Three times in the past few hours. I don’t know if that’s serendipity or dumb luck or coincidence. I’ve run across this word today, “respect” in a live conversation, a telephone chat, and online, too. Maybe that’s an urging to write about it here.

A priest friend dropped in at the parish center, and he described his experience as pastor (just 13-months-appointed) of a merged faith community of two long-established parishes. He mentioned his participation in a blended family workshop. The presenter mentioned that when he brings kids and she brings kids into a new marriage, that the key value for peace/success/fruitfulness is respect. If you can lay the ultimate ground rule of respect for others, then in three years you will begin to reap the fruits. As the identification deepens within a respectful family, you’ll soon find the kids have each others’ backs and of course they are “my sisters and brothers.”

The merged parishes, I presumed are the same. Father Neil affirmed it. He focuses on respect and tries to set aside old rivalries (St Luke’s Parish made $22,000 on their raffle–we should be able to double that on ours … or sports page headlines like “St John’s Destroys Blessed Sacrament 48-7”).

After the phone conversation, I found this article on Busted Halo, “Seeking God in Grad School.” Christina Gebel wrote about it like Aretha sang it:

It was evident that my classmates and I were not going to agree on the topic of abortion. I knew this without even broaching the subject. However, our class discussions challenged me to get past the tired public debate and have nuanced conversations. I respected my classmates for the common ground we shared: wanting the best for women and mothers in our nation. I never once felt disrespected or even dismissed, and I was happy to repay that by listening and considering the viewpoints of my classmates.

Without listening, consideration, and respect a believer has not a prayer of persuasion, let alone converting others.

Alas, some Catholics insist. They think if they just talk louder, longer, and with more of the Catechism on their side, that the ice will thaw.

For me, I’m concerned about converting people to Christ. Conversion to my tastes in music, art, film, books–somewhat less so. I’ll tell you what I think about that kind of thing. But you have your gig and I have mine. Chant and polyphony? Great. But don’t talk to me about 100%.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
This entry was posted in Politics, spirituality, The Blogosphere and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Respect

  1. Liam says:

    I believe part of the dynamic is a desire to demonstrate one has the courage necessary to provide prophetic witness. It’s an impulse that progressive and conservative “witnesses” are equally prone to. So many people seem to place themselves in an agonistic melodrama (our media culture roots this habit deeply in so many of us – seeing our lives as a movie; and most of us have no idea how alien a self-imagination this would have been to most of humanity over history), and then the winds of egoism are very likely to take over from the wind of the Spirit, but in our blindspot so that we can rationalize it away, often with grandiose visions of dystopia or utopia.

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