Friday, June 29, 2012

Fraternal charity

I just finished my yearly clergy retreat, a very good and enriching experience. It wasn't the first retreat that I have done with the clergy in Brasilia, but there was something very special about this one.

This afternoon, as we were finishing our last meditation and heading for Mass, it dawned on me that the spirit of charity among priests here is very different from what I had experienced in the Legion. Keep in mind that our spirit of silence is pretty relative. For the most part there was silence after the talks, some had a harder time than others, but there were moments when we got a chance to chat.

Among the clergy there are those who know each other very well, especially those who were ordained together. Others, like me, still feel a little like outsiders. But what was remarkable was the lack of leg pulling, cutting one another down because of weight, height, temperament or other physical or personal attributes. That struck me so much that I had to mention it to you. That was not my experience in the Legion.

I remember that Maciel had written a number of letters about fraternal charity, about not picking on one another's defects. But it didn't matter. That was a constant way of treating one another. Mostly because it was how we were treated by the superiors. Maciel himself did it. It was alright for a superior to cut his subjects down publicly, and therefore it was accepted among all legionaries.

In a nutshell, charity did not depend so much on what you said and did to one another, but the attitude of the one that was insulted. If someone easily shook it off and went on his way, the more he was teased. If someone got unnerved, well, he usually didn't make it in the Legion.

I'm not saying there weren't those who sincerely sought to live charity. There were. I'm saying there was a way of treating one another ingrained in the system that only sought to humiliate and destroy. Many of us carried the cross of humiliation silently, out of charity. That cross was heavy indeed.

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