I was hoping to get some advice on this topic. We have all witnessed sin, some blatant and some not, the in lives of people who we know who are trying to grow spiritually - that is - people who we know well. Also, we are aware of blatant sin in our own lives but are not (at least I am not always) aware of its manifestations that are certainly public. Examples are gossip, pride, stretching the truth, etc.
How should, or better yet should we, challenge others that we know and are striving to grow? This would be different than formal spiritual direction.
How can we ensure this kind of input into our own lives?
How should we respond to the inevitable defensiveness? How can we be sure to remove the plank from our own eyes first?
I feel that we should be able to do this, but am reluctant to do so. I would like to have it redirected to help someone instead of hearing the whispers or eye rolls that happen behind someone’s (or my) back through gossip.
Yes and this is where rules do come into play because they help you to be protected and protect the sinner too.
Depends what kind of sin it is but on the whole if sin is being committed and you are concerned first speak to the priest.
If it is the priest then speak to the church wardens. If you not happy about doing that then anyone can go to the Bishop who will most likely pass it to the relevant adviser and it hopefully be handled sensitively whatever the sin is of the priest.
The priest may be throughly aware of what is happening for that person (in church)and is being there for them in a way they are comfortable with as of what happening to me at moment though am not doing anything illegal, am definately breaking many a sin but he is simply being there for me without judgement in a way I can access. He has earned my total trust on that score and is helping me well in that I can share via email and that is where it stays. But to another member of the congregation might be watching me somehow and see some things and try to help and would possibly do quite bit of damage though may mean well, not realising the priest knows quite a bit. So if you are really concerned for someone, whether its an illegal sin or a catholic sin, have a chat with the priest first, in confidence. Show the priest you’re concerned for that person that you want to help in some way.
ivecomeback, that’s an excellent set of questions! Too often, we are silent in the face of our brothers’ and sisters’ sins. We need to say something, out of charity, rather than allow them to rush headlong into hell.
We can participate in the sin of another in nine basic ways:
5.By Defense of Evil Done
Note number 9. Also, keep in mind the Spiritual Works of Mercy, among which are to 1) Admonish the sinner and 2) Instruct the ignorant. If someone, for example, misses Mass on Sunday without sufficient reason (sick, etc.), then we participate in their sin by our silence. If they know it’s wrong, then we must charitably admonish them and warn them that their soul is in peril. If they miss because they don’t know it’s a mortal sin (there really are those that don’t know!), then we must instruct them in the faith in this area.
As in all things, there are better or worse ways of doing these things. Speaking in general, the best approach is to pray and offer sacrifice before approaching them. We always “go to God about man before going to man about God,” as the old saying goes. Stack the deck, in other words! Then, remember that we, too, are sinners, and we are more effective when we are charitable. That doesn’t mean we sugar coat the truth or nuance it into ambiguity. We must speak plainly. But, all the while, we must do so out of true fraternal concern for their soul. Then, we must continue to pray for them, and allow God’s will to be done. Often, we don’t see the harvest. We’re just working in His garden (of souls), plowing, planting, watering, weeding, etc. He is the Divine Harvester.
Going to God in prayer first is so right. In one of the gospels, we are instructed to first go the brother if he is in sin, and if he does not change take it up the line to others (Matthew?) I’m not comfortable almost “ratting” on someone to the priest first because it is almost like spiritual gossip - but of course the seriousness of the offense could make that the best course of action.
However, what prompted my post was a crude remark made about our pastor when his back was turned so talking to our priest in this situation would be hurtful.
I guess HOW you handle it is based on the situation. From what you say, prayer is the first thing. After praying, I’d go with gentle admonisment of the person, or questioning to see what the person was thinking. Also, I’d have to be open to the probably inevitable outburst of “well, YOU do such and such” because there probably will be truth in it.
I like Barb’s approach. “What’s up with your remark? Let’s talk in private.”
I’m reminded of a priest who told the story of his mother, who was eating out with a group of women one day and the topic of the sexual abuse by priests came up. One woman started ranting and raving, blaming all priests, and condemning all of them to hell, basically. This priests mother said, “Watch your mouth. Those priests belong to God. They are certainly not all like that. In fact, very few are.” The woman, a few weeks later, came down with cancer of the mouth. It ate away her face and eventually killed her. He said he thought that was a very “interesting” turn of events.
That’s a creepy story, and a rather dangerous one I think. Was the priest alluding to the fact that this woman’s cancer was a punishment for running her mouth about priests? That’s what it seems like to me. I don’t think God works like that, I don’t believe He strikes someone with a deadly disease for stating their opinion, however inappropriately they do it. To say something like that, for a priest, can feel very threatening to your average Joe Catholic (like me!). I’m with Rhiannon, I’d rather stick to Jesus’ parables.