Saturday, January 04, 2014

" INCIDENTAL IMPERFECTION" Bl. JOHN HENRY CARDINAL NEWMAN

Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman    

"I shall console myself with the reflection,
that life is not long enough to do more than your best,
whatever that might be;
that they who are ever taking aim,
make no hits;
that they who never venture,
never gain;
that to be ever safe,
is to be feeble;
and that to do substantial good,
is the compensation for much incidental imperfection."
 
I posted that quote here on 10th February, 2011. And, like most people I find it appealing. Maybe it specially appeals because it can tend to comfort and justify somewhat , the way we have acted - always in our minds for the best reasons. There are benefits in the present Internet era in the constant presentation to our minds of things we have always known , but now are brought together in such a way as to give us cause to reflect more deeply.
 
Such a text I came across recently the devout Irish Priest Father Martin Graham had long kept it at the head of the Facebook Page he administers. It goes like this :
 
 "Martin Graham
IMPORTANT MESSAGE

The greatest commandment of the Gospel is that of charity.

When replying to a post please remember the admonishment of Saint Peter - In your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behaviour in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. (1...See More"
 
 
It is also an interesting reflection on the Internet phenomenon that when I went to copy that for this Post it was no longer there - but happily I had a copy of it used for a more important purpose.
 
Now it is a pretty robust world on the Internet and in fact, a pretty robust world generally, so that I think sometimes we all fall into the trap of overlooking in practice, and to varying extents, the obligations of Charity . 
 
The problem is compounded by the many things we now know on a day by day basis that often touch upon and offend our deepest felt loyalties and sympathies. It is a problem I have faced. And, on reflection, I find that I might have been affected by those " incidental imperfections".
 
The problem of course is how to address the wrongs we see, some objective and undeniable, others the perception we have of events and actions and statement. I think the most that can be done, is to proceed perhaps more prudently, certainly always with restraint and respect, as Father's quote enjoins.
 
It is not a bad way to begin the New Year - some significant stocktaking - as we begin again to take up the challenge to do what we individually can - no matter how insignificant we are- to do God's Will - in His way and for His greater glory . We must remember Jesus' words:
 
By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13 : 35
 
and again:

"Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls."Matthew 11:29

We might also paraphrase the Orphan boy answering the great Father Flanagan of Boy's Town in America : " It ain't easy, but he's my brother" We are all brothers in Christ and I for one will be striving harder to have that consistently affect all I write. I will be happy to have any "incidental imperfection" drawn to my attention as it is noticed.
 

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