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Book Club – Spiritual Combat – Love Thy Neighbor

July 17, 2012 by  
Filed under Book Club, Vicki Burbach

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…whoever unjustly condemns his neighbor has good reason for suspecting himself guilty of the same crime, inasmuch as vicious men are prone to think others like themselves.

When, therefore, we find ourselves inclined to condemn others, let us inwardly accuse ourselves with this just reproof: “Blind and presumptuous wretch, how dare you rashly examine your neighbors actions – you who have the same if not greater sins to answer for?” Thus in turning these weapons against ourselves, what might have been injurious to our neighbor becomes beneficial to us.

Even if a neighbor’s fault be publicly known, let charity suggest some excuse. Let us believe there are some hidden virtues, for the preservation of which God is pleased to permit the publicized deficiency; and let us hope that the fault in which God suffers him to remain for a time, may eventually bring the erring one to true self-knowledge, that being despised by others, he may learn the lesson of humility. Such a defeat is really a victory.

Where the sin, besides being commonly known, is also of the utmost gravity, and the sinner hardened in impenitence, we should raise our hearts to Heaven in deference to the inscrutable wisdom of God. For we should be mindful that many have emerged from the depths of depravity to become Saints, while others have fallen from angelic heights of perfection to satanic depths of sinfulness.

These reflections should convince every thinking person that carping criticism should begin with oneself. If one finds himself favorably disposed toward his neighbor, it is owning to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, whereas his rash judgements, dislike and contempt of others, owe their rise to his own malice and the promptings of the devil.

Let us remember then that, if ever we find ourselves too attentive to the failings of others, we must not cease until we have entirely erased them from memory. Spiritual Combat, pg. 136-137 (TAN version; The corresponding quote from Sophia Press is found on pages 117-118, from When, therefore…effaced from your heart.).

When I read the above quote, I was reminded of one of my favorite role models, Servant of God Elizabeth Leseur, whose atheist husband become a Catholic priest upon her death, after her years of prayer and sacrifice for his conversion. She never once said a word questioning his views or defending the Church, and her diary is an amazing witness to the heart that we’re trying to develop as we read Spiritual Combat. Elizabeth didn’t judge others. Rather than asking “Why” others behaved a certain way, she asked “How can I be a better example?” “How can I pray more, sacrifice more, love more so that others will feel the love of Christ? And then she went about fervently doing those things. At one point, she made a vow “To try always to understand everything and everyone. Not to argue; to work instead through contact and example; to dissipate prejudice, to reveal God and make Him felt without speaking of Him; to strengthen one’s intelligence, to enlarge one’s soul more and more; to love without tiring, in spite of disappointment and indifference. Above all, to draw to oneself the humble and the little ones so as to lead them to Him who loves them so much.” Elizabeth Leseur was the embodiment of our reading this past week.

My recent behavior, on the other hand, was the antithesis of the virtues our reading advocates. Last night, two of my daughters (ages six and ten) and I stayed in a hotel for an annual event we attend. Upon entering the lobby, we were surrounded by men dressed to the hilt in feminine garb. They wore elegant costumes awash with sequins, beads and glitter. Upon their wigs, they wore large crowns, adorned with jewels. On their arms and faces, you could see evidence of their manhood – facial hair, arm hair, muscles, tattoos.

And I judged them. I judged them for exposing my daughters to a lifestyle to which I never want them exposed. I questioned them in my heart for the choices they’d made, and I was angry that my daughters had to witness those choices.

My frustration rose as we saw people dressed for this event just about everywhere we turned – the lobby, the elevator, and our room floor. As we were leaving the elevator for the pool, we came face to face with two of the most elaborately dressed male ‘women’ I have ever seen. They smiled at me. When they did, I experienced the grace of God. Even as I cringed when I saw them, out of the blue I felt the Holy Spirit move me. I know it was the Holy Spirit, because I had been like a mama bear – tense, wary and protective. But instantly, I felt a peace and love that I hadn’t known was there. And I immediately saw them as souls created by God and I was reminded that He loves them as much as He loves me. That they were each precious, and I was not to pass judgement, but only to love them.

Moments later, as I sat watching my girls bounce around in the pool, it occurred to me that my children were not nearly as scandalized by these people as they are by me on a daily basis. Yes, they witnessed things that raised questions and could have been scandalous. But how often are they scandalized by my sins? I am with them all day, every day. And what kind of example do I offer them? There are times when I get frustrated by their anger, impatient with their impatience, self-righteous about their selfishness and angered by their unkindness.

