February 12, 2011

Theses on Charity

Isaac of Stella caught me in the Office of Readings today: Charity is the reason why anything should be done or left undone.

Charity is the only good reason to do anything, but it also sometimes demands that we not do something we might think we want to do. There are a lot of fine distinctions one has to make in this area to live spiritually in common life and ministry. For example:

  • We are called to support one another, but not to enable maladaptive behaviors, debilitating addictions, and sins.
  • We must bear with the burdens of others, and be willing to wash feet, but we should not take responsibility for the feelings of others.
  • We must seek ways to invite both individuals and institutions to benefit from our strengths, and invite them into the success that derives from them, but--again--we should be careful not to take interior or exterior responsibility for situations that the Holy Spirit has not, or not yet, seen fit to put in our care.
  • Sometimes the greatest charity--and often the most painful--is not giving someone what he thinks he wants.
  • We must be good to ourselves, practicing good self-care, but that doesn't mean taking it easy and just 'being nice' to ourselves. On the one hand, we must not be so hard on ourselves that our whole spiritual life becomes a rehearsal of faults and sins, for this is one of the devil's tricks in making us fail to notice God, and on the other we must also be careful not be overly forgiving of ourselves so as to effectively give up struggling with certain selfishnesses and sins. We must practice the sort of self-charity that nourishes our gifts and virtues, and is ruthless in the unwillingness to put up with sin.

1 comment:

Barb, sfo said...

That's just as true in family life! (And sometimes, just as hard to do.)