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Father Alvaro Corcuera, LC: «Charity in Speech is an Apostolate»
INTERNATIONAL | WHO WE ARE | SPIRITUALITY
Letter to all members and friends of the Regnum Christi Movement. July 19, 2007.

«Tenemos que duplicar el número.»
Father Alvaro Corcuera, LC

Authorized translation of the Spanish original "La benedicencia".

In order to read or download this letter in pdf-format click, here.

****

Thy Kingdom come!

Rome, July 19, 2007

To the members and friends
of the Regnum Christi Movement

My dear friends in Christ,

It is my great pleasure to write you at this time when God is asking us to serve the Church with all we are, and I want to start by thanking you for your prayers, your letters and the witness of your lives full of the Gospel spirit.

Within a week we will have the International Youth and Family Encounter in Atlanta, whose motto this year is, “Love one another as I have loved you.” God willing, I will have the pleasure of meeting many of you there. Naturally, not everyone will have the possibility of participating in the event, so I would like to offer you some thoughts regarding the theme of the encounter, which is charity.

The commandment of love is what sets Christ’s followers apart. Man is created in the image and likeness of God. Christ is the image of the Father. And we are to be living images of Christ. If God is love, then our life must be love. What a beautiful task our Lord entrusts to us, to make God present and real among our brothers and sisters! Not a distant God of duty for duty’s sake, of fear, but God who not only loves us but defines himself as Love.

When we take Mary’s example and ponder and reflect in our hearts on God’s action in the history of the Legion and Regnum Christi, we realize with renewed gratitude that love was the core of their foundational inspiration. From the very first years our Father Founder drove home to us the importance of this virtue for every Christian. “Charity is the essence of Christianity, charity is the badge of the Christian. Therefore, you must never forget that the mission Christ has entrusted to us obliges us with the urgent and intrinsic need to live extensively ourselves and to bring all men to live the spirit of charity” (March 8, 1948). Indeed, we know well that there is no true holiness without charity, charity makes all things possible, and without it our Christian life loses its worth. Charity has no limits and, as we see in so many men and women who give
Servir a nuestros hermanos más necesitados, siguiendo el mandato de caridad predicado por Cristo.
«Charity is the essence of Christianity, charity is the badge of the Christian.»
their lives for the Gospel, it can even lead to martyrdom, if this is what God asks of us. It means giving your life out of love.

And in the times we are living, it is necessary for us to grow each day in our practice of charity. In his hymn to charity, Saint Paul reminds us that charity is patient and kind, it is not arrogant, it never ends (see 1 Cor 13:4-8), and this makes it greater and more authentic, for every day provides us with many opportunities to live this commandment, which should be our hallmark. Charity’s own dynamism also requires that it be passed on through example, since this virtue is the forfeiture and gift of our life to our neighbor: “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13). Our words would be empty if we didn’t give ourselves in practice: “How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help? Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action” (1 John 3:17-18).

We know that charity is many-faceted and has a wide range of nuances. It is enough to stop and look at the witness of so many authentic Christians around us to discover and marvel at the varied and creative forms this virtue can take on. When you seek the good of your neighbor, your charity is full of initiative, detail and ingenuity. It does so in all simplicity. It doesn’t try to trumpet the good it does, it simply does it, trying to mirror Christ’s love for mankind. It pays attention to the smallest details, it is even careful lest a certain joke or a remark might offend or hurt the other person. It knows the other person in depth, not to judge him but rather to become more able to do him as much good as possible, and avoid whatever might hurt him.

Yet, among the many manifestations of charity there is one that is required of a member of Regnum Christi in a special way, and which I want to spend a little more time on now. It is the virtue of charity in speech.

How we need to look after this virtue! It must identify us, no matter where we are. What does charity in
Transmitir a Cristo, su mensaje, su bondad. Es el ideal que los más jóvenes comparten durante las misiones de evangelización.
«Charity has no limits, as we see in so many men and women who give their lives for the Gospel.»
speech consist in? It is practically an unknown term in our world. The Spanish term our Founder coined “benedicencia” doesn’t even figure in the dictionary, while the contrary sin, “maledicencia,” which means slander, does. If slander is the vice of speaking ill of others, charity in speech means speaking well of our neighbor. For us, charity in speech is an apostolate. Overcome evil with good. Charity in speech is a form of apostolate we can all engage in. It is a concrete way to go through this world “doing good,” like our Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 10:38), a way to build and serve the Church.

