“…a smile is often the best mortification.” (St. Josemaría Escrivá)
“The appropriate word you left unsaid; the joke you didn’t tell; the cheerful smile for those who bother you; that silence when you’re unjustly accused; your kind conversation with people you find boring and tactless; the daily effort to overlook one irritating detail or another in those who live with you…this, with perseverance, is indeed solid interior mortification.” (St. Josemaría Escrivá)
This is exactly what God does for us. He punishes us and then comes to be with us in our punishment.
At our Witnesses to Hope meeting this week, Sr. Dorcee spoke about the importance of seeing goodness and beauty in the other and gives tips about how to do that. If you would like to see or hear the talk, you can go here. A number of people asked her for this quote, so here it is:
To see that someone is good and to say so is a creative act–one of the great creative acts. There may be some few individuals who are inescapably evil, but they are few. Within almost all of us is something positive and unique, but which is all too easily injured, and which only grows when exposed to the sunlight of someone else’s recognition and praise. To see the good in others and let them see themselves in the mirror of our regard is to help someone grow to become the best they can be. ‘Greater,’ says the Talmud, ‘is one who causes others to do good than one who does good himself.’ To help others become what they can be is to give birth to creativity in someone else’s soul. This is done not by criticism or negativity but by searching out the good in others, and helping them to see it, recognize it, own it, and live it.
‘And God saw that it was good’–this too is part of the work of creation, the subtlest and most beautiful of all. When we recognize the goodness in someone, we do more than create it, we help it to become creative. This is what God does for us, and what He calls us to do for others. (Rabbi Jonathan Sacks)
This is a story of hope for each one of us.
Armando is an amazing eight-year-old boy . . . .
Armando cannot walk or talk and is very small for his age. He came to us from an orphanage where he had been abandoned. He no longer wanted to eat because he no longer wanted to live cast off from his mother. He was desperately thin and was dying of lack of food. After a while in our community where he found people who held him, loved him, and wanted him to live, he gradually began to eat again and to develop in a remarkable way. He still cannot walk or talk or eat by himself, his body is twisted and broken, and he has a severe mental disability, but when you pick him up, his eyes and his whole body quiver with joy and excitement and say: “I love you.” He has a deep therapeutic influence on people. . . .
What [many people] do not always know is that they have a well deep inside of them. If that well is tapped, springs of life and of tenderness flow forth. It has to be revealed to each person that these waters are there and that they can rise up from each one of us and flow over people, giving them life and a new hope.
That is the power of Armando. In some mysterious way, in all his brokenness, he reveals to us our own brokenness, our difficulties in loving, our barriers and hardness of heart. If he is so broken and so hurt and yet is still such a source of life, then I too am allowed to look at my own brokenness, and to trust that I too can give life to others. I do not have to pretend that I am better than others and that I have to win in all the competitions. It’s O.K. to be myself, just as I am, in my uniqueness. That, of course, is a very healing and liberating experience. I am allowed to be myself, with all my psychological and physical wounds, with all my limitations but with all my gifts too. And I can trust that I am loved just as I am, and that I too can love and grow.
Very apt advice always:
“When your enemy falls into your hands, do not consider how you can pay him back and let him feel the sharp edge of your tongue before sending him packing; consider rather how you can heal him and restore him to a better frame of mind. Continue to make every effort both by word and deed until your gentleness has overcome his aggressiveness. Nothing has more power than gentleness. As someone has said: A soft word will break bones. And what is harder than bone? Well then, even if someone is as hard and inflexible as that, he will be conquered if you treat him gently. There is another saying: A soft answer turns away wrath. It is obvious, therefore, that whether your enemy continues to rage or whether he is reconciled depends much more on you than on him. For it rests with us, not with those who are angry, either to destroy their anger or enflame it.” (John Chrysostom)