Goodness should not degenerate into weakness

Goodness should not degenerate into weakness. When one has scolded someone justly, it’s necessary to let it alone, without letting oneself soften to the point of self torment over having given pain, seeing someone suffer and weep. To run after the pained one in order to console her would be to do her more harm than good. Leaving her to herself is to force her to run to the good God in order to see her wrong and humble herself. To do otherwise, habituating her to receive consolation after a merited scolding, would be to make her always act thusly in similar circumstances, like a spoiled infant who dances about in a rage crying until its mother comes to dry its tears." St. Therese of Lisieux

Two things struck me about this quote (which is from “Mornings with Therese of Lisieux” by Patricia Treece, incidentally).

One is that this is not the way we think of St. Therese…that is, we forget that she was a novice mistress, and knew what it was to have the job of correcting others. It was not a part of that position that she enjoyed! Nevertheless, she is so long-suffering, it is good to remember that she also knew there came a time when handing out a scolding was part of her vocation of love.

The other thing is the reminder that a properly-given scolding ought not be expected to result in immediate repentance and amendment, let alone cheerful amendment. You have to be patient when correction is part of your vocation, ready for amendment to take awhile. You cannot intimidate or force someone into discipleship. Guidance is needed, there need to be consequences to teach the correct way, but the person also needs to come around of his or own free will. It is not necessarily any failure in the guide when a correction of course in the guided is not immediate, or even when the corrected initially runs off in exactly the wrong direction!

Just a thought for the parents and teachers out there. Hang in there. You can do your job like a saint would, and your charges still won’t immediately become angels! They certainly might not poll in favor of your canonization at the time! :wink: :smiley:

I personally think that parents are living saints.

EasterJoy -
I am glad you shared this, but for the sake of my husband, not my children. I don’t have nearly the trouble allowing my children to ‘sit and stew awhile’ after a needed scolding, but I do have a hard time saying my piece to my husband and then letting it be. I tend to want to beat the subject to death, in order to find common ground as quickly as possible. Yet on the occasions when I have said something to my husband and then left him to think about it on his own, we actually reconcile much more quickly, without the drama. It was a pattern that was not apparent to me until I read your post this morning. I don’t like being in a position of having to gently correct my husband, but I know that he appreciates how it helps his relationship with me and our children. I am sure he will appreciate even more if I always remember to give him the space and time to consider my words, rather than attempt to impose reconciliation upon him before he is ready. The same may become even more useful with my children as they get older.

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