One of the challenges of living together in community is having to get on with the different personalities of people. One of the pivots of successful community living is the ability to be honest with one another – particularly when our faults and mistakes cause tension. Eugene always speaks of this quality as “fraternal correction.”
Young Bernard Vachon, in his first months of ministry, had become upset because he had been corrected.
It would be a great imperfection, my dear friend, to take it amiss that someone has warned you about mistakes you might have made at the start of your ministry, and a real injustice to be resentful to those who would have informed me about them. On both sides, we have performed an indispensable duty and it seems to me that far from complaining, you ought to be happy about this quite fraternal supervision which ensures your progress and preserves you from the error of illusion.
You know our Rules; they are in this respect eminently wise; let us never stray from them.
Letter to Bernard Vachon, 28 February 1825, EO VI n.172
Today, in our Oblate Rule of Life, we read under the heading “Fraternal Sharing:”
“A spirit of simplicity and joyfulness marks our communities. In sharing what we are and what we have with one another, we find acceptance and support. Each of us offers his friendship and places his God-given talents at the service of all… In humility and with the strength of charity, we express our responsibility for each other in fraternal correction and forgiveness.” CC&RR, Constitution 39
“We need at times, some of us at most times, that charity from others which, being Love Himself in them, loves the unlovable. But this, though a sort of love we need, is not the sort we want. We want to be loved for our cleverness, beauty, generosity, fairness, usefulness. The first hint that anyone is offering us the highest love of all is a terrible shock.” C.S. Lewis