Monday, March 31, 2014

Reproaches and Tribulation

“And on the one hand indeed, by reproaches and tribulations, were made a gazingstock; and on the other, became companions of them that were used in such sort.”  Hebrews 10:33

This is part 2 of  a two blog posts on insolent speech

There is not a shortage of drink in the cup of bitterness today is their my friend? Perhaps if I was with you or we lived close to one another I could offer you a drink, a comfortable chair and some time to hear your woes, to shake my head at the cruelty of the approaches and insults leveled against you.  What insults? The names leveled against you: fool, pharisee, reactionary, protestant, nutter, crazy, loathsome, pharisaic, prideful etc.  The exaggerations and caricatures used to distort what you say. The suggestions of either subtle or explicit evil in all of your words.  The guilt by association used to discredit you before you even open your mouth. 

We could perhaps include the titles of rad trad, neo con, and the such like, which, are used like a brush to paint your opinions offering a sloppy and quick condemnation without even hearing or reading you.  Please my friend, suffer me not to argue with me that these titles are a just thing, my point is not to argue about the justice of the use of titles, but to point out that titles should not be used to be dismissive to silence and not consider someones words.

Charity seems to be preached from all sides, which is good, but there can seem to be a lack of good examples.  One side condemns an evil action and the the other side condemns the people who condemned the evil for condemning and then the first party condemns them etc.  Or, perhaps in weakness a soul expresses doubt, he is forthwith condemned for faithlessness.  A person, perhaps to casually lets off steam, or pleads for the attention when he has been neglected, instead of being comforted he is mocked and ridiculed and held up to scorn.

And of course as sins of the tongue and hatred is en-kindled on all sides, charity will be constantly invoked with indignation.  It seems that to their guilt, many people are truly blind to the sins of the tongue and judgement.  Lord I am blind, I wish to see!

There has been much discussion about whether we should criticize the Pope, and the Bishops. If every member of the Church is part of the body of Christ, I think it would be better to discuss how we should deal with one another. If we cannot be kind to who we sit next to in the pew or suffer them with patience we will lack the understanding on how to approach those people who are set apart.   How are people to know that we are Christs disciples? It is by the love that we show one another. John 13:35

I hope that I can offer some practical advice for how to deal with these situations when they occur, to help you suffer, or rather, to suffer together in patience.

So let us sit beside our Lord Jesus, mocked with a crown of thorns, abandoned by friends, struck with a reed, jeered at by enemies.  We will ask him in his affliction to comfort us who are so weak, who struggle to rejoice when we bear with contempt and insolence of others and teach us His wisdom.

Lets start with David, the man after Gods own heart. 1 Samuel 13:14

“Semei, the son of Gera, and coming out he cursed as he went on, And he threw stones at David, ...And thus said Semei when he cursed the king: ...And Abisai the son of Sarvia said to the king (David): Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? I will go, and cut off his head. And the king said: What have I to do with you, ye sons of Sarvia? Let him alone and let him curse: for the Lord hath bid him curse David: and who is he that shall dare say, why hath he done so? ...let him alone that he may curse as the Lord hath bidden him. Perhaps the Lord may look upon my affliction, and the Lord may render me good for the cursing of this day.  2 Samuel 16

We see here a living faith.  God is a loving Father that counts every hair on your head, we must not think that when he allows another to injure us with words that he does not know about it. 

“Had it been an evil thing to suffer wrong God would not have enjoined it upon us.”  St John Chrysostom, Homilies from the Fathers for Lent Vol 4

Look at Davids great trust: that God will repay him good for bearing the cursing in patience. God did and Semei that mocked him when David returned had to beg for his life. 

“Hath thy neighbour wronged and grieved thee, and involved thee in a thousand ills.  Bet it so, yet do not prosecute vengeance on thine own part, lest thou be treating thy Lord with contempt! Yield the matter to God, and He will dispose of it, much better than thou canst desire.. Never canst thou so avenge thyself, as He is prepared to avenge thee, if thou givest place to Him alone.”  St John Chrysostom, The Right Use of Lent, Homilies of the Fathers for Lent Vol 4.

We must have faith that God has willed us to suffer the evil, and that he will avenge us and grant us a reward if we bear it with patience. 

So we are insulted, and that terrible fight within us comes upon us like a beast, to keep our patience to win the crown? How shall we subdue it?

