There seems to be a divide in the Catholic blogosphere on the issue of weakness and whether it is holy to show weakness. For example, if I were to have a drinking problem, would it be holy of me to blog that I have a drinking problem as if it were “merely part of the human condition” rather than to be repentant of it and seek to change it? OR would it be holy of me to blog that I have a problem cleaning because of laziness, as if it were “merely part of the human condition” rather than to be repentant of it and seek to change it? I think the answer is rather clear from what the catechism has to say about weakness, but one has to read between the lines. I conclude that we should give glory to God in helping us rise above our weaknesses rather than glory in our weaknesses in the hope of “relating” to fellow humans.
Note the paragraph numbers preceding each excerpt. They are not in order so as to facilitate understanding of this particular topic. Note also that there are two kinds of weakness. One is the weakness of man and the other is the “weakness” manifest in Christ as a newborn child. These are two different contexts as Christ is not weak in the flesh as man is weak in the flesh. Christ’s weakness is physical, not spiritual, whereas our weakness is both spiritual and physical. Christ made himself subject to mortality but He rose from the dead because He is a conqueror of death. In like manner, through Him and with the help of the Spirit, we can conquer our own weaknesses.
101 In order to reveal himself to men, in the condescension of his goodness God speaks to them in human words: “Indeed the words of God, expressed in the words of men, are in every way like human language, just as the Word of the eternal Father, when he took on himself the flesh of human weakness, became like men.”
563 No one, whether shepherd or wise man, can approach God here below except by kneeling before the manger at Bethlehem and adoring him hidden in the weakness of a new-born child.
990 The term “flesh” refers to man in his state of weakness and mortality. The “resurrection of the flesh” (the literal formulation of the Apostles’ Creed) means not only that the immortal soul will live on after death, but that even our “mortal body” will come to life again.
853 On her pilgrimage, the Church has also experienced the “discrepancy existing between the message she proclaims and the human weakness of those to whom the Gospel has been entrusted.” Only by taking the “way of penance and renewal,” the “narrow way of the cross,” can the People of God extend Christ’s reign. For “just as Christ carried out the work of redemption in poverty and oppression, so the Church is called to follow the same path if she is to communicate the fruits of salvation to men.”
387 Only the light of divine Revelation clarifies the reality of sin and particularly of the sin committed at mankind’s origins. Without the knowledge Revelation gives of God we cannot recognize sin clearly and are tempted to explain it as merely a developmental flaw, a psychological weakness, a mistake, or the necessary consequence of an inadequate social structure, etc. Only in the knowledge of God’s plan for man can we grasp that sin is an abuse of the freedom that God gives to created persons so that they are capable of loving him and loving one another.
306 God is the sovereign master of his plan. But to carry it out he also makes use of his creatures’ co-operation. This use is not a sign of weakness, but rather a token of almighty God’s greatness and goodness. For God grants his creatures not only their existence, but also the dignity of acting on their own, of being causes and principles for each other, and thus of co-operating in the accomplishment of his plan.
741 “The Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes with sighs too deep for words.” The Holy Spirit, the artisan of God’s works, is the master of prayer.
2285 Scandal takes on a particular gravity by reason of the authority of those who cause it or the weakness of those who are scandalized. It prompted our Lord to utter this curse: “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened round his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” Scandal is grave when given by those who by nature or office are obliged to teach and educate others. Jesus reproaches the scribes and Pharisees on this account: he likens them to wolves in sheep’s clothing.
1784 The education of the conscience is a lifelong task. From the earliest years, it awakens the child to the knowledge and practice of the interior law recognized by conscience. Prudent education teaches virtue; it prevents or cures fear, selfishness and pride, resentment arising from guilt, and feelings of complacency, born of human weakness and faults. The education of the conscience guarantees freedom and engenders peace of heart.
1053 “We believe that the multitude of those gathered around Jesus and Mary in Paradise forms the Church of heaven, where in eternal blessedness they see God as he is and where they are also, to various degrees, associated with the holy angels in the divine governance exercised by Christ in glory, by interceding for us and helping our weakness by their fraternal concern” (Paul VI, CPG § 29).
I added the one about education because it is applicable to blogging. We should teach virtue, not weakness. So says the catechism.