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Sunday, November 26, 2023

Advent Time Out: Entering the Dark Silence and Searching for the Light

Dear Readers,

How grateful I am for all of you, both those who encourage Susan and me and those who think we are on the road to hell and deserve eternal punishment. 

"All things work together for good to those who love the Lord and serve according to His purpose." (Romans 8:28)

Perhaps our detractors do us more good than those who agree with us. Fr. John Hardon, SJ (+2000) often said that two things are necessary for salvation: faith and humility. No one gets into heaven without them and it goes without saying that they are the path to true charity, especially love of enemies and those who hate us.

"I say to you, Love your enemies: do good to them that hate you: and pray for them that persecute and calumniate you." Matt 5:44

Fr. Hardon further said that the only way to become humble is to experience humiliation. Most of us get plenty of opportunity for that, but usually run away from it. Believe me, I speak from experience to my shame.

What led to my decision to go silent, you may wonder. 

About ten days ago I attended a woman's day of reflection with a priest I consider wise and holy. One of the points he made in a conference was that people spend too much time on social media and the internet. I decided to meet with him to discuss my blog. The first thing he said was, "Stop it." His reaction was strong and surprised me. It took me somewhat aback. We first met because he read something on my blog and wanted to meet me. He said on that occasion, "You have a lot of courage." I don't see myself that way, but I appreciated his comment. He likes my blog and said he had benefited from it. 

Father seemed a bit surprised by his own reaction. "I'm not usually this strong." He apologized for being rude, which he wasn't. But he dared me to stop blogging for a month. "The world won't end if you don't blog," he said. That made me laugh a little. The blog is, in fact, nothing but dust and ashes. But it is also an outlet and respite from life's challenges and something I consider an apostolate since I don't have the energy for the pro-life activism of my younger self. Writing is something that I considered the apostolate of my old age.

Friedrich Brockmann, Portia and Nerissa
(1849) Folger Shakespeare Library
Should I accept Father's dare? My immediate reaction in the meeting was yes. And then, on the way home from the retreat, I remembered Nerissa's advice to Portia in The Merchant of Venice when Portia complained about her father's imposition of the casket trial in order to identify her future spouse.  Those who sought her hand had to choose between caskets of gold, silver, and lead promising not to reveal the contents and to remain continent if they failed to choose rightly. [I could easily do a blog post on that.]

Portia laments, "I may neither choose whom I would nor refuse whom I dislike. So is the will of a living daughter curbed by the will of a dead father. Is it not hard, Nerissa, that I cannot choose one, nor refuse none?" 

Nerissa offers a wise response. "Your father was ever virtuous, and holy men at their death have good inspirations. Therefore the lottery that he hath devised...will no doubt, never be chosen by any rightly but one who shall rightly love."

Since I consider Father a "virtuous" and "holy" man, one who died to self to become a priest, I cannot refuse his "dare." So this will be my last post until after Christmas. Whether I begin blogging again depends on the next month which I intend to use to discern God's will for me and whether it's time for silence. I will also be off Facebook. I will miss both, but that makes these decisions a blessed penance and mortification during a season of penance.

Please pray for me as I will for all of you. Some of you are dear friends. Others are fellow travelers on the journey, although some have taken off on roads leading to dead ends. May all of us find the narrow path that leads to eternal life.

I am not imposing silence on my blog partner, Susan, although she has travel plans and is  unlikely to be blogging much. But you will not be able to comment on her posts because I'll be shutting down comments. I will continue moderating comments for the next few days, but after that will be "hiding" them. Unfortunately blogger doesn't offer an option to stop comments temporarily on future posts while leaving current comments online. So, when I choose the "hide" option, all comments will be invisible, but not deleted. In a way, that offers you the opportunity to enter into silence as well. I will be praying that the "silence" being imposed will be for your blessing as well as Susan's and mine. 

"The people in darkness have seen a great light." May the "darkness" of silence bring us all to a greater awareness of the light of Christ as we remember His coming to pitch His tent among us. O Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make our hearts like unto thine.

