Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Charity and Truth: On Marriage

So I've been having a debate in my head for the past year (or longer) on which element in the Faith is more important:  Truth or Charity.  I engaged in a lot of debate with Catholics during the 2008 presidential elections, and it was hard for me sometimes to discern whether I should promote the truth in my witness or to hold back to allow time for spiritual growth in charity.  I've learned a lot since then, but I still struggle with this question - when is it more important to promote the truth for the good of another's soul, as opposed to withholding the truth for a time when one isn't spiritually in a position to receive it out of charity.  My husband posits that in Heaven we will more clearly recognize that Truth is indeed and in fact Charity, and I can't wait to see that!  But for now in my human weakness, I continue on with my fellow human family and wonder.  It's so easy to say "truth always", but I've seen a lot of well intentioned Catholics throw tenements of the Faith at people who were not spiritually ready to receive them, and have been turned away.  I've been guilty of this myself.  I think there are grace filled times for truth in evangelization, and there are grace filled times for charity.  For me, it comes down to having the spiritual where-with-all to discern the different points of grace along the way.  When do we respond to a person in Truth?  When do we respond to a person in Charity?  The only way to discern this is through the veil of humility, the key to witnessing the Faith.  When we're really close to a person, and we'd like to sacrifice the Truth out of fear of their rejection, we need to pray for the gift of humility to help us promote the Truth in spite of another's reaction or rejection.  When we're really on fire with the Faith and we're ready to lead in the Crusade, we need to pray for the gift of humility to help us act charitably so that we are kinder and gentler to those around us who might be struggling.  I guess when I get really good at evangelizing, those two distinct facets of the Faith will be indistinguishable. 

Another analogy of Truth and  Charity in action could be found in a marriage.  The man of the household, the husband, personification of Truth, leads and guides the way.  The woman, the wife, personification of Charity, supports and lives the Truth with her husband.  I feel that in a good marriage  one does not seek to dominate the other, but both strive to live for the other, lending their virtue one to the other on the path toward Heaven.  I was made for my husband, for the vocation of our marriage.  Therefore I have gifts and strengths that aid my husband along his way to Heaven.  I have weaknesses and faults that my husband was made to help me correct.  I believe this is true in every Catholic marriage that lives the Holy Sacrament.  The husband in a Sacramental marriage should not seek to dominate his wife, just as the wife in a Sacramental marriage should not seek to undermine her husband.  Thus, in the end, Truth and Charity must work together, equally for the good, in order to become more fully Catholic.

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