I tell myself that I must discipline them – but the word discipline is derived from the Latin word “disciplina”, which means ‘teaching, or instruction.’ What does my frustration with their behavior ‘teach’ them? What does my impatience with their repeated offenses ‘teach’ them? What do I ‘teach’ them when I lose my temper because of unkindness or thoughtlessness toward a sibling? The truth is, when they witness my anger, my impatience and my selfishness, they learn volumes more about fallen human nature than they did last night.

Discussion Questions:

1. What was your take on this passage?  Any personal experiences or revelations you'd like to share?

2. Would a vow help you to keep these resolutions in mind? If so, what would your vow look like?

3.  Please feel free to comment on any of the reading or discussion thus far.

 

Schedule for This Week (Keep in mind that this is approximate – if you read somewhere around that range, we’ll still be reading together):

TAN:  pg. 143–173 (to Ch. 56 Concerning Spiritual Communion)

Sophia Press: pg. 125-155 (to Make Devout Spiritual Communions)

NOTE:  The TAN version of Spiritual Combat has a second book attached (at least that's how it appears) – A Treatise on Peace of Soul; I had not intended to read that book, as I assumed other version wouldn't have it.  But I've just realized in comparing versions that the Sophia version has this portion too, only it's seamlessly part of the same book.  In that light, we'll plan to read it all, but will add an extra week to this book – which means we have three weeks left, including the above assignment.  The last week will have a little more reading, so you're welcome to read ahead a little if you'd like.  Most weeks, I've planned for about 30-35 pages – the last week will have closer to 45.

NOTE 2: I will be announcing the next book soon, so stay tuned – I may post it this Thursday, which will allow you ample time to acquire a copy.

Read more: Previous Book Club Posts

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About Vicki Burbach

Vicki Burbach is a wife and homeschooling mother of six children ages four to sixteen years who relishes the calm inspiration of spiritual reading amidst the roller coaster of life. A passionate convert to the Faith, Vicki is an avid reader who started the SpiritualDirection.com book club so she could embark with like-minded bibliophiles on a spiritual journey through some of the greatest Catholic books ever written. She is author of the new book How to Read Your Way to Heaven - A Spiritual Reading Program for the Worst of Sinners, the Greatest of Saints, and Everyone in Between. You can also find her at pelicansbreast.com

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  • Alexandra Campbell

    You are such a blessing! The ability to take the logs out of our own eyes and to overlook the specks in our brother’s eyes, even when those specks look much bigger than our logs is a true gift from God.

    In my life with my children I have been guilty, like you, of demonstrating a lack of charity more times than I can count. I have learned to acknowledge my sinfulness and to ask their forgiveness.

    Sometimes, since my husband left me, I have given in to the sin of detraction. Just this week I began remembering all the good and beautiful things about our marriage and made it a point to tell our two boys, 14 and 12, how special our marriage was, how much I loved their father and what a good man he is, deep down. I pray for his redemption often and I know that he is not happy with what he ended up with.

    I have my relationships with my Lord and my children for which I am extremely grateful. It is so hard not to make rash judgments and so easy to destroy someone else’s reputation with a few words, even if they are true. I am still learning the value of keeping silent if I don’t have something good to say…

    • Vicki

      Alexandra – Thanks for your comments. Isn’t it almost frightening how damaging our words can be to the reputation of others? And yet, those positive comments must be so powerful too (especially as you shared them with your children about their father – good for you!!!) As I tell my kids – build others up – never tear them down.

  • ThirstforTruth

    I think we have to be careful not to confuse discernment with judgment. For example, these “women” were not only very misguided but they were encourging a lifestyle of debauchery
    that normally would not even cross the minds of these innocent children. Very in your face with their scandalous and sinful behavior. Your first reaction I believe to be the correct one. To protect your children! To seem tolerant of them would be giving the wrong message to your children and perhaps suggesting to them that these people were not so bad as just misguided. Being tolerant of this disordered behavior has led to great confusion in our society.
    Perhaps I do not understand your point but judgment is not only good but necessary to live moral lives and to teach our children that sin exists and must be avoided.
    I am sure you did not suggest to your daughters that these people’s behavior was good and it was wise not to over-react.
    But to say you could not judge their behavior as sinful without being sinful yourself is just plain silly. We have to make moral judgments all day long. To say we hate the sin but not the sinner is true but we can also be guilty of going
    overboard the other way in the name of so called tolerance!
    I understand the other part about the anger you feel when your children are not behaving in the way you feel is right and proper. But again, there is justifiable anger (as when Christ overturned the tables in the Temple) A parent must not let the anger become uncontrollable so much that they
    abuse rather than teach. But kids need to see and understand that their actions have consequences, such as when they behave in certain (uncharitible)ways their mother will become angry with them and reprove them. And thus they learn to control themselves. The world of emotion is not all bad as you suggest here. Neither is all judgment.

