New beginnings

A message from Vice President Fr Anthony Casamento csma: Consider a number that, in our hostile and broken world, may make a difference that really counts.

One of my secret pleasures at this time of year is the opportunity to catch up on summer reading. This year was no different. One of the books I reacquainted myself with following the death of Pope Benedict XVI, who was instrumental in its publication, was the Catechism of the Catholic Church (OK – I have a secret nerd side!). I had forgotten how insightful its contents are.

The section that caught my attention was n2478. For me, it holds the key to making this new year a time of new beginnings – and, I think, a new way of looking at life. To save you the trouble of looking it up, I’ll make it easy for you.

“To avoid rash judgment, everyone should be careful to interpret insofar as possible their neighbour’s thoughts, words and deeds in a favourable way. Every good Christian ought to be more ready to give a favourable interpretation of another’s statement than to condemn it. But if they cannot do so, let them ask how the other understands it. And if the latter understands it badly, let the former correct them with love.” (CCC, No. 2478)

I’m going to go out on a limb here, but I think this is one of the most important, and most overlooked, passages in the Catechism. It reminds us that one of the most vital aspects of the Christian life is, quite simply, to act like Christians. To be decent. To be fair. To “avoid rash judgment”. To treat one another with dignity and charity, and when we disagree, “correct … with love.”

Still thinking of a resolution for this year that will really matter? Resolve to think more positively of others. This year, maybe we need to extend the effort to look at others as equals, not rivals; to see people of possibility, not problems; to think of our time together as a period of engagement, not enragement.

I’m resolved to give it my best shot. I have a Post-it Note above my desk in my monastery with 2478 scrawled on it. Every now and then, I dip into the Catechism and remind myself there are other ways of looking at The Other – and it is, I think, one way of healing a wounded world. It is a way of compassion. A way that seeks to understand. A way of love. Frankly, I think, it is the way of Jesus.

Try it. This year, skip new year resolutions about going to the gym, eating fewer sweets and so on, and perhaps consider every morning n2478 – a number that, in our hostile and broken world, may make a difference that really counts.

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