Just before Lent began, someone suggested to me that I should give up blogging for Lent. Which I have done. (I justify posting now on the view that Lent ends on Maundy Thursday evening, a view that I encountered from a quite impeccable monastic source.)
It is interesting to reflect on the experience of not blogging, and herewith some of the thoughts that have occurred to me as the end of my absence from the aether has approached.
1. In a very real way, I have not missed writing for the blog. There have been a few points where something has occurred, and I have thought, "Oh, I might have posted to say this or that". But I have not really missed the additional step of formulating the thoughts coherently, sitting at the keyboard and posting. It is not always necessary to publish an opinion ....
2. I have also found that it is quite possible to live an informed ecclesial existence without reading Catholic blogs. Which thought led me to wonder - somewhere around Laetare Sunday - just how much of what I do find myself reading on blogs can rightly be described as ecclesial gossip. And whether it is some of the more widely-read blogs that purvey the majority of this gossip. Pope Francis is, I think, quite clear about what he considers to be the evil of gossip; and perhaps, in reading blogs, it is easy to become complicit in that evil.
3. It is not at all clear that, by not spending time blogging, I have necessarily spent the time usefully on other things. I cannot say that I have noticed that I do my marking, for example, any more quickly than before.
4. I did receive an appreciative comment just before leaving the aether, and before I had worked out the right way to acknowledge that comment. I must have appeared somewhat ungrateful, not just for not acknowledging the comment, but for then disappearing altogether without explanation. So my apologies to the person concerned. I am back now.
5. All this having been said, there is a small community of Catholic blogs that I characterise by the term "more thoughtful". Of their nature, they are not going to attract huge numbers of readers - they aren't controversial enough for that - but they probably do more to "build communion" than do other blogs. It is to that community that I feel I am now returning.