How Prayer and the Faith of Others Can Transform Each of Us
Followers of Christ, humans all, can have blind spots — and we must be open to the loving guidance of friends and family
Years ago, in driver’s ed, I was taught to check the mirrors — but also to look over my shoulder for any vehicles in my blind spots.
An extra set of eyes in the car can also be a good thing, especially when the driver may not see certain signs of danger in time.
Pope Francis reminds faithful Catholics, “Fraternal correction is an aspect of the love and communion that should reign in the Christian community … It is possible and effective only if each person recognizes himself as a sinner and in need of the Lord’s forgiveness. The same awareness that enables me to recognize the errors of the other, first of all reminds me that I myself have made and make mistakes, many times.”
During my time at Brother Rice High School in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, I had the privilege of being a member of Regnum Christi, an international Catholic movement. We had weekly prayer meetings, with a friendship with Jesus Christ as our main focus; we also tried to give back to the community. Our school chaplain, Fr. Lorenzo Gomez, LC, was an incredible inspiration and not afraid to challenge us or call us out when needed.
During one of our summer prayer gatherings, he called us together and asked if we could help him with a project at the retreat center. My own plan for the day was different, so I said, “Hey, guys, I thought we were all going to the pool? It’s a hot day, and a lot of the girls we know will be there.” (Reminder: I was in high school at the time.)
Fr. Gomez asked if he could have a moment with me. He said I was a “good kid,” but that “at times you can be selfish. You soak up all the graces from God in prayer and the sacraments — but when God wants something from you, you don’t let Him squeeze you.”
Speaking from faith and kindness, Fr. Gomez was spot on.
As the years have passed, other people as well have helped me engage in “course correction” when necessary, and I am grateful to each of them.
Make sure you’re humble enough to accept and appreciate corrections along the way.
Michael Pope, a business leader in Manhattan, shared his perspective on this issue: “One of the things we are asked to do as followers of Christ is to deliver the truth with love. This is rarely an easy thing to do, especially when we’re on the receiving end. As a bond trader in New York City, I have spent many an evening at client and dealer events in the city only to take an Uber or car service home,” he said.
He added, “Invariably, I wish the driver were driving more quickly, as all I want to do is get home and get to bed. One night, as I shared a car with a colleague, I vented my frustration at a driver for his slow pace.
“The next day, my colleague took me aside and said, ‘Mike, you weren’t kind to that driver.’ The comment hit me like a cold glass of water to the face. That exchange took place some years ago, but I still think of it almost every time I take a car home. Change is hard, but if we’re open to correction, we can take the baby steps we need to be better witnesses to the Gospel life.”
We are all works in progress, and all of us have blind spots, areas in our lives that prevent us from being more Christ-like. Don’t be afraid to offer loving and constructive criticism to those you know and love — and make sure you’re also humble enough to accept and appreciate corrections along the way, too.
Fr. Michael Sliney is a Catholic priest based in the New York City area and an adviser to the Lumen Institute, a professional business group.