Wednesday, September 28, 2005

When Catholic Standards "Get In the Way"

I thought I might post something I intended for a certain individual some time ago that strikes me as particularly apt for the aims of this blog. Thomas A Kempis and St. Ignatius have much to say to our generation:

St. Ignatius and Thomas A Kempis: When Catholic Standards "Get in the Way"

Along with all the many other things Christians should perpetually strive toward, it struck me that St. Ignatius of Loyola and Thomas A Kempis have something critically important of which to remind all faithful Catholics at this time and place. In difficult times, confusing times, it may become easier to let certain rules and principles fall to the wayside because we may consider them obstacles to our "greater cause", the fight we have chosen or recognized at a particular time….either within the Church, or outside of Her. Could it be, however, it is precisely at such times we need to rededicate ourselves to these "inconvenient" rules and principles? Such rules and principles serve many crucial purposes, not least of which is our own spiritual protection. Perhaps in such contentious times, part of our test is not to effectively adopt the error that the ends justify the means because of a skewed sense of our own self importance in this cosmic struggle?
May we all obtain and hold fast to a radical balance in Christ Jesus, refusing to live life as a feather in the wind…moving interiorly and exteriorly in reaction to whatever "wind" we perceive to be blowing against us.
Michael Forrest

St. Ignatius of Loyola
"it is necessary to suppose that every good Christian is more ready to put a good interpretation on another's statement than to condemn it as false. If an orthodox construction cannot be put on a proposition, the one who made it should be asked how he understands it. If he is in error, he should be corrected with all kindness. If this does not suffice, all appropriate means should be used to bring him to a correct interpretation, and so defend the proposition from error."
(Rule #22, The Spiritual Exercises)

Thomas A Kempis:
"We would willingly have others perfect, and yet we do not amend our own faults. We would have others strictly corrected; but are not willing to be corrected ourselves. The large liberty that others take displeases us; and yet, we do not want to be denied anything…..
First keep yourself in peace and then you will be able to bring others to peace. The peaceable man does more good than one who is very learned. The passionate man turns even good to evil, and readily believes evil. The good, peaceable man turns all things to good.
He who is in perfect peace suspects no man. But he who is discontented and disturbed is agitated by various suspicions; he neither has rest himself, nor does he permit others to rest. Many times he says that which he should not say, and leaves undone that which it were best for him to do. He considers what others ought to do, and neglects that which his is bound to do himself. Have, therefore, a zeal in the first place over yourself, and then you may justly exercise zeal toward your neighbor.
You know well how to excuse and gloss over your own deeds, but you will not accept the excuses of others. It were more just for you to accuse yourself, and to excuse your brother. If you wish to be borne with, bear also with others. See how far you still are from true charity and humility, which knows not how to feel anger or indignation against anyone but oneself.
It is easy to converse with the good and the meek, for this is naturally pleasing to all. And everyone prefers to live in peace with those who agree with him and love him the best. But to know how to live peacefully with those who are stubborn and perverse, or undisciplined and opposed to us, is a great grace, worthy of much praise, and a sign of virile strength.
There are some who know how to live in peace and also enjoy peace with others. And there are others who do not have peace themselves, nor suffer others to enjoy peace; they are troublesome to others. And there are still others who keep themselves in peace and procure to restore peace to others. Nevertheless all our peace, in this miserable life, must be placed more in humble suffering than in not feeling adversities.
He who knows how to suffer will enjoy much peace, and he is a conqueror of himself, the lord of the world, the friend of Christ, and an heir of Heaven."
(The Imitation of Christ)