Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Speaking the Truth--in Love

As small children, we were taught to distinguish right from wrong and that to tell a lie was on the wrong list.  Even when it was a difficult question, like “Who broke the lamp?” we knew that we were to tell the truth.  We may have been punished (I suspect most of us were, if we in fact did break the lamp), but the punishment was always worse if we lied or tried to cover up or “play dumb.”

We thought telling the truth was hard then; it seems it is getting much more difficult now.
Living an authentically Catholic life is becoming more counter-cultural with each passing day.  If any of you are on social media, you can find myriad examples of this in posts and discussions after the recent Supreme Court decision regarding the redefinition of marriage.  To say anything in defense of Catholic teaching on this matter is to be labeled “judgmental,” “bigoted,” etc.
How timely, then, was the Gospel for the 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time, from Mark, chapter 6. Basically, Jesus returned to his “native place” and began to teach, and the response was: “‘Where did this man get all this?  Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary…?’…And they took offense at him.”
How many of us have run into this same situation, in conversations within our own families, with co-workers, neighbors, or even other fellow parishioners?  Then, when the labels of “judgmental” start flying, do we question ourselves, “Am I being judgmental?”  Perhaps we even wonder whether it’s worth the aggravation.
But, as Catholics, and particularly as members of the Pauline Family who are committed to spreading the Gospel through social communications, we are called to persevere.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church speaks to our duty to speak the truth (CCF2471-2472):
Before Pilate, Christ proclaims that he ‘has come into the world, to bear witness to the truth.’  The Christian is not to ‘be ashamed then of testifying to our Lord.’ In situations that require witness to the faith, the Christian must profess it without equivocation, after the example of St. Paul before his judges.  We must keep a ‘clear conscience toward God and toward men.

The duty of Christians: to take part in the life of the Church impels them to act as witnesses of the Gospel and of the obligations that flow from it.  This witness is a transmission of the faith in words and deeds.  Witness is an act of justice that establishes the truth or makes it known.
Saint Augustine is quoted as saying: “The truth is like a lion.  You don't have to defend it.  Let it loose.  It will defend itself.” 

But what about being called “judgmental?” The Catechism also speaks to this (CCF 2478): 
To avoid rash judgment, everyone should be careful to interpret insofar as possible his neighbor’s thoughts, words, and deeds in a favorable way: 

Every good Christian ought to be more ready to give a favorable interpretation to another’s statement than to condemn it.  But if he cannot do so, let him ask how the other understands it.  And if the latter understands it badly, let the former correct him with love.  If that does not suffice, let the Christian try all suitable ways to bring the other to a correct interpretation so that he may be saved.
We must be prudent in when and how we do this.  The Catechism defines prudence as “the virtue which disposes a person to discern the good and choose the correct means to accomplish it.  One of the cardinal moral virtues that disposes the Christian to live according to the law of Christ, prudence provides the proximate guidance for the judgment of conscience.”

A close relationship with the Holy Spirit, through prayer, can help you discern when and whether you are called to speak.  Invoke him; he will give you the words to say. 

As Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta said, God has not called us to be successful, he has called us to be faithful.  So we must continue to speak the truth, in love, without blame or judgment, and be open to the outcome. 
Bernadette Boguski has been a Pauline Cooperator for over 20 years. She is a member of St. Columbkille Parish in Parma, OH, where she serves as a Eucharistic Minister, cantor, and member of the music ministry. Bernadette holds a degree in journalism from Bowling Green State University and currently serves as the development director for Womankind, a nonprofit agency providing free prenatal care and support services for pregnant women in need.

1 comment:

Christine Dufresne said...

Well stated, thank you for your post. God bless always.