In the never-ending furious hurricane that is Twitter, yesterday saw a particular system develop around Dr. Taylor Marshall's comments on how distributism is really a form of socialism. People's reactions to this particular podcast were intense, running the gambit from staunch defense of Dr. Marshall to open condemnation of his views, not only saying he was wrong but that he was becoming increasingly pompous and arrogant in his daily podcasts. I was also told he is only defending the Church to make money off of Her - as a convert, no less.
I do not know Dr. Marshall personally. I only know he exists through Twitter. I have also never listened to any of his podcasts with any great attention. So I cannot either verify or deny the claims many are making with any sense of authority.
However, the reactions surrounding yesterday's podcast reminded me of a truism oft-touted by the great spiritual writers, least of all Dom Chautard: good and holy intentions regarding service to the Church can - and often do - become corrupted by self-love.
Most of us have seen this in others in some fashion. I have seen it, and have reasoned they do not know what they are doing. But perhaps less noticeable is how our own good and holy intentions become corrupted and instead become self-serving.
Don't get me wrong. We are here primarily to secure our own salvation, and we must always keep that in mind. That takes many avenues. But oftentimes, the spiritual writers tell us, the devil will find the smallest chink in our good and holy intentions, come in, and use them to draw us away from God instead of to Him.
The Carmelite Directory of the Spiritual Life expresses this reality well in its commentary on self-love, with this particular segment found on page 201:
"Since every evil," says Father Maurus of the Child Jesus, "present only accidentally in other things, is essentially in human hearts corrupted by self-love, even their best deeds turn out to be useless, unless they strive to purify themselves from this cursed poison which insinuates itself into their holiest actions and which by itself displeases the eyes of the Divine Majesty" (Intr. in div. sap. III, C. 13). [emphasis mine]It is Lent. Perhaps take the remaining weeks to consider how your actions in support of the Church may actually be forms of self-love, be it overt or subvert. This can be anything, least of all maintaining a podcast or a blog. Where have we lost sight of our good and holy intentions - whatever they may be - and have instead used the Church to serve us instead of God? This is something the Church has always cautioned against; it is not something unique to our age. The world has long promoted this debilitating self-love.
If my life is any indication, it is much more common than we suspect, and we will persistently struggle against it. No one is immune. Not me. Not you. Not Dr. Marshall. Not the neighbor down the street.
May God grant us the fortitude to combat the nasty streak of self-love all of us have, and offer our whole selves to God, as Our Lord did on that black, black day.