Skip to comments.Meditation: INDIFFERENCE - Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen [Ecumenic]
Posted on 06/06/2008 12:01:37 PM PDT by NYer
Every teacher knows that it is easier to win a mind with a mistaken interest than one that has no interest at all. The greatest of the Apostles, Paul, came to the Lord through the flames of hate, and the reason of his hate remained the reason of his love - a vivid recognition of all the Person of Christ stood for in relation to humanity. The sensuous passion of Magdalen finally swept in the opposite directions and became the supreme dedication of her love.
But what is extremely difficult for the blessings of heaven to work upon is indifference and the middle-age spread of false broadmindedness. The Lord can do something with the obviously bad, but it is rather difficult to do anything with the obviously good. They have outlived their hot venturesome days but have not yet seen into the vanity the world prizes. They are comfortable and hence ask for no change; because they have wealth, they think that they are worthful...
Dante in his description of hell said that when he first entered it, he found some spirits that were neither rebellious nor faithful, but existed solely for themselves. They were “hateful, distasteful to God and to His enemies!”
When these indifferent souls steal, they do not restore; when they have moral collapses, disgusting to the moral sense, they do not repent, but creep back into an old respectability; they judge themselves by the accepted standards of the group in which they move; social refinement is regarded as the flower and the aroma of virtue; secular conventions are given the force of Divine commands; and finally, they may call themselves stupid but never sinful.
Herein lies the psychological reason for the denial of immorality. Knowing that such indifference cannot escape judgment when all things are weighed in the balance, they resort to denying it....
No one can pick up the Scriptures without reading a devastating criticism of social moral standards, as when the Divine Savior put a harlot above a Pharisee, a penitent robber above a religious leader, a prodigal son above his exemplary elder brother. Many a tree as it stands in the forest, looks fair, fine, solid and valuable, but when it is cut down and sawed for use reveals rottenness, cross grain and knots. Social conformity to low standards may give the appearance of goodness, but in the judgment of God, the true character is revealed.
(Excerpt from Guide to Contentment)
REFLECTION ON THE ARCHBISHOP'S WORDS:
In his meditation the Archbishop warns us against one of the greatest dangers in the spiritual life. It is the danger of indifference. He states something that we do not sufficiently reflect upon. He tells us that it is more promising to convert a person who is moving in the wrong direction in life than to convert a person who is not moving at all. They are stuck in one spot. Conversion involves a sincere turning around of one’s life, not simply a standing still. The indifferent never commit themselves to anything - they do no bad, but they also do no good. They bury their talents as Jesus spoke about in a Gospel parable because they fear the punishment of evil (so they don’t risk doing that!), but they also fear the effort involved in doing good (so they shun that with equal indifference).
Indifference is an apathy of the soul! One of the best descriptions of apathy I ever came across was in a cartoon I once saw. It showed a woman working at a table on a crossword puzzle, while her husband was engrossed in reading the newspaper. Apparently she had asked her husband the meaning of a word to help her with her crossword puzzle. His response was on the bottom of the cartoon. It read: “No, I don’t know the meaning of the word apathy, and I couldn’t care less!” The apathy engendered by indifference leads ultimately to lukewarmness. Indifference and lukewarmness are enemies of love. Hate will destroy love by a head-on conflict with it, but lukewarmness kills love by sapping it of all its inner life and strength, thus drying it up from within. This is why we find such strong words against lukewarmness in Sacred Scripture, especially in the Book of Revelation. The Lord speaks to the “presiding spirit of the Church in Laodicea.” (This is a reference to the bishop of the particular church to whom the Lord is speaking.) He says, “I know your deeds: I know you are neither hot nor cold. How I wish you were one or the other - hot or cold! But because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spew you out of My mouth!” (Rev. 3:15-16)
The Archbishop ends his meditation by showing us how the Lord encountered certain people in His lifetime who began their lives in sin, but ended in an abundance of grace, whereas others He encountered began as seemingly good but ultimately never achieved holiness. Their indifference had paralyzed them against any spiritual growth or development. As the Archbishop points out, we can’t tell the goodness of a tree from its outside, but only when it has been cut down can we know what it contained on the inside.
This little greeting of St. Francis always reminds me of the special gift of peace! The human heart was made for peace that only Jesus can bestow upon us: My peace I leave with you, My peace is my farewell gift to you. I do not give it to you as the world gives peace (Jn. 14:27). As Saint Augustine put it 1500 years ago: “God, You have made our hearts for Yourself, and they are ever restless until they rest in Yet peace has its price especially to maintain the freedoms that come with peace!
Unfortunately, part of that price is the defense of our freedom from all forms of aggression, including violence, terrorism and war! The greatest part of this price is usually paid by the young men and women in our Armed Forces who unselfishly place themselves in “harm’s way” to protect the freedom and security we enjoy.
Hate is NOT the opposite of Love.....Indifference is.
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Thank you for posting this. Indifference has spread everywhere and is sadly the cause of many catholics drifting away from the faith.
There seems nothing more difficult than trying to move a person out of this state. I have someone close to me that exists here, and I am left with nothing to do but pray.