Fr. Mullady talked about the corporal and spiritual works of mercy at our Lay Dominican retreat on Saturday, and made a particular point about correcting the sinner. This is indeed a work of mercy, but it needs to be done carefully because people often do not respond well to being corrected. When he was in formation, lo these many years ago, he was taught that correction should generally be left to the religious superior, because they hold a position of authority and correcting those under their authority is one of their jobs. He was further taught that it was sometimes appropriate for a friar to correct one of his peers, and that there are three proper ways to do it: humbly, recognizing my own sins as well as the sins of my brother; quietly, because no one likes being yelled at; and above all rarely. I should only attempt to correct my brother’s or sister’s sin if I see a reasonable likelihood of success, precisely because it’s so easy to make matters worse.
If I’m in the position of authority—e.g., I’m a parent—I might need to make the attempt anyway. But even then, humble and quiet beats proud and strident.
The application of these ways to the Internet is left as an exercise for the reader.
photo credit: pixabay