CORRECTING WITH SWEETNESS
Fr Claret, even as a teenager, perceived the necessity of correcting with sweetness. In his father’s workshop he learned ‘everyone, even the rudest people, should be treated kindly and affably and that much more may be gained by kindness than by harshness and irritability’ (Aut 34). This would be constant in his ministry; ‘nothing of terror, softness in everything’ said Balmes, commenting on his style of preaching. Claret himself believed in the efficacy of this softness, which he illustrates with his famous comparison of cooking snails (cf. Aut 471). In his years as ecclesial administrator in Sallent he received many ‘slanders and insults’ against himself and his ageing father. He tried to ‘suffer them with patience, without complaining about them’. He denounced them justly, without ever losing his composure (cf. ECI pp 77 and 80).
Sometimes we lose our patience and our nerves lead us to verbal excesses. We also surprise ourselves by our tendency to air others’ defects, forgetting our own. From there we can fall into hypocrisy. How different is ‘fraternal’ correction, which is accompanied by affection, humility and delicacy so that our brother’s sensitivity is not wounded. Only this usually has a positive effect: in practising it we imitate Jesus, so we can speak ‘words of life’.
Are there environments in which my patience is seriously threatened? Are there people with whom I easily lose patience? Do I take just precautions?