Grace builds upon nature

A measuring gauge I utilize when dealing with others dedicated to the religious life is their ability to absorb criticism. Not that I am judging, I just really notice those who are overly sensitive, convinced it is a glaring character defect. The religious life is serious business, yet I find malleability, flexibility is essential when socializing within and without the Church. We don’t have to be so serious with everyone. I recall reading St Francis of Assisi placed himself under obedience to any and all who approached him. It was bothersome to the other friars that he was constantly running off tending to the smallest errands for complete strangers. I imagine a conversation between the early friars. “Where is brother Francis?” “He went off to get a walking stick for the old man whose knee is troubling him, then after this the baker asked him to fetch some milk, then Renata had him hang curtains in her home, and after this he has promised to help Gabriella find shoes for her three children, and the priest is still waiting for him to assist in moving some furniture”. I have a friend I value immensely as an integrity based, scrupulously moral, well read, intelligent Catholic, however his inability to cope with the slightest opposition stuns me. He is too easily insulted. Often, a casual comment from a stranger can enrage him. I am reminded of a friary story. A sister began receiving nightly visits from the Virgin Mary. Several things about the visions, including spoken words, disturbed her. Seeking the advice of a proper Church authority, she was told to spit on the vision. The superior immediately suspected Satan was behind the supernatural acts. The witnessing sister was startled by the advice, asking what if it truly is the Holy Mother. The superior responded that if it was truly Our Holy Mother she would simply wipe away the spittle and smile. If it was Satan, unable to tolerate the slightest offense, the vision would expose its evil nature. The sister spit on the image and the image immediately convulsed into violent rages, cursing and declaring vengeance. The obvious example of the ultimate holy tolerance is Our Savior. All powerful, able to call down legions of angels, he accepted the scourging at the pillar, the carrying of His cross, and then ultimately His crucifixion. Our Lord and Savior forgave those who saw fit to cruelly punish and put him to death. He did not take it personal. Those not aligned with the will of God live under the influence of an unsteady hyper-sensitivity. They are effortlessly and constantly knocked off balance. Acceptance and tolerance of personal insults, criticisms, and injustices are excellent opportunities for developing humility and spiritual fortitude. Keeping clearly in mind, that proper acceptance includes forgetting, not internal festering.


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