Aug 12 – Memorial for St. Jane Frances de Chantal
St. Jane married Baron de Chantal. She restored order in the household, which was on the brink of ruin, and brought back prosperity. During her husband’s absence at the court, or with the army, when reproached for her extremely sober manner of dressing, her reply was: “The eyes which I must please are a hundred miles from here.” She found, more than once, that God blessed with miracles the care she gave the suffering members of Christ. Baron de Chantal was accidentally killed by a harquebus while out shooting. Left a widow at 28, with four children, the broken-hearted baroness took a vow of chastity.
She founded the Congregation of the Visitation, whose aim was to receive, with a view to their spiritual advancement, young girls and even widows who had not the desire or strength to subject themselves to the austere ascetical practices in force in all the religious orders at that time. The remainder of the saint’s life was spent under the protection of the cloister in the practice of the most admirable virtues. It was firmness and great vigour which prevailed in St. Jane Frances; she did not like to see her daughters giving way to human weakness. Her trials were continuous and borne bravely, and yet she was exceedingly sensitive.
Ezekiel 9: 1-7; 10: 18-22
Matthew 18: 15-20
If your brother does something wrong, go and have it out with him alone.
The deepest hurts come from those closest to you. The more you love a person, the more you can get hurt by their lack of love –- either for us, or for themselves. We get angry, disappointed, and sad. This is how I feel when I notice someone I care for losing their way, or when a friendship ends because of miscommunication/misunderstanding. If that person didn’t mean anything to me, it would have been easy to just shrug off the matter and move on.
The past 2 months have been testing for me at different levels, dealing through tough relationships –- from trying to help a friend through a tough financial situation, navigating a toxic, narcissistic family member, to friendships interrupted. With each of these situations, I struggled between doing the ‘Christ-like’ thing –- to love, be patient, be kind and be giving and forgiving. But in reality, it isn’t that easy.
In today’s gospel reading, Jesus teaches us ways of dealing with conflict –- have it out alone with the person who has wronged you, fix the problem at the source before it gets worse. If that doesn’t work, gather a couple of people to be your witnesses, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If that doesn’t work, report it to the community. And if that doesn’t help mitigate any wrongdoings or misunderstanding –- then basically just shun them (as with tax collectors or pagans). Or walk away.
As I reflected on this, and my own recent experiences –- I feel it’s not as simple or straightforward. There are different levels of human relationships and its complexities. And these relationships also come with each person’s ‘baggage’, or our own experiences in life that make it much more intricate. I was conflicted between ‘care’ and ‘cure’ for the person and the complex situations.
In mitigating the problem with my friend with the financial problem — the easy way is to chip in and solve the issue at hand. But that only solves the problem for today. It doesn’t solve a longer term issue. I processed this with my spiritual director –- and he asked me a pertinent question –- is what I am doing to ‘help’ a care or a cure? It took me awhile to think about this.
‘Cure’ is to render a way to ‘fix’ things, so that the immediate problem can be rectified. Looking to fix and cure may prolong our lives or, in this case, help solve the problem at hand, but it does not necessarily help the person in the long run. Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.
True care is a commitment — to making our every move, our every thought, word and action — loving and caring, for ourselves and for others. Sometimes, true care also means tough love.
It’s clear as daylight (from my viewpoint), the steps that need to be taken to move forward. However, if the other person simply doesn’t want to face the realities and make some difficult decisions –- then there’s little I can do. While it hurts me to see my friend spiral down the rabbit hole, it also makes me very angry and upset –- people in denial or depressive states cannot see beyond their own tainted lenses. And it’s hard to help them. So all I can do is to help the best I can, within my limitations. The rest I will just have to leave it to God and pray for my friend.
So when I am faced with conflicts, I choose to follow the gentle way traced by Jesus, trying to win back my sister or brother. I pray for that someone I know who is straying from the right path. I pray for myself to feel responsible for my brothers and sisters in the community of believers.
Jesus assures us he is present when people are gathered in his name.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)
Prayer: Whatever I do when I am upset, Lord, let me do it in charity.
Thanksgiving: I pray in gratitude for those who join me in the name of Jesus, and who make Him present in my life and my world.