    • Then Levi gave a great banquet for
      him in his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were at table
      with them.

      30

      The Pharisees and their scribes
      complained to his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax
      collectors and sinners?”

      31

      Jesus said to them in reply, “Those
      who are healthy do not need a physician, but the sick do.
      NAB Luke 5:29-31
      Hating the sin does not preclude smiling at a sinner. Teaching our children about sin must also include the love of the sinner. We can sit at tables with (i.e. share hotels with) sinners and be an example of Christ just as Elizabeth of LeSuer was to her sinful husband whom she never said a word to disprove or question.

  • Jeanette

    One day, I was before Jesus praying and someone came to mind and I asked Jesus why they did a particular thing…it was a minor shortcoming. Jesus said to me interiorly: “Do not judge.” It was said gently but He meant it. This comment hit me like a ton of bricks and drove home to me the seriousness of not judging others…even in a very minor way. I knew within my soul that judging others is very serious business with God. We are to give everyone the benefit of the doubt as we do not know what has happened to them in their past or what they are going through now that would cause them to do or say something that we would find wrong or sinful. We are all on a journey and we all sin or fall short of what God expects of us at one time or another. We should practice the merciful outlook with others and pray for anyone who we perceive is struggling…believer or unbeliever. I just try to think that everyone has the intent to be good and are trying their best in the situation that they are in. And I try to remember to pray for them. Please do not think that I have overcome judging others. It is a daily spiritual battle and I ask for grace from Jesus every day to love others as He would have me love them. I hope that these thoughts help someone….

    • Vicki

      Jeanette- Very well-said. I’m sure your words will help many! Thank you.

  • Kathy

    I think that the idea of not judging the other becomes too generalized. It can become an excuse for passivity. Yes, there is the kind of judgement that comes out of our own brokenness that so easliy points fingers at the other person, but there is another type too that I think often gets overlooked. In the very first part of the excerpt provided today, Lorenzo Scupoli states,”…whoever unjustly condemns his neighbor…” The key word here is “unjustly,” but what about just judgement? It is ok to judge another’s actions when that person is sinning, trespassing, acting in an unjust way. We are still called to love them. I think it would be unloving to not say something. By saying something we may be pointing out to them a blindspot that could help them grow to become a more holy person, should they choose to do something about it. Maybe it is the difference between judging a person’s actions and judging a person. We are called to judge right from wrong but not to condemn another created in the image of God.

    • It might be interesting to reflect on the words of Jesus in reaction to His betrayal by Judas. After the event in the garden, how did Jesus speak of Judas? The action of Judas can easily be placed well within the category of the most unjust, sinful, actions of all time…

      • Kathy

        I am looking at Matthew chapter 26. I am interested in exploring what you bring up and how it relates to the excerpt chosen for today’s discussion, but I am not completely clear what you are referring to, nor am I strong in my understanding of scripture. In verse 50, Jesus tells Judas to go ahead and carry out what he came to do. Is this what you are making reference to? It seems like God is using the sinfulness of a man to bring about an ultimate good(the death, resurrection, and ascension of the Christ). In the next chapter, Judas feels so bad that he returns the money and then takes his life. In returning the money(in the act of flinging it into the temple), he recognized what he had done wrong, and wants to make things right, but maybe he realizes that he can never make things right, so he ends his life. He probably feels deeply humiliated. Maybe it brings him to a self-knowledge that he can’t handle. I am struggling to make the connections here. Maybe we need to discern whether we should speak up against the sins of another or leave it in the hands of God to work through the situation.

        • He was completely silent. Jesus never said a word about Judas.

          • Vicki

            I think this is KEY! In the Hidden Power of Kindness, Fr. Lovasik asks what we accomplish by correcting people or berating them for their faults or sins. He says that if we think about ourselves, it is human nature to immediately become defensive when we are criticized. And often even good-willed corrections come off as criticism to the person addressed. He recommends prayer over correction whenever possible, and Elizabeth Leseur obviously felt that was the correct road to take as well – I imagine the fruits of her prayer went a lot further than her words could have ever taken her – we don’t have the power to heal. God may use us as instruments, but only He has the power to change hearts.

