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

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    Another morning of some discomfort. I have the feeling that this is or could be something we learn naturally as we grow up in members of a family, however my experience there was so outrageously abnormal that I am not sure. In our society today it seems to be understood by many that a different way might suggest that the current way is wrong rather than just being different. I remember one very special person, late in my teen years, who was as both Eugene and CS Lewis are talking about. Kay Cronin, a friend of my mother, was one who loved the unlovable. She loved me and I was able to listen to what she would tell me about myself and how I might change, I guess because I recognized it as love. Perhaps that might be the key, my recognizing it as love. For it was different from what I was used to and during that time I believed myself to be totally unlovable.

    Since that time I have changed my life, quit the drinking and drugging and all that becomes tied up with that way of living. I have experienced the personal and life-changing love of God. I have DONE so much. Listen to me. Yes I have done much, but how have I done it, what has been my attitude in the doing, how might I have done it better? How might I have been more loving? I am one of those who CS Lewis speaks of who wants to be recognized for my goodness, my cleverness, my generosity, my love, etc. etc. I need to remember that the good and the bad, the weak and the strong co-exist and one does not have to negate the other. Learning a new way, a better way can open me up to so much more in life.

    “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.” This is how we are called to live and be in our families, with our friends, in our communities, big or small, in our parishes, where we live. It requires great trust, in God, in our fellow persons.

    My prayer this morning – God give me the grace to be open to your love in the many forms it comes in. And give me the courage and the compassion to share your love as I have received it.

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