Where do you draw the line between fraternal correction and Pharisee?

I’m sooo trying to purify myself this Lent for Easter!

Okay…we’re called to fraternal correction, when we see evil being done, the Bible tells us it is our responsibility to speak up, to not remain silent. At the same time, we have to use prudence, not to throw our pearls to the swine, etc. Jesus even said his disciples were to shake the dust off their feet of the towns that rejected his message.

Long story short, I’m one of the most “practicing” Catholics among my friends and family. Sometimes it’s a very delicate balancing act to witness about Jesus (most of you here can understand what I’m saying), without turning people off. And yet, I have family members engaged in serious sin for years on end…

I’m also very ashamed of this, but pride and judgmentalism are a real and present danger for me. I’ve come to realize that a lot of being judgmental comes from a very subconscious level, and you can judge people without being fully conscious of it! (Actually, that’s the danger of all the “thought sins”–they aren’t always fully under our control, but that doesn’t lessen their destructiveness)

Insights? Advice?

I think at least one of two things are required in order to admonish the sinner. 1. Inspiration or 2. Authority. As long as your intentions are good, and you do it with love you’re far from a acting like a pharisee. And at all times pray for them, and if you can do it before the Blessed Sacrament as much as possible! Today’s Gospel was “ask, and it will be given to you.” I’ll keep them in my prayers as well.

God Bless

Going off of your thread title (mostly):

Imagine a real pharisee becoming a disciple during Christ’s earthly mission.

Who would listen to the pharisee?

Only those who are, moved, to hear, “I have experienced this, and I was wrong because…”

The pharisee would have to be humble enough to recount why. I believe you can (because I have, too).

No one who has a true conversion of heart is a hypocrite. The defining moment for the former pharisee comes in stages:

Developing empathy

Learning to relate lesions learned without lecturing

Leading by example.

Ok, if the one correcting is a two-faced hypocrite, it is not fraternal correction. If the one correcting is voicing with his mouth what he firmly believes in his heart, it is fraternal correction.

For instance: if I like to dwell on impure content but I admonish a brother, I am a hypocrite. If I struggle with impurity but in my heart I am aware of God’s will and strive for chastity, my correction is fraternal.

It doesn’t stop there. A Pharisaical approach would involve sticking to the bare rules. For instance: did I confess and not eat 1 hour before Mass? Then I can surely receive Communion. Wrong. One should be properly disposed. It takes introspection. The approach, to be more clear, asks “how far is too far”. Fraternal correction in Christ never asks such an imprudent question.

Now to your case: it is not easy when it comes to a spouse, a family member, a relative, a friend. In that order. With a spouse, you are tasked with his or her salvation. With family members (especially if you live with them!) God placed you there for a reason. With relatives, same thing: God placed you in a blood relationship with them for a reason. With friends, the bond is spiritual and not casual, but a friendship, if harmful, can and must be severed.

In general, we ought to love unconditionally as Christ loves. But love for sinners is not love for sin. Tolerance of sinner is not tolerance for sin. Sometimes you must take steps make it clear that a given behavior/action/state of life is sinful. You must not join events/actions that are against faith and morals, no matter how close is the one doing them. But your biggest challenge is to be a witness of Christ. Nobody is a prophet at home. Christ’s relatives considered He was insane. Don’t expect to be able to evangelize your family. Do however strive to be a Christian who follows the fullness of the Catholic Faith, in its orthodoxy and apostolicity. Be simple and joyful. Be confident in what you do.

So you fast on Friday and at home they cooked an awesome meat dish? Smile, compliment the cook, and remind them you promised Christ not to eat meat on Friday. Don’t be all serious and grievous, like: oh, I’m doing penance, because it’s Lent, a time of mortification, and good Christians don’t eat meat to be holy, etc…just be natural. Act as Christ would act :wink:

But if anything,

  • remember 1 Corinthians 13 and live it daily
  • and never, ever compromise…remember the countless saints who endured martyrdom rather than denying even the smallest precept of the faith
  • you are, like it or not, chosen. Not chosen to be greater, but to be smaller. To be the servant of your brothers. Chosen to offer sacrifice. To become sacrifice. To forgive, love, and pray for those who persecute you. To gain for others the grace of conversion and of final perseverance. It is said that Christ does not refuse this grace when we ask for it. Ask for it, for your loved ones in particular. Christ once transformed water (fallen humanity) into wine (supernatural divinity) even if “his time had not yet come”. He will do it again. Ask, particularly through His mother’s intercession. For it is written: “Speak mother, I shall not refuse you”.

I am assuming the the serious sin of family and friends is probably in the sexual area? The Bible say that a prophet is not welcomed in their own home. I kinda think that if your family/friends know that you go the church and are trying to practice your faith to the best of your ability, they probably know what you feel and what the Churches teach. In general, the better thing to do for family that are “living in sin” is to pray for them as opposed to trying to tell them that they are in sin. Since I am sure they know you and your faults, trying to Preach or correct them will just backfire. The better thing for you is to try and pray for them in either a holy hour or adoration during lent, that they turn away from sin and come back to the faith.

I agree with this; they probably know your views as a Catholic and prayer is the best bet.

Maybe think about St Paul when he was Saul. As Saul he was probably upsetting a lot of people but not really behaving illegally and had the approval of many and even in his conscience possibly believed he was doing the right thing (or nothing really bad anyway).

Then God converted him. Was it Saul’s doing or was it God’s. It was God’s alone. St Paul was quite different to Saul - he acted very differently and with different beliefs - but all the credit goes to God for this. Only God can give faith, and I believe He gives us faith, so we can pray for those who don’t have it.

St Paul however, did also upset a lot of people via his behaviour, even though he also had a lot of approval and following from many, and in his conscience he believed he was doing the right thing most of the time. (although not always as per his letters etc.).

So, in truth we’re not all in the same boat and we’re not all given the same talents or abilities and we have to do the best with what we’ve been personally given. If you have been given faith and you know the Truth, then it is your duty to bear witness to that, especially to those God has entrusted to you in this life - even if it is not received well (or apparently not received well). This of course, is the ongoing battle of many parents today.

When fraternally correcting someone you must be as gentle as possible, and always charitable – your reason for correcting somebody is because you love them and want them to get to heaven, right? You must not be belittling, condescending or condemning, or think that you are better than the person because you haven’t fallen into the same particular sin (“There go you but by the grace of God.”) – to do so would be pharisaical, no? God bless you.

The fraternal correction in Scripture has to do within a community of believers, not toward non-believers, even when they’re family.

To correct a non-believer merely serves to harden his heart against what you’re saying, especially where they have knowledge of your lacking in holiness.

Also, they don’t accept you as an authority on your religion.

Better to live by example, than correction.

Also, always be charitable towards non-believers, for they are living in poverty.

What you have been given is not from yourself, but from God and so you should be open to sharing your gift as it was given to you, despite being a sinner.

Pray for them, most and foremost.


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