Sunday, September 13, 2015

My Heart vs. Ours: Rancor vs. Reconciliation

"All this must be expressly eradicated before the face of Christ: nothing less than our immersion in the stream of His inconceivable, all-conquering love will restore our inward peace." [(Kindle Locations 4214-4215). von Hildebrand, Dietrich (2011-02-04). Transformation In Christ. Ignatius Press. Kindle Edition.]

One of the things I like about Dietrich von Hildebrand is the way he clarifies by making distinctions. He would merit the praise of my first boss in Vienna, Archbishop Michele Cecchini, who had said his best or highest of another when he said, "That man has clear and distinct ideas". Sadly, that kind of praise comes but rarely as muddle-headedness seems to have the upper hand in our world.

Even among thoughtful folk, it is rare to find those capable of identifying that rancor, which paralyzes (takes away freedom of action) and poisons one's self, it being a matter of the heart of the person who feels offended. Rancor impedes perhaps only from one side reconciliation between people estranged, which must perforce be ruled by justice and adherence to the truth. Sadly, all too often, one man's rancor, his poisoned heart, will and eye, blocks and banishes the other; it deprives that other of any possible approach or first step toward reconciliation. It does so from the depths of the rancorous one's loins or heart, while spouting platitudes about the preconditions for true reconciliation.

Why are certain hearts consumed by rancor? Is it not true that rancor is the downfall of not only the person so afflicted, but also of all upon whom that poisoned glance or rebuff may fall? How do you heal a heart prone to rancor? As I think about it, I am wondering if it wasn't wrong in the past, before the great changes in psychiatric law enforcement, to be repeatedly admitting to mental health facilities people consumed by anger and bitterness,  like a very rancorous woman I met as a young priest. The venom which spewed forth from her might have more readily found its antidote in a genuine and transforming encounter with the loving Christ instead of with sedatives and lock-down. How do you distinguish between the bipolar and a rancorous heart?

You'll have to excuse me for getting off on this topic because it is the first time it has dawned on me that perhaps the failure not only of certain people as individuals, but also of groups or societies to reconcile with others or be big, if you will, about making the first advance toward the other who actually may bear the greater burden of guilt, may rather involve the rancorous heart of one or the other party, but also of a people, with some of its most outspoken leaders. It is a hard case to argue. I remember when we were small, my mother would challenge a little sister of mine in the midst of a rage, shrieking, puffy-eyed and tears: "Go look at yourself in the mirror". It often worked and shamed someone who was overtired and being unreasonable to calm herself.

So! This Sunday a thank you to von Hildebrand and a prayer that not so much the hearts of the guilty, but first and foremost the hearts of the rancorous might change for the sake of the life of the world. May we be bearers of Christ's light, disarming our adversaries with His all-conquering love!


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