“I thought you were above these small weaknesses. Do we think, my dear Sister, that we should never be contradicted? Do we think that everyone must give in to our wishes, and that they are obliged to find everything we do and say good? Is this not against the obligation we have of imitating the way Our Lord lived and acted? He always subjected Himself to others, saying that He did not come upon earth to carry out His will.”
Louise de Marillac, Letter to Sr. Madeleine (l. 121).
- It seems that Sister Maria Marta, who had been Superior in other houses, had acted without permission of the Superior, Sister Magdalena, who exceeded by correcting her. Hurt, she wrote to Saint Louise who, consoling her, answered her with the above letter.
- Tolerance is necessary in this present world, if we want to live in peace. Many current wars or violence have been provoked by intolerance and fanaticism. There are countries and some people that do not guarantee the fundamental rights of people and minorities. They increase the attacks and marginalize others for being different, having a different culture or thinking differently. Moreover, tolerance is needed in these times when people’s sense of sovereignty and the right to emigrate to other nations, in search of work and well-being, increase.
- The force of intolerance lies in believing oneself possessor of the truth or ethics, and using force and power to impose them. If this truth is religious, we encounter fundamentalism; if it is patriotic, there is danger of turning it into terrorism; and if it is state, in a dictatorship. Likewise, tolerance is demanded by social, family and community life.
- The Vincentian Family also wants to be tolerant, and its members consider it an insult to be considered intolerant. They are not xenophobic, and welcome immigrants as brothers. The different color from other men does not disgust them or isolate them because they are of different skin or another race. They do not reject marginalized groups because of their social maladjustment, and respect the ideas of others. It could not be otherwise. Society would not allow them to go against human rights, declared untouchable by the United Nations on December 10, 1948. Because they are Christians, the Vincentians also have a more transcendent motive: we are all children of the same Father, brothers redeemed by Jesus Christ and received by the one Spirit of the Father and of the Son. And because they are followers of Saint Vincent, Saint Louise or Blessed Ozanam, they feel that all of them generally belong to the poor classes.
Questions for dialogue:
- What do you do, so that in your house and in your family, you tolerate and respect one another, parents and children?
- Do you find it difficult to respect the ideas or behavior of your friends, that are against your own ideas?
- And among the members of the Vincentian branch to which you belong, do you always want to impose your opinions?
Benito Martínez, C.M.