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Wednesday 12 May 2021

Restless heart The art of living together

The art of living together

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In this period, each of us is called to practice a particular virtue that could be defined as the "art of coexistence". We all spend much more time in contact with the members of our family, becoming more aware of their defects and getting used to their virtues, so much so that they are taken for granted and invisible.

On this issue I don't think I'm a master but I have known masters and I want to mention them, at the risk of saying obvious things ... Calling this attitude "art" can already be misleading because art presupposes a personal commitment, and instead in this chance it is an art that borders on the divine, which is the art of knowing how to love. I have known many people who are a model in this field but one in particular has given me a lot and has substantially affected my attitude towards others.

The first time I met Saint Josemaría Escrivá I was 19 and eager to meet the one everyone called "the Father". I was disconcerted because, even though we were about thirty people, the Father immediately established a climate of naturalness, of family, without any ceremonial or artificial aspect. The Father was such a happy father to be with his children that he joked with overflowing good humor and looking at each one as a priceless treasure. At the end of the meeting I had tears in my eyes but I didn't know if they were moved by the tangible faith of the Father or by the irrepressible laughter.

That meeting remained as a staple in my memory and defined in me what is the attitude of a Christian towards the people around him. For the Father it was evident that each of us was a masterpiece of God, that we had qualities that allowed us to do anything, and we were deserving of all the affection of this world (without fuss, it must be specified). I was used to the naturally benevolent Neapolitan attitude and amused in treating others but here was another thing, there was the faith that saw "the same blood of Jesus flow through our veins". It is an expression that the Father himself used to explain how well it took. We are faced with the theological virtues of faith and love and then it is clear that we need God's help and talking about art eventually means adding that little bit of originality proper to each one, but, let's be clear, the strength comes from the help of God.

We have entered a supernatural climate but it is good to clarify that we are not good (as Jesus himself specified by including himself) but it is the Lord who helps us to be good, so it is necessary to start from here.

Of course there are nice people who by nature make your life pleasant without putting faith and love at stake, but it is clear that there is a limit. If there is no unconditional love, one always remains in a limited and limited area. The saints testify to this: they were men of God who acted on behalf of God, never of simple social workers.

Now that it is clear with what love we have to look at others, I would observe that we cannot love a person if we have no respect for him. If cohabitation becomes difficult (it can be a wife, a parent, a brother, etc ...) it is better to stop and consider his virtues, realizing that, if he is there, it means that he deserves my consideration for many reasons. It is an important point. I don't have to despise anyone but see their qualities. St. Josemaría said jokingly that strangers consider the child who puts his fingers in his nose as dirty, while his mother thinks: he will become a researcher ... Each has its own personality and conditionings: the overall look at him (or her) helps me to accept him as he is. Accept, welcome, that's the point. To correct there is time ...

To be sure that the relationship with a person is good, in addition to theological considerations, a test is significant. Am I laughing with that person? Joke with her? Is the relationship relaxed? Or must we point everything out, unnecessarily complicating the relationship?

Of course, for my part I have to be calm and, possibly in a good mood, even if in the morning, alone, I cried thinking that I can't keep going any more. Serenity and hospitality depend on me and must be there, otherwise everything is useless. More than many talents, serenity is the indispensable context in which I relate to others. Knowing how to fly high above the roughness of coexistence without getting caught in the treetops. It is no coincidence that it is said to "fly over". Therefore, in addition to basic faith and love, the hierarchy of virtues provides: serenity and esteem.

These overlapping rules seem ridiculous to me but it is necessary to repeat them because sometimes human relationships deteriorate while these fundamental rules of good coexistence are neglected.

Happy family living together
Photo credit: Jgabiel by Pxhere

Valuing others. Along with the esteem goes the encouragement to make big small businesses: attempt a competition, embark on a demanding professional itinerary or simply improve in some virtue. I still remember the voice of Saint Josemaría when he said in Spanish: "tú que tienes un corazón grande, an imposing cabeza". You who have a big heart, exceptional intelligence ...

Knowing how to celebrate. The commitment yes, but the party is part of the needs of the human soul. Celebrating someone is a solid way to show that we love each other.

Be helpful. There are no unworthy tasks for us. We must be ready to wash the floor, go on errands, go down to the pharmacy.

When someone is sick, he must feel the warmth of understanding. The patient needs to be treated but also understood, without whims or oddities, but must be understood and supported. You don't cure disease, you cure a person.

If we have a duty to correct we must think that the correction will be effective to the extent that the person feels loved. With St. Josemaría the corrections were welcomed with joy because it was clear that he wanted a good for your soul.

Each of these chapters would be tantamount to a treatise, but the synthesis can serve ...

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