One of the principles of the Spiritual Exercises made it unvarnished into the Catechism (2478). It is rather an anti-principle of the internet, where often enough, the worst possible interpretation is placed on a person (they are a felon, a heretic, a sinner, a murderer, a spy, or worst of all, a troll).

The principle is given to a spiritual director and reads:

To assure better cooperation between the one who is giving the Exercises and the exercitant, and more beneficial results for both, it is necessary to suppose that every good Christian is more ready to put a good interpretation on another’s statement than to condemn it as false. If an orthodox construction cannot be put on a proposition, the one who made it should be asked how he understands it. If he is in error, he should be corrected with all kindness. If this does not suffice, all appropriate means should be used to bring him to a correct interpretation, and so to defend the proposition from error.

Jim Manney, SJ, blogged on this a few years ago. He ponders an expansion of the Presupposition into everyday life:

How good it would be if spouses, politicians, business associates, and fellow Christians did what Ignatius advised, and were more ready to put a good interpretation on another’s statement than to condemn it as false.

It is not the way of the world. But it is the way of the Gospel. It’s probably past time for those of us in the blogosphere to apply this more rigorously in our exchanges.


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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