Through the Midst of Thorns and Thistles

Dear Parishioners and Visitors, 

When we are offended or treated unjustly our initial response can tend toward a violent response. However, this was not Jesus' way and it cannot be our way in relationships, including with those who may consider us their enemies. His way is one of disarming the violence of the other by the unexpected action instead of the expected "eye-for-an-eye" immediate violent reaction. 

In his preaching, St. Dominic found himself going from one town to another in Southern France and became lost. Coming across a man on the dirt road, Dominic asked the man for directions. The man then took Dominic along a different path through the midst of thorns and thistles. Dominic's ankles and lower legs were getting scratched and bloodied and Dominic began to realize that this man was doing this on purpose, yet he kept going along as if he didn't know. The man finally stopped in his tracks and, bending down, begged Dominic to forgive him because he was intentionally leading Dominic across this thorny path since he was a Cathar heretic. Dominic forgave the man and because Dominic had so persevered the man converted to Catholicism and followed Dominic. 

Going the extra mile with another who considers himself or herself our enemy offers the increased possibility for a disarming of whatever motivates one to do harm. Revenge is not a part of our truest Catholic faith. Patient endurance, mercy and love of enemies is disarming and, while not easy, it is virtuous. 

Dominic endured the pain of being lascerated by thorns and thistles for the sake of another who wished him harm. Dominic followed in the way of Jesus and this as well is our call today. Moreover, by such endurance we ourselves are further converted from being armed with anger into being transformed into love.

In God's loving kindness,

-fr. Chris, O.P.