A blessed Advent to all. May it lead to the most joyful Christmas any of us has ever experienced. 

With a grateful heart,

Mary Ann


  1. Mary Ann, you do have courage. You are trusting and have a generous heart. You love Jesus and the church. You have tried to serve Him, what could be more laudable or worthwhile. I am truly sorry that people, including fellow Catholics, can be so angry about life in general they say rude things to you and Susan. I can't imagine what kind of Catholic believes that is acceptable. People are clearly in disarray because we are all under significant pressure. Americans for example, feel we have lost our foundation, our church, and our nation, all at the same time. But there is no excuse for vitriol when we are merely talking about differences of opinions arrived at in good faith. God bless you and yours, and stepping back is a healthy thing at times. I am inspired and may do it myself. I think we've all kind of reached a bit of a dead end. Maybe we're just tired and need a rest. Happy Advent and Merry Christmas to you! May 2024 be a great turning point and year for us all!

  2. I've been considering avoiding news media/blogs during Advent including Catholic ones.
    I'm thinking it will help me focus more on Advent and anticipate a joyful Christmas.

    1. Same here, anon. It will do me good, I’m sure. God bless you time away, Susan!

  3. Mary Ann, you do so much good with this blog. People are flooded with so much misinformation, we need every source of truth we can get. I respect your decision, of course. But I do hope it is only for a month. Blessed Advent!

  4. Like I told Mary Ann, unless I'm in mortal sin and seeking advice and spiritual direction from a priest (been there, done that), no priest had better order me, tell me, direct me or dare me to do anything in my private life.

  5. Susan, we obviously disagree and I think your comment is disrespectful toward our priests. Nobody can make anyone do anything. I'm following the advice of a holy priest with a willing heart.

  6. I know I spend too much time on the internet which could be better spent praying and doing good works. I don't have a blog of my own but do comment on your blog almost exclusively when I disagree with you - though most times I do agree with you and/or appreciate your insights and information. I have more respect for you since you allow comments that disagree with you. I don't know how much time you are spending on the blog and if you will find that there are other more important/valuable ways for you to spend your time. I think it's something you should try like you say just so that you know it's not for your own ego/some type of bad habit/escape, but I'm also torn because the hierarchy of the Catholic Church has lied and is corrupt and it's only through bloggers like you that information is being disseminated so that people feel they aren't on their own and know the extent of the problem. You also spread pro-life information and give a witness of living a Catholic life day to day. I sometimes don't agree with your political views and also don't belong to the Catholic circle (Vigano-Strickland-Schneider-Christendom/Thomas Aquinas College) you seem to and not sure when news/propaganda line is crossed, but that's why it's nice you give your opinion and provide a forum for discussion/comments because the main sources often don't at all or not to the extent you do.

  7. Les Femmes is my first stop for my daily morning internet reading. As a former RC it is my window into a Catholicism that has all but disappeared. It would be a sad shame for Les Femmes to go silent (and disappear). Silence is compliance, agreement.

    Today our society needs MORE voices speaking out for family, life, & God. Sadly, the RC church can no longer be counted on to support these. Here in Ohio the RC church's efforts to oppose Issue1 were significantly lacking (WIMPY) and as a result "reproductive decisions" is now enshrined in the OH constitution. And the RC church in OH continues on as if everything is normal.

    Bishop Strickland has been silenced (among others); legalized abortion is speading across rhe US like wildfire; the Latin Mass is being disappeared; the Synod for the Sinoddity is out to transform the church. President Trump is being railroaded towards jail. J6 political prisoners. Online censorship, etc ETC.

    Especially now, NOW IS NOT THE TIME FOR SILENCE.

