I had a most enjoyable evening a few nights ago, doing something that I have not had the chance to do in a while - talk to young people about spiritual things.
I talked to the group of ten university students about perseverance. I took on the subject that you know has been dear to me in recent times: the struggle of St. Paul. Specifically, I talked about his struggle with the Corinthians, as seen in the the two letters addressed to them. I don't have the energy to relate everything I said - you will be relieved to hear - but the main points.
If you ever want to meditate on the subject of how to navigate interpersonal problems like a Christian, read these two letters. I was led to examine this subject by Jerome Murphy-O'Connor's book, the review of which will appear in the Summer (May) edition of the Catholic Review of Books.
First and Second Corinthians are a treasure trove for the spirituality of confrontation. How to preach the Gospel when everyone hates you, and you hate making trouble, and yet you know it's God's will - that is the fuller title of the letters.
Do you fit into that category?
Your own words come back to haunt you. The "pep talk" I gave to these young people, I had to draw on myself. I had a rough week of ideological conflict, some of which you have no doubt perceived. I hate making trouble, but you know, sometimes you just have to. The reason why our world sucks so badly is that peace makers love peace. The bastards love to fight, and they make the world what it is. The Putins, the homosexualists, etc.
What does Paul do?
Paul looks to the cross. He looks to suffering itself as both the vindication of his ministry and - paradoxically - as the source of his strength.
That was my main point.
Paul was a man of many 'feelings' and so we shouldn't be ashamed that we have them too. Feelings indicate very little.
Suffering and conflict are not signs that you are not doing God's will. That is a hard thing for peace-makers to grasp.
What a wonderful group of young people! I miss being around people who are interested in spiritual matters.