So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter (2 Thess. 2:15). Guard what has been entrusted to you. Avoid the godless chatter and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge, for by professing it some have missed the mark as regards faith (1 Tim. 6:21-22).

Friday, March 20, 2015

Lenten word of the day: integrity.

The following essay begins with a story shared by a passing stranger some months ago. Our conversation was brief, yet her story continues to resonate.

Several years ago Rebecca (not her real name) was accused of several misdeeds by a seemingly rational individual who alleged she had violated his workspace.
So I always take pains to have a clear conscience toward both God and man. Acts 24:16
In response to an initial accusation, as any normal person might do, Rebecca offered an apology, an apology that was not really necessary since Rebecca had done nothing wrong. Rebecca felt she had to do something to reach out to an individual who had accused her of misconduct.
If you try my heart, if you visit me by night, if you test me, you will find no wickedness in me; my mouth does not transgress. Psalm 17:3
After the first accusation, Rebecca was repeatedly harassed by the individual whose only basis for calling into question her character in the first place was an irrational suspicion of theft. Rebecca described the harassing emails she received and unfounded rumours spread about her as an attempt to provoke her into doing something that would cast doubt on her innocence. Rebecca didn't react to the provocations. Instead, she forwarded the harassing emails to the immediate appropriate authority, her supervisor.
The integrity of the upright guides them, but the crookedness of the treacherous destroys them. Proverbs 11:3
Contrary to the allegations of theft made against Rebecca, nothing was taken. The process which hauled her to the carpet confirmed that nothing had been taken and also determined that the person making the allegations had used the process to intimidate Rebecca.
Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who act faithfully are his delight. Proverbs 12:22
In response to the calumny her accuser had attempted against her, Rebecca took the high ground and trusted that the process would expose the truth.
Keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. 1 Peter 3:16
Rebecca had the integrity to stand in the right place, to stand on the truth of her innocence and believe that truth would overcome falsehood. Had her accuser's allegations held sway, Rebecca would have lost her job. The accusations and ensuing unfounded rumours spread by coworkers were so devastating she had wanted to quit. Because she, as a single mom, had to provide for her children and protect her pension, she remained at her job, the job at which she would frequently meet the one who had tried to rob her of her dignity and her job and and her security.

Integrity in the face of adversity.

Christians face a lot of pressure in the workplace and at school for being Christian, for simply upholding the teachings of Christ by the way we live our lives and the reasoned opinions we hold. Accusations of bigotry, sexism, intolerance and homophobia are frequently lobbed at those who defend the dignity of all people by defending the Catholic teaching regarding Holy Matrimony and human sexuality. It seems it rarely crosses the minds of those espousing tolerance that their actions which attempt to bully Christians into silence (and attempt to suppress Charter Rights and Freedoms applying to all citizens) create a climate of fear and intolerance toward Christian citizens and other people of faith who share similar convictions.

Christians might do well to recall our Saviour's teaching:
Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. St. Matthew 5:11-12.
Watch at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of man. St. Luke 21:36.
Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God, that we may be found worthy of the promises of Christ.

As Christians, we can demonstrate integrity by observing the command of our Lord to love and pray for our detractors. We should possess the integrity of the suffering Christ when facing pressures to conform to worldly agendas. Speaking the truth in love will not always win us converts, but surely reasonable people will find in our generous defence of human dignity a reason to respect us and give the Gospel at least a second hearing. As Blessed Teresa of Calcutta reminds us: we are not called to be successful; we are called to be faithful.

Lenten word of the day: integrity.
c.1400, "innocence, blamelessness; chastity, purity," from Old French integrité or directly from Latin integritatem (nominative integritas) "soundness, wholeness, blamelessness," from integer "whole". Sense of "wholeness, perfect condition" is mid-15c.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church
2477 Respect for the reputation of persons forbids every attitude and word likely to cause them unjust injury. He becomes guilty:
- of rash judgment who, even tacitly, assumes as true, without sufficient foundation, the moral fault of a neighbor; 
- of detraction who, without objectively valid reason, discloses another's faults and failings to persons who did not know them; 
- of calumny who, by remarks contrary to the truth, harms the reputation of others and gives occasion for false judgments concerning them.
2478 To avoid rash judgment, everyone should be careful to interpret insofar as possible his neighbor's thoughts, words, and deeds in a favorable way: 
Every good Christian ought to be more ready to give a favorable interpretation to another's statement than to condemn it. But if he cannot do so, let him ask how the other understands it. And if the latter understands it badly, let the former correct him with love. If that does not suffice, let the Christian try all suitable ways to bring the other to a correct interpretation so that he may be saved.
2479 Detraction and calumny destroy the reputation and honor of one's neighbor. Honor is the social witness given to human dignity, and everyone enjoys a natural right to the honor of his name and reputation and to respect. Thus, detraction and calumny offend against the virtues of justice and charity.
A dictionary of diabolical behaviour to be avoided.
Calumny
"False & malicious misrepresentation of the words or actions of others, calculated to injure their reputation" [Fowler], mid-15c., from Middle French calomnie (15c.), from Latin calumnia "trickery, subterfuge, misrepresentation, malicious charge," from calvi "to trick, deceive," from PIE root *kel- (6) "to deceive, confuse" (cognates: Greek kelein "to bewitch, seduce, beguile," Gothic holon "to deceive," Old Norse hol "praise, flattery," Old English hol "slander," holian "to slander").
Scuttlebutt
1805, "cask of drinking water kept on a ship's deck, having a hole (scuttle) cut in it for a cup or dipper," from scuttle "opening in a ship's deck" + butt "barrel." Earlier scuttle cask (1777). Meaning "rumor, gossip" first recorded 1901, originally nautical slang, traditionally said to be from the sailors' custom of gathering around the scuttlebutt to gossip. Compare water-cooler, figurative for "workplace gossip" mid-20c.
Malediction
mid-15c., from Old French maledicion "a curse" (15c.), from Latin maledictionem (nominative maledictio) "the action of speaking evil of, slander," in Late Latin "a curse," noun of action from past participle stem of maledicere "to speak badly or evil of, slander," from male "badly" + dicere "to say".
Libel
c.1300, "formal written statement," especially, in civil law, "plaintiff's statement of charges" (mid-14c.); from Old French libelle (fem.) "small book; (legal) charge, claim; writ; written report" (13c.), from Latin libellus "a little book, pamphlet; petition, written accusation, complaint," diminutive of liber "book". Broader sense of "any published or written statement likely to harm a person's reputation" is first attested 1630s.
Definitions are from the Online Etymology Dictionary.

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"A multitude of wise men is the salvation of the world(.)—Wisdom 6:24. Readers are welcome to make rational and responsible comments. Any comment that 1) offends human dignity and/or 2) which constitutes an irrational attack on the Catholic Faith will not go unchallenged. If deemed completely stupid, such a comment will most assuredly not see the light of day. Them's the rules. Don't like 'em? Move on.