instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Corrigere delinquentem magis ad severitatem

Today was the last RCIA session of the year, and I finally achieved my goal of not saying anything. (Or at least nothing that anyone could think was intended to be instructive. After the presenter joked about not being sure whether a turn of phrase she used came from our pastor or the Pope, I said, "The Pope is less busy. He'll return your email." And when the RCIA director asked if I had any parting comments, I said, "See you next week." (You know, Mass.) Other than that, silence.) The closest I came to having an audible thought was while looking at the list of the spiritual works of mercy:
  • To instruct the ignorant 
  • To counsel the doubtful 
  • To admonish sinners 
  • To patiently bear with those who annoy us 
  • To forgive offenses willingly 
  • To comfort the afflicted 
  • To pray for the living and the dead
This middle one is more often expressed as, "To bear wrongs patiently."  The presenter went with this version as being more concrete -- and besides, St. Thomas renders it "to bear with those who trouble and annoy us" (portare onerosos et graves).

Another catechist offered a variation on the old joke that admonishing sinners seems to come naturally to people, and I imagined an amended list:
  • To admonish the ignorant 
  • To admonish the doubtful 
  • To admonish sinners 
  • To admonish those who annoy us
  • To admonish prior to forgiving offenses
  • To admonish the afflicted 
  • To admonish the living and the dead
In an uncharacteristic moment of prudence, I kept this to myself. This particular crew of baby Catholics doesn't strike me as likely to weaponize the catechism. But let me try this here:

One item on the second list is merciful. At first glance, though, it looks like the other six items, none of which is merciful. It may similarly be difficult to be altogether sure whether a particular instance of admonishment is merciful.