Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Truth Hurts

I find that one of the hardest parts of priestly ministry is the fact that I am often called upon to tell people difficult things.  These are not the sort of dramatic moments such as breaking the news that a loved one has died or the like, as one might expect.  That sort of news is easier in a way; it is concrete and there are specific things one does in reaction to such news.  Much harder than this is to speak the truth when doing so will likely cause a person great pain.  Unlike death, the pain to which I refer is vague; its source is unclear, its remedy unknown, and healing could take a lifetime.  Take, for instance, the young man who has convinced himself that he is happy, even though it appears that he has become engaged to a young woman only because he has been hurt once too often, and is afraid he won't find anyone else.  Take the bride-to-be who has decided to settle because the shame of her past convinces her that she deserves nothing better than her intended spouse.  As beneficial as these truths may be in the long run, it is dreadful seeing the false reality evaporate into thin air while cold hard reality settles in.  To tell someone that another is dead seems like it must be easier than to have done the actual killing.

Difficult though they may be, these moments occasion the opportunity for seeds of conversion to be planted in very rich soil.  As with any field, one needs to pull the weeds if the intended plant is to grow well.  So too with the soul.  When the lies one has created to protect oneself are revealed and uprooted, the soul suddenly finds itself ready to really believe in the love that God has for each of us, and to begin reciprocating that love.  One discovers that what had passed for love and happiness previously are fabrications or, at best, poor imitations.  Moreover, when the soul experiences that true love, its appetite for more becomes insatiable.  And then, I am glad I had the courage to tell the truth.

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