Slander is a vice that gravely offends charity, spreading as it does others’ shortcomings, errors or sins without cause or real need, thus tarnishing their reputation. No one has the right to hurt another’s good name. Charity in speech on the other hand seeks to spread only their good points.

Charity in speech is also contrary to rash judgment, which accepts as true a moral flaw in another without sufficient reason to do so. Rash judgments make us distrust and distance ourselves from our neighbor. This is the sad reality of those who pigeon-hole or label people, reading into their acts and interpreting their intentions negatively. It sows doubt, it is silent as regards a brother’s good name, it begets worry and malaise, it robs us of peace. We often judge our neighbor, attributing to him our own shortcomings. However, a kind heart tries to think well of others, justify, forgive and understand them. A man of God keeps in mind his own flaws, not in order to judge his neighbor but to live humbly and be an apostle of what is good. Who are we to judge our neighbor? God alone is judge. And, we well know, this brings peace to our souls. What a great gift is peace! “Seek peace, and pursue it” (Psalms 34:15). Well then, a very good means to attain this gift that God gives us, peace, is by actively focusing on all that is good, in both our thoughts and words.

When we are vested in authority and have responsibility over the actions of others, we ought always to act in the service and pursuit of the good, being realistic as regards evil – not to judge it but rather, as a doctor, to heal and cure it, even if the remedy is painful. All we seek is the good of our neighbor, as Jesus teaches us in the Parable of the Good Samaritan which we meditated on last Sunday: We bend over our wounded or fallen brother, gently to bandage him, lift him onto our lives, and make sure he is well attended to and cared for with no regard for what it might cost us, and not dwelling on our own need for help too.

Thirdly, charity in speech is opposed to calumny, which our faith teaches is a very grave sin that unjustly attributes to our neighbor and spreads falsehoods that damage his good name. Calumny includes defamation and lies, and so I believe it is one of the sins that most pains the heart of Christ.

Just as is the case with the other virtues, charity in speech is not to be lived on the defensive, trying merely not to fail, not to criticize; it is a question rather of fostering a resolutely positive, internal attitude, a habitual good disposition that will impel us to practice this virtue. Therefore, we cannot be content with not speaking about our neighbors’ flaws and errors. In itself, this is already a very good thing, for, as James the Apostle said, “Anyone who makes no mistakes in speaking is perfect, able to keep the whole body in check” (James 3:2). From this point of view, we can never feel justified in speaking badly of anyone, anyone at all, because it would be the opposite to what Christ preached with his words and life. But charity in speech goes farther, it seeks to spread the good name of others, considering their qualities, pointing out their virtues, highlighting their achievements and success, praising anything good and virtuous we discover in them. This virtue thus becomes an
Club Alpes Sevilla, visitan asilos de ancianos
«Our words would be empty if we didn’t give ourselves in practice.»
apostolate since it develops into constructive charity.

As every virtue, charity in speech demands self-mastery. It does not normally come naturally and spontaneously. At its source there is another, even deeper habit – that of always thinking well of our neighbor, sincerely esteeming him in the depths of our hearts. This takes watching over our thoughts, fighting especially against prejudice, which is the source of frequent and persistent strife, taking pains to be kind, understanding, friendly and courteous, and above all being loyal, just and sincere in our mutual feelings and words. Christ was able to be patient with and understand others. Christ met many sinners, and welcomed them with a heart full of kindness, not strict justice. He did not proclaim the errors of sinners but received them with a heart full of understanding and kindness. What conversions he worked with a little understanding! Let us reject categorically all feelings of jealousy, envy, rivalry and resentment. Let there be no room for any of this in our hearts, for as Christians we are called to support one another and to form in Christ’s love a family of brothers and sisters who are anxious to appreciate, esteem and serve one another. “If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it,” says Saint Paul (1 Cor 12:26).

Christ teaches us that “the good person out of the good treasure of the heart produces good, and the evil person out of evil treasure produces evil; for it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45). The “old self” of which Saint Paul speaks (see Col 3:9), wounded by original sin, tends to focus more on other people’s faults and flaws rather than their virtues and accomplishments. But we Christians have God’s grace to aid us, his Spirit dwells in us, and so we have the strength we need to get over this tendency, fostering always good and positive thoughts.

