Fraternal Correction Homily


A recent homily I heard from a priest was about brotherly correction. How we like to think our sins are private or people don’t want others in their business. We should correct our of love, compassion NOT out of pride, arrogance or selfishness. Charitable correction.

Calling out other people’s sin is a difficult task. How do I know if I’m simply calling out a person’s sin to shame, humiliate or make myself feel better? What about timing or when is it our place to say something or NOT SAY SOMETHING? It always important to respect a person’s privacy and speak the truth while respecting the dignity of the person. I don’t think that should be used an excuse to be a meddler or a busybody.

As a recipient of correction, how can I humbly accept the bitter truth regardless of the delivery? The truth is the truth. Sure, it would be nice if people said things are the right timing or in a more pleasant tone.

I know I can get defensive. There are certain aspects of my personal life that I would like to be off-limits and I imagine should be off-limits.

Like someone having an affair, an abortion, filing for a divorce, etc.

Which is worse offending a brother now to lead him to the straight and narrow path? I know in the homily the Father found a biblical quote on how we are responsible for instructing the ignorant and admonishing sinners and to do so privately but if they don’t listen bring others.

I appreciate your honest reply and God bless.


Hmm…I’m more of a passive person. I used to think it was better to never confront people about offenses committed against me. Being myself, I will eventually explode. My mother and my younger sister sound similar to you. They rarely feel personally insulted or put too much stock in what others say. At times, I wish my mother would stand for herself more or didn’t abandon her opinion or ideas just to avoid conflict. I understand creating enmity is wrong. I don’t think all arguments are wrong, unlike my mother. I know she encouraged me to wash out the dishes of my roommate because she left them there and began smelling. That is a little too submissive for my taste. I’m no one’s slave. I guess to her, such things are petty and NO BIG DEAL.

I wish I knew the perfect boundary of when to let things slide and when to confront. I deserve to be respected as well. I need to learn to be more assertive and stand up for myself. Some people see that as evidence of pride. Living my life as a doormat has created more resentment. People shouldn’t feel free say whatever to me. Sounds like pride? After all, Jesus Christ endured insults.
I’m slightly tired of dealing with domineering, bullying personalities who I have had fear standing up to. It ain’t healthy for me. Maybe for someone else such people wouldn’t get under their skin. I don’t think so, honestly. Toxic folks aren’t healthy for anyone, neither is holding onto anger, remembering an offense or taking things much too personally.
I cannot easily ignore an insult. Pray for me. Sorry, I can’t. I don’t think people should feel free to call you a b-word, n-word, etc. even if you were in the wrong. No no no. You must teach folks to respect you.

How this relates to my first person? I don’t know. These are thoughts I wrestle with.


Fr. Wade Menezes, a learned priest, said we should fraternally correct to each person rarely, mindful of humility, and with love.

Fr. Regis Scanlon, from Denver, seen on EWTN years ago, said we should fraternally correct when we have authority over the person. If they are a peer, we should do so mindful that the context of the conversation leads your conscience to believe that they would listen.

Finally, I would like to present the Catechism, “In accord with the knowledge, competence, and preeminence which they possess, [lay people] have the right and even at times a duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church, and they have a right to make their opinion known to the other Christian faithful, with due regard to the integrity of faith and morals and reverence toward their pastors, and with consideration for the common good and the dignity of persons.” (CCC 907)


I actually just read an article on how friendship nowadays don’t include moral commitment. Friendship are about usefulness and fun not about upholding values. The example cited was how a teenage boy lied for his shoplifting friend and didn’t show disapproval for his ways.


Yeah, but that was a teenager - we’re all notorious for peer-oriented thinking at that age!

As an adult, we can choose to find and foster friendships with people who will engage in mutual accountability. They’re rare, but they’re the only kind of relationships I use the words “friend” for.


Fair enough. I’m certain some adults carry a similar attitude


Oh, I’m sure many adults do, perhaps even most. But we as individuals we can choose not to! :slight_smile:


Each of us has a cross to carry.


I’m sorry I wasn’t clear. It is possible to be insulted without ignoring it, AND without allowing it to eat away at us. I provided you with an example. We can choose to use our free will to feel insulted and to allow it to eat away at us, but that’s a self-inflicted wound and not anyone else’s “fault.”


I respectfully disagree to an extent. If someone called me the b word or even worse the n word, it is my fault for getting offended. I would feel offended, but I will agree that I should not dwell on it. Words do indeed leave an impact. I should learn to easily ignore more insults, but to blame me for feeling my “pain” to me is slightly warped.


Perhaps reading and studying “Interior Castle” will bring peace to you.

And also know kind assertiveness can be a virtue.


I think I need healthier examples of meekness. Some people think there are no extremes in meekness. I do not agree that it is our free will that makes us take offense. Sometimes I think what we labeled as sin are simply natural reactions. Like I said, if someone were to call me the n-word, supposedly now I’m self-inflicting a wound on myself for taking offense, AS IF it is NOT OFFENSIVE to call a person with black/African ancestry a racial slur. This is the reason I avoid CAF websites. I don’t always subscribe to people’s ideas of holiness.


I heard a similar homily on that scripture theme. Here is my honest thought on the matter.

I think “fraternal correction” of the type described made some sense in the early Church. The Church communities were close-knit; people knew each other well and relied on each other for spiritual support and other forms of support; and there might not always be a priest or a decisive authority figure around. One early Christian acting badly could reflect poorly on the others, and the teachings everyone was trying to follow were new and undoubtedly mistakes were made that needed correction before the whole community got off down a wrong path.

Fast forward to today. Most people in parishes do not know each other well, with some exceptions. Many people are transient, and many people wish to protect their personal privacy. Although we may have a priest shortage going on now, there are generally priests or spiritual directors available if someone wants to talk over an issue, and the Church has become much more established.

if someone is your family member or close friend, then it makes sense to offer a friendly correction, although you know it might not be well received and you run the risk of alienating the person. At least if you’re close to the person, you probably know the basic facts of their situation, how they got in it, etc.

If, on the other hand, the person is a more distant friend or just an acquaintance, you likely don’t know all the facts of a situation, so any “correction” other than maybe suggesting they talk to a priest or go to confession is presumptuous and reinforces the stereotype of Church people as busybodies.

With respect to my own experiences, if someone who isn’t my close family member, close intimate friend, or priest (usually in the confessional) decided to suddenly hand out an unsolicited “correction”, I would drop them like a hot rock. Already did it once to somebody who overstepped her bounds by lecturing me about my marriage when she had met my husband all of once for a few minutes at our wedding and I had never discussed my marriage with her as she was not a close friend and our lives had gone in vastly different directions. By contrast, my mother when she was alive often felt a need to lecture me about my marriage, and while I didn’t like it coming from her either, she was my mother, knew both of us well, saw us together enough times and was entitled on all those bases to offer her opinion, even if I didn’t receive it in good grace.


It is not always easy being on the receiving end of criticism. I wish I could receive it more humbly and of course with grace. Certain things like marriage feel too intimate to be open about.


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