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Fraternal Correction

  • 06 September 2020 |
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Letters from a Pastor to His People- September 6, 2020

Dear Parishioners,

In the priesthood there is an idea known as "fraternal correction."  In fact, I remember in seminary having an evening of formation dedicated to this topic, so important a subject it was.  Fraternal correction is delicately approaching a brother priest to help him deal with something that might be an issue in his life.  It could be something as simple as letting him know he has bad breath to calling him out on a serious vice.

The point of fraternal correction isn't to make the other person feel bad about himself or to be unkind and lash out with your frustrations upon him.  The point is to help the brother be a holier individual, a better priest; to assist Christ shining forth in the face of the individual. 

Saint John Vianney often received correction from his brothers.  In fact, he wrote one time, "Today I had two letters...In one I am told that I am a saint, in the other that I am nothing more than a quack. The first letter gave me nothing, the second took nothing from me."  Vianney was detached from his self-image and did not allow correction to make him sad or angry, but only to turn more fervently to Jesus.

 I often think about the very last canon in the Code of Canon Law.  It reads, "In cases of transfer the prescripts of can. 1747 are to be applied, canonical equity is to be observed, and the salvation of souls, which must always be the supreme law in the Church, is to be kept before one’s eyes."

The salvation of souls is always the point, especially when it comes to correction.  In the first reading Ezekiel says we are responsible for another person's soul.  If we do not help the individual correct an error, we will be as much subject to punishment at the end of our lives as the individual.  Then in the Gospel Jesus gives us proper instruction on how to deal with a brother who "sins against you." 

Priests aren't the only ones called to do fraternal correction, but spouses with each other, parents with children, children with parents, neighbors, coworkers, and so forth. Before we ever give fraternal correction, we should always pray, asking God to give us wisdom and love, and for him to speak through us.  As awkward or painful as the conversation might be, we can be assured that God is in the midst of us and that salvation has come to us.

A reminder that because of Labor Day there will be no Monday Evening of Prayer this week.  We will resume Adoration next week.  On Labor Day we will still have Mass in church at 8:30am. 

Now that summer is over and school is started, I would like to get us back in the habit of reading.  That is, I would like to try to resume the Saint Juliana Parish Book Club that we launched earlier in the year.  We never had a chance to meet to discuss two of our books: The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene and A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman.  I'm thinking of either trying to meet in person or do a Zoom session or a combination of the two.  If you are interested in being part of the discussion, could you please email me, along with your preference for in-person or Zoom?  Our next book will be A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce.  Date to discuss TBD. 

Next Sunday, September 13th, is the 2020 Good Friday Collection for Christians in the Holy Land.  This was supposed to happen this past spring, but obviously was postponed because of Covid.  Please mark a special envelop with your donation as "Holy Land Collection."

Happy Labor Day.  Enjoy your day off from work/school.


Yours in Christ,

Fr. James

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