We offer assistance to one another as we journey together to God
“In your walking, standing, and every movement, let nothing occur to give offense to anyone who sees you, but only what becomes your holy state of life.” (The Rule IV, 21)
We all struggle with something. Bad habits such as gossip, lying, or sloth; selfishness; pride; addictions; difficult relationships; apathy; materialism. These can threaten the unity, stewardship, care and respect, prayer life, and moderation that are critical to a unified and harmonious community.
Augustinian Friars, like all other human beings, face difficulties in living the Christian and Augustinian ideals. Yet, as Augustine discovered in his own wanderings, God never abandons us, but always summons us towards the high good. God often does this through the people in our lives who care enough about us and the community to which we belong to speak truthfully to us when we are in danger of falling into the trap of sin. In the Augustinian Way of Life we call this fraternal correction, where a brother corrects another brother before a particular issue gets out of hand and begins to impact the community.
However, such fraternal correction or admonishment must always be done in a way that manifests the tender mercy and forgiveness of God, and Saint Augustine goes into great detail on how he sees such issues being handled with tenderness and care. For example, while Augustine urges correction/admonishment to happen as promptly as possible, he also urges that it be done as privately as possible, first between the brother who observes the behavior and then only if the issue persists should it be brought to the superior, but even then still in private (The Rule IV, 26-27) in order to give the person the benefit of the doubt and the opportunity to correct their ways with the least amount of public shame and attention.
Similarly, Augustine encourages prompt apologies for offenses committed within community and those who are offended must forgive. (The Rule VI, 42).
This same principle can carry over to all walks of life. Whether it is a situation faced within a family, the workplace, or between two friends, God often works through others to help us continue to grow in truth, unity, and love.
Suggested Next Topic
Principle #7: Humility
Reflection written by Jeremy Hiers, O.S.A.
Learn more about Augustinian Spirituality and the Augustinian Way of Life.
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