          • Kathy

            This verse from Matthew 18 comes to mind and it seems to contradict the idea of choosing prayer over correction. “If your brother* sins [against you], go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have won over your brother.
            16* i
            If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, so that
            ‘every fact may be established on the testimony of two or three
            witnesses.’
            17j If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church.* If he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector.

            Is there a difference between correcting someone and pointing out to
            them what they have done? Is it dependent upon the situation? This seems to say that one should go to a great extreme to get the person to see the error of their way, challenging the praying over correcting idea.

            I would rather pray for someone than correct someone because it feels more productive. I have seen people get defensive and not wanting to admit that they have done wrong(and for their own sake). I have turned to prayer when trying to say something to someone hasn’t worked. I would be interested in others insights. Where does this teaching of Jesus fit in?

          • judeen

            what you have said, might not be excepted at the time.. but in the right time it is remembered.. in Gods time not ours.. we still have to have the courage to stand up and say no , I do not think this is right.. .. we are egknowledging Gods ways to others.. so too God will egknowledge us…. and will not leave us embarrassed..

          • Kathy

            Thank you for your insights and the information Vicki and judeen. How we approach people matters a lot, and it is helpful to have some guidance in that. It is hard to act and not know, right there and then, how your actions have affected the other person, even when you trust that you have done what God has called you to. It is true that even if you get a negative response, that person may still have taken it in and we have to leave the timing up to God for when it will affect that person. I forget that, a lot!. I am grateful for this opportunity to exchange ideas, because as the conversation unfolds, things become more clear. I also appreciate the support of the many other perspectives offered. This is a topic that I have struggled with greatly for years, and engaging in conversation about it and seeing it from different points of view brings me clarity about how to deal with situations in a very practical way. Thank you!

          • LizEst

            Wise words Kathy. It does help to articulate these things, to move our faith from the theoretical to the actual. God bless you.

          • Vicki

            Kathy- I know you’re looking for responses from others, and I hope many will respond because I think this is such an interesting conversation – there is such a fine line between criticism and correction, and many of us cross that line and do not benefit the sinner because of our approach.

            I was not advocating that we should never admonish a sinner – that is a spiritual work of mercy. In my situation, I had certainly judged people in my heart – and where anger and frustration is involved, love cannot dwell. Of course, my anger was due to my daughters’ exposure to the aforementioned lifestyle; but that doesn’t change the facts.

            I mentioned Fr. Lovasik in my above comment. In the Hidden Power of Kindness, he does address correction of sinners, and he offers practical advice:
            1. Avoid harsh words – harsh words can wound the heart and disturb the soul.
            2. Bear with your neighbor in spite of his faults – …St. Margaret Mary’s sound advice is this: “Be humble toward God and gentle with your neighbor. Judge and accuse no one but yourself, and ever excuse others…
            3. Remember the punishment for unkind talk – Uncharitable talk should cause you deep concern. You need only think of God’s judgement and the account that you will have to render on the observant of the eighth commandment…realize the true meaning of Christ’s words: “As you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.”
            4. Imitate the graciousness of Christ – Graciousness is the quality of being sincerely kind and loving toward others in word and deed…
            5. Pray for your neighbor – If you pray for unsympathetic persons half as much as you talk about their faults, how many sins would you avoid and how much happier your life would be…Pray for yourself also, that God may help you to become supernaturally gracious toward others – to add an encouraging smile to the word you may speak, a heartening tone to your often-colorless voice, and a gentleness of touch in the act that otherwise might be too rigorous.

          • LizEst

            Good stuff, Vicki!

            “Nothing graces the Christian soul as much as mercy!” St Ambrose

          • judeen

            do we not seek the right road? and if someone sees it differently,,, it is a insight,, a knowledge or conversation to seek the truth… ? critizism.. ? is this a put down? or a feeling? when seeking the truth, is ther critizism? or discussion of truth? and wisdom of all involved broght to gether to enlighten and reveal depth of our souls… and seeking of God in this case… your so right.. we are instruments.. of Gods power.. use us oh Lord.. give us the words.. actions and wisdom that is needed in this situation…. she stood face to face.. with this man.. who dresses like a women.. with all her kids around her listening… Hes looking to shock.. kids looking for truth… mom is looking for why me? why am I in this situation.. what to say… it is a hard situation.. but God has put her there. why? kind truth.. for if not here.. with mom , it will be introduced in books at school , 1st gr. they introduce gay people … living our faith is not easy… truth is not easy

          • judeen

            did he not say it would better not to be born? also some one is to betray me… at supper… the 1 who dipps the bread.. also he confronted Judus , you betray me with a kiss….

