And another thing...
The people with whom one walks on a pilgrimage are not chosen; a motley crew, perhaps, and including some with whom one would not usually choose to spend three days of one's life.
If I am honest, there are one or two people whom I have, in previous years, found quite irritating. There is one who shouted at me and others one year in an intemperate fashion (dubbed the Sergeant Major in my mind ever since); there is one who has fussy mannerisms which drove me to distraction; there are some who seem preoccupied with self to the exclusion of others: talking through the meditations, not following the simple instructions given by the Chefs de Chapitre... and so on.
Yet this year, many of those whom I have found annoying in previous years had a different effect on me.
After all, how would I like to be perpetually loathed as a bully because on one hot afternoon, several years ago, I had been a bit short with some people who were out of order? And who is to say that my mannerisms are not irritating to someone else in the chapter? And how often have I thought first of myself and my concerns when struggling to keep going through the heat and tiredness?
And so, some of the very people I once found irritating are those I now look on as old friends and marching companions.
It is all too easy to choose to spend our time with those we find congenial, and to avoid those whom we do not. But the pilgrimage reminded me that such was not the way of Our Lord, nor is it the way of the Church. And if we persevere with those we find irritating, we may realise that our irritation says more about us than about them, and they, of course, are loveable.
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