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.