  • littlestflower1

    Only God knows what is in another person’s heart, and it brings to mind a line from a poem by WH Auden which states “You shall love your crooked neighbour with all your crooked heart”. It is humbling to consider that as often as we judge others there are probably just as many people judging us.

    • Vicki

      I love that quote – it will an easy one to remember! Thanks!

  • pia

    This chapter really hit home for me! As the matriarch of my immediate family – my four grown children and their now growing families, I find find myself trying to lead by example. Seeing my children’s spouse’s and future spouse’s values or lack there of, being incorporated into our family dynamics is sometimes a painful process. I have struggled with one particular person’s tendency to find fault with others in the family behind their backs and the unnecessary problems it causes. I have found the tools that I need to continue to lead by example. My now deceased father was great at this, and his family followed his lead out of respect. When he passed on, our family lost it’s leader but were at the point in our lives that we all formed our own family units with children and grandchildren and carried on his beliefs and his values that he taught so well eithout ever stepping on others toes.

    • judeen

      does God want you to step up? to say.. why do you say that? dont we all have our faults… ? maybe you see this because of the past? so on… it stops things in our tracks mom use to say , what would you do if they died… then it is to late to realize you love 1 another….

  • Cara

    Aren’t there times that we should make a public statement (“judgment”) about the evil other people do? Should I not try to talk someone out of getting an abortion? Should I not report child abuse? Although I also commit sin, should I keep quiet when I see evil and can stop it?

    • judeen

      yes,, this is living your faith… but do not condemn them.. be gentle , kind… this is different .. than saying a person is ……. just to put them down.. 1 has to look at 1s own heart.. why are you saying this.. to get help.. to understand ,,, courage to do the right thing.. spiritual help.. or just to run down the person. make fun of them…. so on…. or joining in with the crowd.. a better than you attitude… if you can answer these questions..than you know where you stand… we must stand up and say bad things are wronge.. silence has gotten us in the middle of a sinnful world.. truth is truth.. but be christian about it… wounds go deep.. in the person and your self.. and others… and it affects our way of life… as christians we should help others find what is right

  • LizEst

    1.a. I have been on both the giving and receiving sides of judgment. This is always something I need to watch out for and can always use reminders on. Thanks for including Elizabeth’s story. What wonderful faith and patience with the movement of the Spirit in their lives!
    1.b. My sister, who has a severely developmentally disabled child, has often been questioned by others when they see her park in a handicap space. Getting out of her vehicle, they perceive correctly there is nothing wrong with my sister. So, they read her the riot act about not parking there…until she turns to them and says, as she opens the door to get my niece out, “Did you ever stop to think that my child might be disabled?” When I am tempted to judge, I hear both the Scriptural warning not to judge and her voice, “Did you ever stop to think…?” Human beings are often very quick to judge and not so quick to think. With God’s grace, I pray to grow in not judging others, to be more charitable towards others, and to be more accepting of correction as well.

    2. No, I don’t find a vow necessary to help with this.

    3. It is very important not to judge lest we be judged. Nevertheless, fraternal correction and instruction is a responsibility we owe our children and others. It is not a parental mercy (or a pastoral mercy) to refrain from pointing to the Way and the Truth and the Life who is Christ. What can one do about cross-dressers at a hotel? Probably nothing except pray for them, unless they engage you in conversation! Even then, it must be charitable discussion open to the possibility of Christ. You are to be commended, Vicki, for your patience and for showing them charity.

    The hotel management has a moral responsibility to tell
    families with young children that it’s hosting that kind of group. If desired, this permits families to choose other lodging. I also see this as a teachable moment for children (perhaps you said something to your own but didn’t write about it, something like: most adult men don’t do what they are doing but, as Christians, we are still supposed to treat them politely and with charity). Six and ten are not too young to learn these things. We have to start telling them about the dangers of drugs at a very early age, even though they may not be scandalized by such. Likewise, it’s not too young to tell them, in an age appropriate manner, about the dangers associated with this type of behavior. Seven is considered the age of reason by the Church. And, from a famous Frank Storaska video, you are what you were when…you were about ten years old (from a developmental perspective). In other words, our values are somewhat firmly established by about the age of ten (this doesn’t mean we don’t grow spiritually). That said, I don’t know how I would have reacted in a similar situation. Surprise tactics are used not just by the military but by the devil as well. I once read that where one finds someone in grave sin, Christ is present in them, too…but, in that person, he is entombed waiting to rise! I don’t know that dressing up in someone else’s clothes is a sin, but it can be an occasion of sin by confusing some people and leading them down sinful and dangerous roads. It certainly doesn’t help form young minds. For me personally, it’s a little creepy because it seems to go against the natural order of things.

