Charity wearies not with waiting…

Only minutes after seeing this opinion piece, I stumbled upon the following quotation. In light of an earlier reflection I wrote about Pius X and Francis, the rhetorical contrast of those “plebeian popes” afforded me yet another chuckle.

13. But in order that the desired fruit may be derived from this apostolate and this zeal for teaching, and that Christ may be formed in all, be it remembered, Venerable Brethren, that no means is more efficacious than charity. “For the Lord is not in the earthquake” (III Kings xix., II) – it is vain to hope to attract souls to God by a bitter zeal. On the contrary, harm is done more often than good by taunting men harshly with their faults, and reproving their vices with asperity. True the Apostle exhorted Timothy: “Accuse, beseech, rebuke,” but he took care to add: “with all patience” (II. Tim.iv., 2).

Jesus has certainly left us examples of this. “Come to me,” we find Him saying, “come to me all ye that labor and are burdened and I will refresh you” (Matth. xi., 28). And by those that labor and are burdened he meant only those who are slaves of sin and error. What gentleness was that shown by the Divine Master! What tenderness, what compassion towards all kinds of misery! Isaias has marvelously described His heart in the words: “I will set my spirit upon him; he shall not contend, nor cry out; the bruised reed he will not break, he will not extinguish the smoking flax” (Is. xlii., I, s.).

This charity, “patient and kind” (I. Cor. xiii., 4.), will extend itself also to those who are hostile to us and persecute us. “We are reviled,” thus did St. Paul protest, “and we bless; we are persecuted and we suffer it; we are blasphemed and we entreat” (I. Cor., iv., 12, s.). They perhaps seem to be worse than they really are. Their associations with others, prejudice, the counsel, advice and example of others, and finally an ill advised shame have dragged them to the side of the impious; but their wills are not so depraved as they themselves would seek to make people believe. Who will prevent us from hoping that the flame of Christian charity may dispel the darkness from their minds and bring to them light and the peace of God? It may be that the fruit of our labors may be slow in coming, but charity wearies not with waiting, knowing that God prepares His rewards not for the results of toil but for the good will shown in it.

— Pius X, E supremi (04/10/1903)

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About The Codgitator (a cadgertator)

Catholic convert. Quasi-Zorbatic. Freelance interpreter, translator, and web marketer. Former ESL teacher in Taiwan (2003-2012) and former public high school teacher (2012-2014). Married father of three. Multilingual, would-be scholar, and fairly consistent fitness monkey. My research interests include: the interface of religion and science, the history and philosophy of science and technology, ancient and medieval philosophy, and cognitive neuroscience. Please pray for me.
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2 Responses to Charity wearies not with waiting…

  1. Tony Jokin says:

    Reading this, I can’t help but think the seeds for what would later happen in VII and after were sown and growing as far back as when this was written.

    I think the idea that “harsh” correction can be detrimental, while not a heresy or anything of that sort, was probably the first position that enabled and fostered every heresy, error and sin to spread. The term “Harsh” after all is a subjective term. For an example what is considered “harsh” today in North America or Europe is hardly considered “harsh” in a country like Africa. It is too much of a subjective social construct that has no objective basis underneath it to draw the line and define it.

    Even more problematically, the position of “not being harsh” can evolve an entire culture to the level of simply being passive (as it has done today). For an example, if I were to not tell a child about the gravity of sins because it upsets the child, this kid will grow up and have that expectation from society. When society therefore upsets and sees his sad reaction, the society will feel guilt and readjust. In other words, one can naturally go from something that seemed reasonable to complete and absurd passive position toward not condemning anything (as has happened today).

    So what we have today is an entire society that is actually very “sensitive”. You can point out that something they did is wrong and they will be sad and feel anger towards you. More importantly, this lack of correction also means a high degree of pride (since if one is always right, one rarely experiences the need of being humble) which makes them more likely to also rebel back when corrected than accept it with humility. Therefore, to take this stance seems to me like a sure way of building up a society that is puffed up with pride that gets upset with any correction.

    Finally, we self fulfill our starting premise that “harsh correction is detrimental” by creating a society in which harsh correction is met with anger and pride.

    I cannot help but think that every society should encourage “harsh” correction (in proportion to harm done of course) if necessary rather than speak of being patient as a way of charity. I think what needs to be stressed is that we correct out of good will rather than out of a need to feel superior, spite, put others down, or to puff our own selves up. After all, if Pius X is saying we should be patient for God rewards for our good will, why not be harsh for a good cause? Is there not a necessity to do so when one sees the grave harm one can do to society in advocating “not being harsh” which is an entirely subjective concept that can degrade society to what it has become today?

    What I always find troubling on this subject is that Jesus Christ himself was pretty harsh with the Pharisees. Are we to believe that he could have approached matters in a better way? Perhaps if he had been more lenient and patient with them, the Pharisees would have been more receptive of Christ than they were and proclaimed him the Messiah?

  2. Tony Jokin says:

    I am also thinking the following.

    The term harsh should only be used to describe either

    a) Use of force (verbal or physical) that is disproportionate to the gravity and harm done by a sinful act.
    b) Insistence of administering/demanding the maximum proportionate penalty for a repentant sinner who has confessed his sins (i.e. acknowledged the sin, trying hard to to amend his/her ways, and has sought forgiveness).
    c) Use of force (verbal or physical) toward a sinner when subjective culpability for an act seems reasonably lacking

    Each person that witnesses a committing of a sinful act by a fellow Christian should always correct the individual person within something like the limits above.

    I think that avoids subjectivity to some extent. But it’s just my humble opinion about this matter that came to mind while thinking further about your article.

Be kind, be (relatively) brief, be clear...

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