Sunday, October 18, 2015

Them's Fighting Words

We held a wonderful Franciscan Day of Reflection for our two local Secular Franciscan fraternities yesterday. Conducted by two members of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, the focus was on Father Benedict Groeschel, the founder of their order who passed away one year ago (on October 3).

Amid the talks - the anecdotes - a Mass - a Holy Hour - a Rosary and a Chaplet of Divine Mercy - Confessions - and socializing with fellow Franciscan - I got a chance to talk with one of the Friars about my Franciscan struggles with anger, and with arguing.

After listening to me talk about how often I get caught up in arguing with other people over political and social issues - and my often using aggressive/provocative/confrontational/sarcastic language - he pointed out that that approach was indeed not very Franciscan, and that while some people can engage in such debates without crossing the line, not everyone can or is ready to.

A gentle way of suggesting I currently am not one of those people who can disagree like a Franciscan.

His suggestion was simple, but made sense: Avoid getting in to such disputes by avoiding the things that get me caught up in them. For me, that would mean avoiding situations such as online debates, responding to others comments or posts, getting caught up in reading about politics and the like. It's one thing to peacefully pray in front of Planned Parenthood during the 40 Days for Life campaign, for example, but it's another to respond and challenge and argue with people online about prolife issues or posting provocative comments and articles.

He said that the model given us by St. Francis is to act in loving ways, to be positive and supportive and gentle, not to be constantly critical and negative, or to confront and engage in disputes. That doesn't mean not standing up for what is right or taking action, but it does mean going about it in a different way and not becoming verbally violent.

So ... I'm trying to be more careful about what I post. I'm trying not to respond in an argumentative way. I'm trying not to react in a challenging way to what others say or post. I'm trying to avoid watching the political shows that get me so worked up. I'm trying to avoid the sharp or sarcastic or judgmental comments I'm so prone to in talking and writing. 

Maybe down the road I will be able to debate is a more Franciscan way, but I'm not spiritually strong enough to do so now.

Pax et bonum

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