    Vicki, you are right that we have to watch over our own behavior very carefully. Our personal conduct is the only Gospel some people will know. In order to make Christ known, we must believe the Gospel we read, we must preach what we believe by our lives and sometimes by our words, and we must practice what we preach by living authentic Christian lives, in season and out of season, when it is convenient and when it is inconvenient, when it is popular and when it is unpopular.

    God bless you, Vicki. You’re doing a marvelous job with the book club. You’ve certainly made people think! 😉

    • Vicki

      Liz, Thanks so much for your comments. Regarding how I handled the situation at the hotel, you are right that my children are not too young to learn to be charitable and that most men don’t dress like that, but I opted not to bring any question into their minds. I’m sure people are curious as to how I handled it, so I thought I’d share. The desk clerk told me that it was a fundraiser, so I honestly told my girls that these men were dressed really silly to raise money for a cause. They were satisfied, and it saved them from wondering why these men were unusual – I think they likened it to their Uncle, who dresses really silly on Halloween to make people laugh. I thought that was the safest route to take, and I’m pretty certain they’ve not given it another thought.

      • LizEst

        Excellent age appropriate response. Great solution. Glad it satisfied them. I was actually thinking one could liken it to Halloween.

    • Robert Kraus

      You know, I wasn’t sure I was going to leave a comment this week as I don’t have any real personal experiences on this point and everyone’s expressed much of my thinking so far. But I had to point out, Liz, that I was struck by your quote:
      ” Our personal conduct is the only Gospel some people will know.”
      Honestly, well said, and sums it up better than I ever could.

      • LizEst

        Thanks for your kind words, Robert. God bless you.

  • abandon56

    Wow. Great, honest reflection! It’s the judgementalism to which we are prone that SO turns others away from Christ. Our faults and failings, big and small, are what keep us dependent and if we trust, we find God doing everything for us. This is so beautifully true in the grace and peace God gave you. Your elevator experience is such a wonderful story of God’s love for all of us. Thank you for sharing.

  • GHM_52

    I liked the practical way in which Vicky handled the situation with her kids. Silence is generally golden as it helps us avoid sins of the tongue, which are generally about passing wrong judgment on our brothers and sisters is Christ. Vicky was tense when the situation came up and she may not have been able to handle the situation with great charity. However, in general terms, I agree with “asydwy”, “LizEst”, “Cara”, and “Kathy”. God Himself gave us the capacity to judge…actions, and we need to do that in order to discern truth from error. The behavior of men who dress up as women (unless we are talking about an innocent fun show) is intrinsically disordered and we should not be afraid to think it so, or calling it so, under certain circumstances, as for instance, if we are in any type of “teaching” position. The “trick” (and very hard part for us) is to judge and reject the action, but NOT judge the motivations and state of the soul of the doer of the action, much less reject, insult, or contemptuously dismiss the person, who was called to life with as much love as we were and for whom the God we believe and hope in died in the Holy Cross. Dan asks us to think about Our Savior’s treatment of Judas….and we see how merciful He was to the very end. In the movie “The Passion”, the actor playing the role of Our Savior lovingly stares after Judas as if wiling him to repent. It is one of my favorite scenes. However, the biblical account shows us that the Savior did not mince words when He said it “would have been better for Judas not to be born”! Harsh words! I always tremble a bit when I read this. To hear “God” Himself, who treasures His creation, say something like that takes my breath away! I just pray and pray and hope and hope He will never have to say that of me!!!
    In any event, we do love to judge in a wrong way and do it very often…I know I do and have no doubt that I need to commit to either Mother Theresa’s, Elizabeth Le Seur’s, or the Little Flower’s way. Thank God this is doable …with the Lord’s and Mother Mary’s assistance. I don’t think I need to do a vow, but I will consider it. The issue is so important for Our Redeemer and our salvation that we should consider doing whatever may be necessary to comply with the First Commandment. Thank you for the post, Vicky, and thank-you all for your remarks…They are very edifying!

