From time to time, readers of our humble publication, The Little Troubadour, write in for advice of the friars. Their questions or troubles often concern things that affect us all. Over the past year I have dedicated some space in our magazine to answer these questions. I thought it might be helpful to share them here as well.
Heather from Queensland wrote in with the following question:
Dear Br Louis,
Many people get on my nerves and I just can’t stand them. How do I overcome these feelings? I want to be a good Christian, but I can’t forget what people have done to me and I find it difficult to be nice to them. What can I do?
Join the club! Every human being feels the way you do some time or later. We are all sinners and have been sinned against by others. Surely we have all wronged someone in our lives and we seek their forgiveness as we are called to forgive others who have wronged us. We inherit the consequences of original sin, including a disorder of our feelings. If we have to live or work with people we find disagreeable, these feelings can be a daily cross. Yes, these feelings can weigh you down, but as children of God, Our Lord has taught us that we must forgive and love our neighbour.
Remember the saying of St. Maximilian Kolbe: “Love alone conquers!” It is not always easy to do this, but remember, Christ gives us the graces we need through the sacraments, especially in Confession and the Holy Eucharist, to rise above our feelings and to forgive others. We also have the gifts of the Holy Spirit in Confirmation to assist us, if only we ask the Holy Spirit to help us. One should be honest about one’s feelings in the examination of one’s conscience, (a recommended daily practice). We are called by God not to let feelings or emotions to control the exercise of our will. God calls us to overcome our feelings with His Grace. Our Lord said we are to love, but that doesn’t mean we have to like everybody. We are called to treat all people who come our way in charity and not be vengeful and nasty. We are to do unto others as we would want them to treat us – to act with kindness and courtesy towards all, especially those we ‘cannot stand’, remembering all persons are created in the image of God. We don’t have to be friends to all, but we are called to be Christ-like to all. Yes it is not easy, but Our Lord calls us to try and try again each day, every moment.
There is a saying: “The grace of God is in courtesy.” Now, if people are nasty towards us, we don’t have to be their ‘doormats’. If we can avoid the situation, then we can rightly keep away from them. But if interaction is unavoidable, we should remember to be courteous. Ask your guardian angel to help you deal with these people in a Christ-like way.
To forgive doesn’t mean that we excuse what evil has been done to us. Instead, we ask God in prayer to help them repent of their wrongdoing and to help us to love them as a child of God. We do not seek to repay them with evil by treating them in a hateful way. Our Lord Jesus Christ calls us to treat our enemies with mercy, not hatefully, remembering that in eternity God’s justice will be fulfilled, but on earth we called to be merciful as our Heavenly Father is merciful to us. In the words our Saviour gave us we pray, “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Hate and bitterness poison the heart and cause misery and despair. Instead, trust in the Divine Mercy of Christ and ask Our Lady to help you to be charitable to the disagreeable and forgiving in Christ’s name.
God love you,