Weekend Reflections for 9/8/17
Perhaps one of the hardest things we have to do in this life is "fraternal correction." Scripture speaks of its importance. Jesus exhorts us to it in this Sunday's Gospel. Certainly we would prefer to follow the world's mantras: "Don't judge the actions of another" and "Live and let live", for there is no possible conflict that way... But Jesus instructs us otherwise, "Go and tell [your brother] his fault." (Mt 18:15)
St. Ignatius, at the beginning of his Spiritual Exercises, adds some important qualifiers to balanced fraternal correction. In what he calls the Presupposition, he writes,
"...Let it be presupposed that every good Christian is to be more ready to save his neighbor's proposition than to condemn it. If he cannot save it, let him inquire how he means it; and if he means it badly, let him correct him with charity. If that is not enough, let him seek all the suitable means to bring him to mean it well, and save himself."
Correction does need to happen, for the love we have toward others. But we must avoid a simple condemnation of the words or opinions of others. Instead we should search carefully for the inner truth of their statement or expression, and hold on to that truth, and help them discard the rest. If we can't find some truth to hold on to, we are to ask what they intend by it. Give them an explanatory chance! And if they are still holding on to something in error, we are to correct them, but always and only in charity. This will lead them gently towards the truth that we ourselves are trying to follow.
Why all these qualifiers? Perhaps St. Ignatius realized, as Our Lord did long before him, that we tend to want to put people on the defensive when we don't agree with them, to "win a battle". This is not living charity on our part. Truth, however, is never something we contain or control or can use as a club to "win a battle", but rather something we reverence, something beyond us, that we point to. Indeed truth is a person, the Second Person of the Trinity.
May we always point beyond ourselves to the Truth. And may these be the distinguishing marks of our fraternal correction: charity and humility.
Fr. Anthony Wieck, S.J.
PLEASE PRAY FOR THOSE ON RETREAT THIS WEEK AS WELL AS OUR DECEASED RETREATANTS.
PLEASE PRAY FOR PEACE IN OUR COMMUNITY
Men: 9/14, 9/18, 9/21, 9/25, 9/28