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33. Fraternal Correction

1. Fraternal correction is the spiritual almsdeed ofreproving a sinner; it is an act of charity.

2. Sometimes we are under obligation of giving fraternalcorrection. This is always so when a discreet word of ours couldlead a grievous sinner to amend his ways.

3. Correction as an act of justice is the duty ofthose whose place and station require them to direct othersspiritually. Correction as an act of charity is a warningproperly given on due occasion by anyone who can prudently preventsin or cause a sinner to repent and amend.

4. Fraternal correction can be given by anyone to anyother person, be that person's place high or low. Indeed,sometimes conditions make it the duty of a subject tocorrect his superior. Yet correction must always be given withprudence and discretion, and never with insolence.

5. One sinner cannot justly rebuke another in such a waythat his own sin seems less to be condemned than that of the personhe rebukes. Yet, if the thing be done humbly, one sinner maycorrect another, even though he condemns himself at the same time.The good thief at the Crucifixion humbly acknowledged his own sinas he rebuked the bad thief for upbraiding Christ.

6. Fraternal correction, to deserve the name, must be anact of charity, not of officiousness, or meddling, or pride, orhyprocrisy. It is to be given in the spirit of loving friendship inGod. And when such correction is necessary, those bound toadminister it, by reason either of justice or of charity, are notto refrain from it for fear that the person corrected may be angryor resentful, or may be worse in conduct because of what is said tohim in correction.

7. Certainly, fraternal correction is always to be givenin a manner befitting the exercise of charity. It is to be givenprivately-at least, at first. Some evils may call forpublic denunciation, but private admonition should be given first.Sacred Scripture directs that this course be taken. (See Matt.18:15.)

8. After private admonition has proved fruitless, thesinner should be corrected before "one or two more"prudent witnesses, and thusevery opportunity should be givenhim to amend without suffering public dishonor.

"The Lord has always revealed to mortals the treasures of his wisdom and his spirit, but now that the face of evil bares itself more and more, so does the Lord bare his treasures more."
St John of the Cross, OCD - Doctor of the Church

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"Many words do not satisfy the soul; but a good life eases the mind and a clean conscience inspires great trust in God."
Thomas á Kempis

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"The one thing necessary which Jesus spoke of to Martha and Mary consists in hearing the word of God and living by it."
R. Garrigou-Lagrange, OP

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