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Be careful my Catholic friends about what you say. The world is watching you, your friends are looking to you, your non-Catholic friends are listening to you.

I always think of the many people who are on their way back to the Catholic Church, what they’re thinking when they’re watching me talk, reading what I write, seeing how I react, judging how I judge. I remember when I converted to the Catholic Church, it was glorious for me. And then the next Easter came and I met people in RCIA and online who were on the journey that I was just months before them. I realized these people, whether I liked it or not, were looking to me as an example. In fact, they were looking to all Catholics as an example.

It’s not just those converting to the Catholic Church. Indeed the whole world is in the process of conversion; it’s our job to act in unison with the Holy Spirit to help get them there. Christ has already done the work, we just need to harvest the souls. But there are souls who already belong to the Catholic Church. People who don’t read New Advent every day, carry a current Magnificat, or subscribe to blogs. Instead, these Catholic get their daily bread from other Catholics like you and me. We literally are their daily source of Catholic nutrition. We better realize this, and reevaluate what we’re offering and feeding these people.

This rings true today, with the Synod. Catholic slamming Catholics. Cardinals insulting the Pope and each other. What’s a convert to do when they see that the Church they’re falling in love with appears to be set against itself. What’s a nomonal Catholic to do when they see the same? We need to be extra careful in what we say on the internet. It is so easy to make a simple remark about this or that, the Synod, a Cardinal, or the Pope, and overlook the fact that we are influencing others. Careful that we are not discrediting and bringing undue scandal to the Church we belong to.

It’s like the parents who are fighting at 10 o’clock at night, every night, suddenly hear the hallway floors creak and settle, looking over to see their toddler or young child baffled by the sight of mommy and daddy bitterly angry with each other. It can change a kid. It can push them away many years later when they’re really tested, when they think of that and several other moments, slowly eroding their confidence in the very people they were learning to trust. It can change a convert, too. It can push them away years later when they’re really tested, slowly eroding their confidence in the very foundation they were learning to trust. Here’s the key: if you’re going to disagree, disagree with charity and character.

The fact is, we really must watch what we’re saying right now. The world is watching. Our friends are watching. The non-Catholic friends who have been keeping tabs on us from months or years are looking intently to see how we react to what’s going on. The world is looking to Christians for answers. They want what we have; they just don’t trust it yet. We need to show them that we believe in what we say we believe in. Otherwise, it’s cheap talk.

Are we going to point fingers, condemn others, lash out in literary tirades, crusade against groups we don’t identify with? Or are we going to remember and act like we belong to a church that is unified, a church that is sanctified, a body that is universal, and a bride who is succeeded and never broken, interrupted, and always cogent, consistent and continuous?

We belong to the longest enduring, most beautiful, charitable, noble, and effective force the planet has ever known. Let’s remember that in how we think, speak and act.