Our Father Founder offered some practical advice in his letter on Gospel charity: “Cultivate the habit of always seeing peoples’ positive side. And even though the evidence is that this or that person has serious defects, ask yourselves always: what hidden qualities and virtues does this person possess beyond what I see?” (October 22, 1993). The good person looks at everything with kind eyes. In this way, good will conquer evil, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Rom 12:21). It should be such a strong habit in our lives that if ever an unwanted remark were to “slip out,” we should apologize immediately and then highlight what is good. We must always bear in mind the directive we learned in the Movement from the first years of its foundation: “Believe all the good you hear and only the evil you see, and excuse the latter internally.” During the final moments of his life and from his torment on the cross, Jesus our Redeemer also excused
Los niños participaron activamente en los concursos organizados por Soñar Despierto en Irlanda.
«When you seek the good of your neighbor, your charity is full of initiative, detail and ingenuity. It does so in all simplicity.»
in his heart his executioners and all of us for whom he was giving his life, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).

I pray to God for his grace for us all, so that we will continue to strive with all our heart to live more perfectly and grow in this virtue of charity in speech, towards acquaintances and strangers, those we like and those we find it harder to deal with. If we love only those who love us, what merit is there in that (see Matt 5:46)? Christ’s invitations in this regard are very clear on the pages of the Gospel: “Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own?” (Matt 7:1-3). “Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners” (Matt 9:13). “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous” (Matt 5:44-45).

Christ’s daily attitude towards each and every man, woman and child he met made his preaching come very much alive. Let us imitate Christ in this. People were astounded at his words: “Never has anyone spoken like this” (John 7:46), and not only because of the truths he proclaimed. It was also due to the meek and kind heart from which they came. Look at how sensitively and tactfully Christ corrects Simon, who had judged negatively Christ and the woman kneeling at his feet, and how he defends the sinful woman’s dignity, repentance and gestures of love! When for example in our family life or work we must say no or give some bad news or provide a correction that might hurt somebody, let us do so as charitably as possible. Let them see that even though it is a no or a painful remedy, all we want is their good. You can’t seek the good while using means that are not based on or justified by charity. Charity itself and charity in speech are not means to an end. They are precisely the very end for which we do all things.

Let us always be the promoters of what is good, and broadcast the good works that so many people undertake. Let our words and speech lead others to a greater appreciation and respect for the Holy Father, bishops, pastors, priests, other ecclesial movements and realities. Let our words be an expression of esteem and support for all. A very clear application is in the area of ecumenism. Dialogue in truth and love. Cardinal John O’Connor, whom we remember
Jóvenes de Soñar Despierto.
«Charity in speech is a form of apostolate we can all engage in. It is a concrete way to go through this world
with great admiration, had as his motto while Archbishop of New York, “There can be no love without justice.” We must live in justice, but not as the stickler for justice or the one who coldly applies the law. Justice is crowned in charity. Let us be what the Gospel asks us to be: salt of the earth, light of the world, leaven, through charity (see Matt 5:13-14).

We cannot close our eyes and say that in the world intrigue, calumny and slander do not abound. Unfortunately, many conversations are full of them, becoming almost a hobby. At the same time, I am sure that Christ is asking each one of us, as one body, to hold up firmly this flag and standard of Christianity, being there for and loving everyone without exception. There are no borders for a Christian. There is nothing, no race or culture that will keep us apart in living Christ’s command. Let each and every word of ours be positive and marked with the sign of the meek and humble Christ, especially when we are suffering, in times of trial or in serious difficulty. Let us strive only to build, putting a stop to anything that remotely resembles criticism or gossip. Whoever sees us must be able to say what was said of the first Christians: See how they love one another.

I think we owe God thanks for the wonderful climate of charity we live in Regnum Christi, for it is a clear sign of Christ’s presence among us. It is also what we see in so many other movements and groups, for the Holy Spirit is at work in our Church. We have the responsibility to know, live, and pass on our charism just as faithfully as the Legionaries and Regnum Christi members who have gone before us and are now in the Father’s house. They were a clear example of what it means to practice charity in all its nuances.

The Blessed Virgin is an eloquent example of delicate charity, fruit of her soul being filled with love for mankind. May she always be close by our side, knowing she will lead us to the safe haven. With her we discover the confidence that comes not from self-sufficiency but rather from the humility and the joy of knowing that God has asked us to faithfully reflect his kindness, and he aids us with his grace.

Assuring you a place in my prayers, I remain your faithful servant in Christ,

Alvaro Corcuera, LC


PUBLICATION DATE: 2007-07-25


 
 


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