  • littlelamb4him

    I read this post this morning. How wonderful the Lord works. Later in the day as I was feeling very judgmental about some in the Church, i was reminded of this and began to accuse myself of those very sins. The Holy Spirit helped me to see their “dysfunction” in light of my own dysfunction and wrong desires for the promotion of self.
    Praise be God!

  • judeen

    I got lost in critizism and correction.. 2 very different things… gossip or condemning.. or forgiving or standing up for what is right.. -truth.. 2 very different things.. the 1st condemning./gossip, we are all sinful people.. we all have our faults,, we see our faults in others.. situations of sin… we are put into.. we choose. to correct or condemn… to pick Gods ways.. or the devils… it has to come from the heart.. and soul… to correct.. or deside to make fun or put down….. which 1 do we choose

  • Merline

    Many a times when I thought that I was right and others were wrong, I think I was judging them. The Holy Spirit Himself has led me to read this because my past week’s life needed this thought to get back to the perfectness of God which we all have been called to.
    About the experience shared, how skeptical sometimes do I think that others around me are a bad example to my children?
    It is true that correcting the hidden flaws in me will supplement all the other bad influences which my children absorb from outside.

  • After a busy Sunday out of the City to take the Divine Mercy Message to one of the Rural Parishes in our beloved Country, Kenya, I am coming onto this one rather late…..I have read most of your Responses which are very educative and illuminating. The Cardinal Rule that I note in this Passage is this:

    “…..whoever unjustly condemns his neighbor has good reason for suspecting himself guilty of the same crime…..,”

    The Key Word is “Unjustly”. We need to remember one the Spiritual Works of Mercy taught by Mother Church is : “Admonish Sinners”.

    Coming into a Hotel and finding Homosexuals arrogantly exhibiting their disordered lifestyle, calls one to say a Prayer for them, but not try to find excuses or appear to condone their unacceptable ways of life. We also need to remember what Mother Church and Christ Himself teaches us: ” Love the sinner but Hate The Sin”. Disapproving of and rejecting Homosexuality, Abortion, Euthanasia and all those abberations which have become acceptable in the Western World is not being condemnatory and unjustly judging those who live these lifestryle whatsoever. It is, in fact, accepting God’s Call and doing one’s Divine responsibility, rejecting evil and standing up and defending Christ and the Teachings of His Church. The Culture of Death now rampant in these countries, especially the attempt to call homosexual and lesbian co-habitations “Marriages” needs to be condemned without fear or favour. It is against God’s Divine Law and Natural Law. Allowed to flourish, the catastrophic result will ultimately be total destruction of not only the Family – the Domestic Church – but the entire mankind. We must restore the dignity of man who is crated in the Image and Likeness of God. We must defend with everything we have, the sacredness of life – from conception to Natural Death. To condemn such un-Godly attitude and Government-supported butchery of the unborn, the destruction of the dignity of mankind is not passing judgement, but is, in fact, doing God’s Will to defend His Creation and the future of the Human Race.

    In other occasions, one needs to be aware that often times you get judgemental about others when they display faults which you yourself probably have and have not been honest with yourself to accept you have such a weaknesses.

    Reading the first Chapters of this Book did throw me into a panic because I could see my own failings and the dominant role my puny ego has taken from time to time of pushing herself to be in-charge of my various life situations or decisions. I felt I would never be able to attain the conversion I am striving for and subdue this destructive selfish “self” in me. The condemnations were too harsh for this old heart who is seeing “the shadows of the oncoming night gathering on the Western Sky”…..but reading further, the subsequent Chapters gave me hope and I realized all is not lost. I have my Christian, Spiritual, Sacramental and Devotional Life well established in my Rule of Life. And soon, God will give me another Spiritual Director to walk with me. And with His Graces, even if I cannot eliminate the Cardinal Sin and her Companion-Root Sins and the fallen human sinful tendencies altogether, the Graces from the Sacraments will help me to stay “in the trenches” and gallantly continue the vicious fight…..with the Intercessions of my Personal Patron, the Virgin Mother of our Saviour, and the entire Church Triumphant joined in the Combat with me, there is no fear of losing so long as I do not despair and give up the fight. That is what Satan would love to see – my giving in to discouragement and despair. And I am determined I shall not grant Him that pleasure. We are all called to remain vigilant and fight without getting tired, remembering Our Holy Mother, all the Angels and Saints are on our side.