“What didst thou wish? To be avenged. Hast thou forgotten that when He was being crucified, He said, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do?"  He who is asleep in thy heart did not wish to be avenged.”  St Augustine, Christ Asleep, Homilies of the Fathers for Lent Vol 4

The remembrance of our Lord being crucified and His love for his enemies shall be our weapon  against our own wrath.  We will awake him, we will call on the name of the Lord, we will repeat those words “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do!”

And yet our hearts are still troubled: We see that God has willed it, and that we can obtain a great crown through patience, we have recalled the patience of Christ and remembered his passion, but the cruelty of the words cut deep!

Wait… Let us consider the cruelty of the remarks.  

"When you hear anyone spoken ill of, make the accusation doubtful if you can do so justly.  If you cannot, excuse the intention of the accused party.  If that cannot be done, express sympathy for him [and] change the subject of the conversation"  St Francis De Sales, Introduction to the Devout Life pg 205

Can we see if perhaps the words were meant to injure, or that the person meant good but failed to deliver? No? Is the person perhaps to be pitied in some way and that in the poor circumstances of the sorrows of there life they just lashed out?  I give you these considerations from the Doctor of Charity to continue in our fight.

Not enough yet?

Despite all of these things you still feel overcome and filled with rage.  

“It is not said merely, forgo wrath, but retain it not in thy mind; think not on it, part with all thy resentment...thou art tormenting thyself and setting up rage as an executioner within thee in every part.”  St John Chrysostom

Our suffering is real, what shall we do?

I say change the conversation with your own heart: go out to dinner, have a beer, go fishing, look at your favorite picture,  hold the evil remarks of others with contempt, look not on the remark, think not on the remark. A weed without water, light or warmth will die, so too will the insolent remarks fade from us if we put them out from our mind.  Wounds heal better when they are not licked.  

One day God willing my friends you and I will obtain to that perfection that suffers. Nay prefers insults and contempt! To suffer all things for Christ sake for: “Blessed are ye when they shall revile you, and persecute you, and speak all that is evil against you, untruly, for my sake: Be glad and rejoice, for your reward is very great in heaven.” Matt 5 11-12

Amen. So may it be.


Anonymous said...

Speaking of insults...


Boniface said...


Eufrosnia said...

I am honestly asking. If one were to follow this post and the one before, I am not sure what is left to do in this world about evils but simply not do anything about them.

If I follow the quote of St. Francis de Sales here, I must simply assume that the intent is missing or try my best to look at evil acts by a person positively? Is St. Francis even addressing this regarding all accusations (i.e. accusation that X committed murder?)

It looks to me that this is what gets us to where we are today: A people who are very offended by any criticism and who hold criticism to be the greatest sin.

Christ was beaten up, spat at and stripped which are things that anyone can agree as excessive. But people today are offended by words criticizing their actions (they take it as an insult with their person because they associate their person with the action very strongly like the LGBT). Is that not pride? Can we no longer call something for what it is?

Is it not possible that we are in the situation today because of statements of saints that people understood out of context to be 'judge no one and live your life'?

Ouch said...

"There is not a shortage of drink in the cup of bitterness today is their my friend?"

Work that one over. Stressed lately?

Noah Moerbeek said...

Eufrosnia that is not the way I read the quote of St Francis de Sales.

The quote is in the context of speaking about others, it is not suggesting that we do not resolve offences of injustice (such as murder).

Also, from what I am reading it seems that you have set up for yourself a false dichotomy. That in order for myself to do good, I must be able to judge and criticize others.

We must certainly can and must call sins as sins, but that does not mean that I need to tell everyone about my neighbors sins or condemn them to anyone who will listen. A person can resist pseudo marriages by voting against pseudo marriage laws, refusing to attend pseudo marriages, calling pseudo marriages evil etc.

However, when speaking about my neighbor (when he is not around) who has participated in a pseudo marriage what should I do? It is an evil act, perhaps with an evil intention, should I dwell on his sin? I think we can understand what the Doctor of Charity is driving at here.

Let us never cease to condemn sin.

Anonymous said...

The wisdom of "Turn the other Cheek" comes more and more true with each day.

With regard to the controversies surrounding Pope Francis (and I believe there is merit) I have dumped several blogs from my bookmarks, finding a better use of my time to read edifying things rather than opprobrium. I can't sort out truth from lies regarding Pope Francis, and I can't fix it, whether true or not. So I try to be a better Catholic. And that is enough work to do, believe me!