    1. Red, Please return to the one true fold quickly,as if all depended on it.

  8. Mary Ann, I hope you have a blessed Advent! I have never commented here before, but I do read your blog and find your posts very helpful and uplifting, especially your Sunday reflections. Your decision not to blog for a month will be a penance for all of us! I pray that you do continue blogging after Christmas. As a fellow Catholic mom and grandmother, I really look forward to reading your thoughts and as Mark Docherty said, "We need every source of truth we can get." Thank you for sharing your life and heart with us and please come back! :)

  9. I am certainly upset with your decision, but it is selfish I suppose. I do find your posts to be uplifting, sometimes newsy, but certainly good for one’s Catholic soul. I hope that you realize that you can change your mind and come back earlier to help feed our very lonely selves. I live in Ontario, Canada and believe me, it gets lonely 😔. God bless you. From a Grandmother of many, a widow, and fighting prolifer, plus a lonely old TLM Catholic.

  10. Hi Mary Ann. If you’re still allowing comments, I’d like to add that this site is one of the very few I look at. You and Susan choose your topics well and I admire how you back up your points with researched facts. There’s a reason why Voris and Niles never went after you and that’s because you dotted your i’s and crossed your t’s. Most Catholic websites today run by laypeople are a waste of time. They tend to be run by narcissists who want celebrity status and donations from the faithful and I have no respect or patience for those kind of people. You and Susan aren’t like that. You both love Holy Mother Church and on that note, I hope you’ll keep it going after this time out. A Blessed Advent and Christmas to you and everyone reading this. Andrew

  11. Dear Mary Ann, I wish a joyful advent season. I will miss your writing. I learn from your thoughtful prose and appreciate it. I hope to see your writing in Christmastide.

  12. Your explanation of why you are stopping is a good one. You're doing it for reasons that make sense to you. I do, politely, disagree! :) You're a daily read for me and I'm sure many others. I sincerely hope the new year finds you back here, tapping away words of wisdom. May God bless you abundantly, whatever you decide to do.

  13. Wonder if your director was affiliated w/opus dei, diocesan or SSPX. In searching Cardinal Burke, top hit came up for a website:

    This is the official site of His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke.
    © 2023 All Rights Reserved

    So then I decided to search "Bishop Strickland" - and he also has a website:
    © 2023 Bishop Strickland. All Rights Reserved.

  14. I don't understand your point. Can you explain please?

  15. Explanation: Don't really have one. Find it a little curious as you do that priest wanted to meet you because of your blog but now having a complete change of heart, directing you to "stop it." It's one thing to say people spend too much time on the internet including/especially those who use/think they are using the internet as a tool for God and encourage a pause for reflection etc. vs. to just say stop your blog (but not necessarily being on the internet?). Think priest is not being entirely candid with you unless what you had written was something personal/spiritual so priest contacted you thinking eventually you'd outgrow the blog/internet as you became more spiritually advanced. Also not sure when you met this priest--could be you became SSPX promoter after meeting him and doesn't like you promoting SSPX (though notice you have stopped that lately). To me the traditional view (SSPX) would be that lay people would not blog and if so only under the direction of a spiritual advisor. Believe Opus Dei would more encourage lay blogging, but would want it to be under the direction of a spiritual advisor. Diocesan varies widely but either would not want lay people blogging at all or would say it's nobodies business but yours. (I group priests who belong to orders w/Diocesan.) What's most dangerous about the internet is the quickness. You can learn and pass on in two minutes. People become addicted to the thrill and also to expressing their own opinion/retweeting/blogging etc. as if that is an effective act and are not really reflecting so that they are being dissipated into wasting their time and can be manipulated for instance by Strickland, then Burke, bang bang bang into believing something that isn't true and/or they wouldn't believe unless people they trust are setting them up (and then suddenly they are in jail as an insurrectionist). I think some of your posts have been done more out of anger/immediate reaction. Bible says you will be held accountable for every idle word and teachers to a higher accounting, so I can't say it's not good advice. I just wonder what changed the priest's mind. Maybe the pope's cracking down.

  16. Some of your assumptions are incorrect, but I'm not going to address this further. It's simply a time of discernment for me. Thank you for commenting and I'd appreciate your prayers.