Monday, June 19, 2006

Chapter of faults.

Titian's St Jerome.

How the workplace can be a Chapter of Faults. (The monastic setting for fraternal correction, probably fallen into disuse in our days.)

A wonderful nun once consoled me about saying things I either regretted or may have inadvertently offended another by in what I may have said - or written - in their regard. She explained to me why St. Jerome was often shown in art as holding a stone that he used to pound against his breast in a mea culpa for the sins of his tongue. That was Sr. Patrick, now deceased, a holy Dominican from the daughters of Rose Hawthorne. She understood my candor, albeit tactless at times. (It is ineteresting that candor and naivete may oftentimes go hand in hand, hence the stunning realization someone may have been disingenuous in their relationship with me.) I never felt very consoled however, since I knew I never could come close to the sanctity of this saint, let alone his intellect - I mean, he had some thought and education behind what he said. Nevertheless I understood that even the saints sinned and said things they regretted. Oftentimes the mere knowledge of the offense was the occasion of great contrition and penance.

I never ever realized that what I say in a weblog, for that is what a blog is (a log of one's reflections and opinion) could affect people the way it does. I received the most incredibly hostile comment on a another blog I write - it actually read like something from a mental patient. But it brought home to me many lessons. I understood that what I write can indeed offend or anger another. It was such a fine correction for me. Like Simei rebuking David. I have prayed for compunction, for contrition, and this cut me to the heart, Our Lord spoke to me through this simple soul. I am so grateful for this rebuke. One may never dismiss rebukes or attacks, because God permits them for our humility. There is nothing better for humility than humiliations. I am so very grateful for this person who holds me in contempt, and I pray for her. I pray for the people I have held in contempt and had let them know it through my words.

I love St. Jerome beause he suffered from himself. I love Celine, Therese's little sister, who suffered from herself. It is better to know that people dislike you, and hold you in contempt, than to ever be praised for anything. John of the Cross, that gentle father said, "he who praises you deceives you." (Or was he quoting scripture?) It is so true.

We must pray for people with mental disorders and afflicted with depression. We must always be very solicitous and kind towards them. They see thngs in a manner differently from those more "well adjusted", and sometimes - I am conviced - Our Lord uses them to correct our own egotistical pride. "I rejoice to be-littled!" - A Thereseian paraphrase.


  1. Although you didn't specify what it was- which is fine...

    Thank you for the reminder to think first before we speak, or in this case, write.

  2. Don Marco5:21 PM

    In every age of the Church there are moments of trouble, conditions that, while they demand reform, also stir up a lot of talking. True reform comes not from much talking, but from much silence. Holy Father Benedict says that “if you talk a lot you will not escape falling into sin” (RB 6:4). A tongue obedient to the Holy Spirit can do immense good; a tongue that wags this way and that is, as Saint James says, “a restless evil, full of deadly poison” (Jas 3:8). Authentic prophecy begins in silence; true reform begins with holding one's own tongue.
    There comes a moment when even the conversation of the saints and prophets must return to the silence whence it springs. In that silence, redeeming Love carries out the work of making whole all that is fragmented, of healing the weak and wounded members of Christ's Mystical Body.
    Cardinal Newman has a little poem that addresses the tension between zeal and meekness, speaking and silence. I wonder if in paradise he has recited it for Saint Peter Damian.

    CHRIST bade His followers take the sword;
    And yet He chid the deed,
    When Peter seized upon His word,
    And made a foe to bleed.

    The gospel Creed, a sword of strife,
    Meek hands alone may rear;
    And ever Zeal begins its life
    In silent thought and fear.

    Ye, who would weed the Vineyard's soil,
    Treasure the lesson given;
    Lest in the judgment-books ye toil
    For Satan, not for heaven.

    Off Sardinia.
    June 20, 1833.


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