Life is a journey; the choices you make now will determine your eternal destination.

Monday, October 25, 2010

My Journey Continued

One of the things I struggle with is Jesus' commandment to "love one another as I have loved you"- now, this sounds like a simple concept, but for me, it is a big stumbling block. I tend to be quick to criticize, and it's something I have been working on for many years to overcome. I'm not as bad as I used to be, but still, I wish I could bite my tongue and take back words that make me end up in the confessional yet again. I found, in my book The Imitation of Mary (Alexander de Rouville) a chapter called Help Your Neighbor Lovingly in which Mary has this to say:

I know your neighbor is often a burden to you because of his moods and silly ideas and strange behavior. But if you are obedient to grace it will teach you to overcome your repugnance and win great merit.
The occasions for practicing heroic virtue did not come every day even to the saints; yet because they patiently put up with the faults of their neighbors, each day added a new luster to their crown.
A Christians life is a life of sacrifices; and a man's neighbor, with his faults, is constantly giving occasion for multiplying such sacrifices.
All man sin many times. They ought therefore make of us the means they have of expiating their sins. One of the most effective of these means is to put up with one's neighbor in a spirit of penance.
In addition, my child, every man has his faults. The most perfect man is simply the one who has fewer defects than anyone else.
You will find defects in your brothers, and they in you. Be not one of those who think they have no defects and by that very fact have the greatest defect of all.
Your brothers put up with you as you are; put up with them as they are.
In bearing with your neighbor, show the patience he needs in bearing with you and with the defects he cannot help but notice in you.
You have long been wearing yourself out trying to improve yourself but your efforts until now have seen little success. How then can you claim to correct those of others as you wish?
All your complaints at the annoyances you must put up with from certain people who displease you are not helpful and certainly will not bring about their correction.
In dealing with such annoyances the only course of action for you to take is to ask Jesus to help you in drawing profit from them, in testing yourself, and in gaining more solid virtues.

I hadn't thought of the possibility of gaining in virtue and grace by being tested by the behavior of others that I find annoying. I have so much to learn, and I am thankful for all the spiritual advice I get in my reading and through other sources, especially I'm thankful for the grace I receive by attending daily Mass.


Michele said...

shirley, you're not the only one who is quick to criticize. perhaps its a family trait? i don't know.
i have to bite my tongue too alot of the time when people annoy me.
its hard to do. especially with my temperament. i tend to avoid people who annoy me because of my ability to bite back. for me, biting back is a defense mechanism. when someone says something unkind to me, i get defensive and say things like, what made you the king? or, who the heck do you think you are? look in the mirror! things like that. its hard to turn the other cheek. mom told me many times to do it, but i never had her patience. i wish i did, but i never had it. i have dad's temperament. i have to often say the Act of Contrition and get myself to confession when iam critical of others. i don't like it when iam critical. it tends to make me feel badly. so i often repeat the Act of Contrition. i got in the habit of saying just before i go to sleep, and often thru out the day. it keeps me humble. if i start to feel crabby, i say it and ask for forgiveness.
iam trying to be a good Christian. sometimes, its not so easy. but iam trying. :)

kam said...

Living and working with our brothers and sisters in this world can be very complicated in the least. Like you, for many years I have struggled, and I'm sure will struggle with the annoyances of others, forgetting about the 'log in my own eye'. That was a beautiful reflection by our B.V.M., and it is very similar to words from 'The Admirable Life of Mother Marianna', in which she tells another sister concerning a defiant sister "that since it is she who is forming our souls for Heaven we should love her dearly. For if the beautiful statues had the use of reason, they would cherish the instruments that carved and polished them. We, then, who have the use of reason, should do what the statues cannot do." Thanks for your excellent post. k

Gina said...

It's the hardest thing for human beings stained with sin to do. Christ said, "no great love is there than to lay down your life for a friend." Hard to be this selfless, even for the most devout among us. Christ Himself even suffered the agony of having to lay his life down, and asked for the cup to pass from Him in the Garden of Gethsemane. It almost brings me to tears, as I know that I am too weak to be able to do what He did. How great is our Lord Jesus, how worthy of our adoration.