    • Vicki

      Mary – I agree with you wholeheartedly. You’ve addressed the issue very well – thank you. In my situation, I was not implying that we condone or even accept the behavior displayed in that hotel. But by judging them in my heart out of anger and frustration, I was not productive, only sinful.

      I think the second paragraph above addresses my thoughts somewhat: Where the sin, besides being commonly known, is also of the utmost gravity, and the sinner hardened in impenitence, we should raise our hearts to Heaven in deference to the inscrutable wisdom of God. For we should be mindful that many have emerged from the depths of depravity to become Saints, while others have fallen from angelic heights of perfection to satanic depths of sinfulness.

      I can certainly not comment on their impenitence, or lack thereof, but I think that in my situation, the most appropriate thing to do (outside of my first priority, which was to protect my children) would have been to remember how fallen I am, and pray for those men out of love and compassion.

      • Vicki, in situations where we are not able to do anything, Mother Church, and Jesus Christ Himself, teaches us to commit those in error to unceasing Prayer in Virtue of His Passion so that the Holy Spirit can touch their souls and convert them – even if it is at the moment of death. The Eucharistic Apostles of the Divine Mercy’s Chief Mission is to pray for the Sinners, especially the hardened Sinners….that is not to imply we are not Sinners ourselves…..for “all have sinned and fallen…..” Along with praying for sinners we are called upon to daily pray for the sick, the dying, the aborted infants, the abandoned, the lonely, the homeless, the elderly, those with insurmountable problems and are almost losing hope, our Holy Mother Church, especially where She is under Persecution and in a very special way for our Priests, Men and Women Religious, the Holy Souls in Purgatory and for Peace in the World.

        • Vicki

          Amen! Thank you for reminding us of all those who so desperately need our prayers each and every day!!

    • LizEst

      Hmm, did I miss something? I took it that these men were cross-dressers and not necessarily homosexual.

  • Jeanette

    When I was reciting this prayer today, I felt I should share it…because of our discussion this week. It is a prayer written by St. Faustina of the Divine Mercy:
    Prayer to Be Merciful
    O Lord, I want to be completely transformed to Your mercy and to be Your living reflection. May the greatest of all divine attributes, that of Your unfathomable mercy, pass through my heart and soul to my neighbour.
    Help me, O Lord, that my eyes may be merciful, so that I may never suspect or judge from appearances, but look for what is beautiful in my neighbor’s souls and come to their rescue.
    Help me, O Lord, that my ears may be merciful, so that I may give heed to my neighbors’ needs and not be indifferent to their pains and moanings.
    Help me, O Lord, that my tongue may be merciful, so that I should never speak negatively of my neighbor, but have a word of comfort and forgiveness for all.
    Help me, O Lord, that my hands may be merciful, and filled with good deeds, so that I may do only good to my neighbors and take upon myself the more difficult and toilsome tasks.
    Help me, O Lord, that my feet may be merciful, so that I may hurry to assist my neighbor, overcoming my own fatigue and weariness.
    Help me, O Lord, that my heart may be merciful so that I mayself may feel all the sufferings of my neighbor.
    May your mercy, O Lord, rest upon me. (Diary #163).

  • Qoheleth

    I am so edified by you all reading and discussing this book! I am moved deeply by this article by Dan Burk. Wow! Thanks for reminding me to love and re-read Elizabeth’s book.

  • This entire situation reminds me of my own experience on this particular topic. Just a few years ago I found I was quite often disturbed and judgmental about people that I might see in passing, (say, going in and out of Walmart). It was an automatic response just from sight. Rationally, I would tell myself that looks are not the heart of the person that only God could know, but I was often disturbed by my automatic reaction to condemn by sight. I finally began to practice a prayer of blessing for each person who ignited this response in me. I finally have found that I rarely have this automatic condemnation of people that are different in looks or manner than what I would consider ‘right’. I see this as a grace from God that my passing judgment this way was wrong.
    I still pray for situations that occur in my life of which I know to be sinful. My automatic reactions may not be the right thing to do, so I have to pray to God for His mercy and for the wisdom, understanding, and fortitude to enlighten me for any actual action I may take that would be in God’s will for this situation.
    It is so easy for us to act immediately on our automatic judgement, but it is always best to approach these situations with prayer and with pure intention for God’s will to be done, not my own.

    • LizEst

      Wonderful words, Jeanie. And, terrific advice, too, to pray for those we automatically react to in a negative way. Happy Lord’s Day!

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