Sunday, 25 January 2015

an endless fountain of odious disedification

In light of all the touchyness some seem to show at the faults and failings of others, here are some pertinent and pithy words from Fr FW Faber.  It is a quote from a book of his Spiritual Conferences and all I have done is change the word "scandal" to the word "offence", the sense remains the same.

To give offence is a great fault, but to take offence is a greater fault.  It implies a greater amount of wrongness in ourselves, and it does a greater amount of mischief to others.
For I find great numbers of moderately good people who think it fine to take offence.  They regard it as a sort of evidence of their own goodness, and their delicacy of conscience; while in reality it is only proof either of their inordinate conceit or their extreme stupidity..... Moreover the persons in question seem frequently to feel and act, as if their profession of piety involved some kind of appointment to take offence.  It is their business to take offence.  It is their way of bearing witness to God.  It would show a blameable intertness in the spiritual life, if they did not take offence.  They think they suffer very much while they are taking offence; whereas in truth they enjoy it amazingly.  It is a pleasurable excitement, which delightfully varies the monotony of devotion.
For one pious man, who makes piety  attractive, there are nine who make it repulsive.  Or in other words, only one out of ten among reputed spiritual  persons is really spiritual.  He who, during a long life has taken the most offence, has done the most injury to God's glory, and has been himself a real and substantial stumbling block in the way of many.  He has been an endless fountain of odious disedification to the little ones of Christ.  If such a one as reads this, he will take offence at me.  Everything that he dislikes, everything which deviates from his own narrow view of things is to him an offence. Men marvellously like to be popes; and the dullest of men, if only he has, as usual, an obstinacy proportioned to his dulness, can in most neighbourhoods carve out a tiny papacy for himself; and if to his dulness he can add pomposity, he may reign gloriously, a little ecumenical council in unintermitting session, through all the four seasons of the year. .... Let us leave them alone with their glory and their happiness.

Ahhh, spoken like a true Oratorian, a true son of "Gentleness and Kindness". Charity sometimes has to talk tough.  Taking offence is a fault deep within many of us and are we really willing to look in the mirror and see just how odious it is?  Faber ends this conference with the following:

He is happy who on his dying bed can say, No one has ever given me offence in my life!  He has either not seen his neighbour's faults, or when he saw them, the sight had to reach him through so much sunshine of his own, that they did not strike him so much as faults to blame, but rather as reasons for a deeper and tenderer love.


And Richard agrees!


Irim said...

Excellent post. For something like hate speech - e.g., if someone is spewing racist epithets at another - it is one's duty not to be offended, but to speak up and protect the person being attacked. Being offended often becomes a way of putting G-d in a box and shutting out the work of the Holy Spirit.

I was curious about the full unfolding of Faber's thinking on this, so I googled it. Fortunately, someone had the wonderful sense to post it here: - absolutely superb. xx

Rita said...

Glad you like

Robert said...

Rita-this is good. It reminds me of the people of Jesus' hometown, who "took offence at him." It seems the scribes and pharisees were often in this same camp. Thank you for posting this. It is definitely something worthy to keep in mind when examining my conscience! Robert