To Say It With Love

Posted: September 10, 2017 in Pastor's Page

Dear Sisters and Brothers,




This week’s Gospel addresses a very important aspect of community and Church life known as fraternal correction. Many of you have seen the reflection sheet I composed, entitled: “Fr. Eddie’s Rules for Saying Difficult Things to Others.” I will post it on the Holy Name of Jesus Church Facebook page again, so you can see it.


Basically, my rules call for framing the challenges we give others in the context of love, always in the hope of improving, saving, or at least detoxing a relationship. We should be constructive rather than destructive, provide a disclaimer in case there has been a misunderstanding, and we should avoid imputing motives at all costs. Fraternal correction is most effective focused on one specific thing and on how a specific behavior affects me (that is, the person making the confrontation.) Presenting a person with a whole list of accumulated grievances is a sure formula for failed communication. And both at the beginning and at the end of the confrontation, an expression of respect for the person needs to be expressed. The whole conversation needs to be carefully thought out so that it clearly expresses the problem, but does not go “over the top.”


Matthew’s Gospel presents a methodology that pays careful attention to the testimony of the witnesses, the number of witnesses required to get the point across, and the accuracy and veracity of their testimony. His overall framework has to do with improving the life of the Church, and he asserts that the community is authorized by the Holy Spirit with the authority to challenge (with charity and fairness of course) those members who fail to contribute to the good harmony of all.


One of my good Jesuit friends always likes to remind people that “if the only tool in your toolbox is a hammer, you will treat every problem as a nail.” In my opinion , there is just too much hammering going on today in our communities, even the use of bulldozers and wrecking balls in situations where a tweezers or a gentle wipe cloths is all that is needed to improve a situation or a relationship. Because many people are thriving on promoting divisiveness, we are noticing a growing lack of charity in our communities and a deterioration in the accuracy of our thinking .


Perhaps a fresh reading of this Sunday’s Gospel is what we need. And a good long look at oneself in the mirror always helps keep one honest!









(1) BEFOREHAND: Pray a lot, think a lot, journal a lot–prepare your mind, your heart, your deepest self


(2) Open with some positive remarks about the person; speak of your admiration, respect and love; if your feelings are not positive, speak of your desire to be on good terms with them.


(3) Open with a DISCLAIMER, asserting that the other person probably did not intend to cause a negative or hurtful reaction in you (hurt, rejection, put down, etc). Say that you know they would NEVER have done or said what they did had they known you would take it the way you did.


(4) Speak of what happened, what was said or done, as you observed it. Then say how that made you feel. Report about you, without assigning motives to the other person’s behavior.


(5) Say that you believe the other person may not even be aware that you were feeling hurt, put down, etc. Repeat that you don’t think the other person intended this.


(6) Once again, express your respect, love, or admiration for the person. Maybe even speak of something about them, something that they did for you in the past, that you really appreciated. If your feelings for the person are still somewhat frayed or negative, at least speak of your desire to be on good terms with them, and perhaps even to be friends. Cite something positive you might have heard said about the person.





(1) A Marine Corps Colonel, Lt. Col. James Quinn, USMC, a veteran of Korea and Viet Nam, used to say to his fellow officers: When you have to criticize or correct a soldier, you should always include some small words or praise. He was an incredible leader and enjoyed the greatest respect from the soldiers he commanded.


(2) Always report what an action did to you or made you feel. Never impute a motive to the other person.


(3) Don’t drag up the past. Just talk about targeted moments, specific events


(4) Respect a person’s necessity to “save face”. This is especially important in some cultures


(5) Don’t limit your conversational tools to only hammers. If the only tool in your toolbox is a hammer, you will treat every problem like a nail. Sometimes a tweezers is called for.


(6) Remember the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.


(7) If you let things go too long without saying anything about them, it will make matters worse and complicate your ability to do clear and effective reporting


(8) Christian Community requires WORK. We need to do fraternal correction, but avoid self-righterousness at all costs.


FINAL NOTE: As with all ” rules”, these need to be adapted to your particular situation.











(1) Antes de hablar, tienes que hacer mucha oración y organizar bien lo que quieres decir y lo que no quieres decir . Muchas veces te ayuda escribir de antemano lo que quieres decir y quizás mostrarlo a otra persona de confianza. La otra persona puede ayudarte a “purificar” tu mensaje, y quizás ofrecer sugerencias valiosas.


(2) Siempre hay que buscar un lugar privado y un momento tranquilo (tranquilo para ti y para la otra persona) donde puedas tener esta conversación


(3) Comenzar la conversación con una expresión de respeto y admiración para la otra persona. Si la relación que tienes con la persona no es muy buena en ese momento, expresar el deseo de que tu relación se mejore . Hablar de la importancia de tener (o el deseo de tener) la amistad, el apoyo, el cariño, el respeto de esa persona en tu vida.


(4) Constatar o decir que tu crees que él o ella NUNCA TE HUBIERA OFENDIDO A PROPOSITO…..y que tú crees que él o ella te hizo lo que hizo sin darse cuenta de la reacción que iba a generar en ti.


(5) Luego, hablar del hecho–del comportamiento en cuestión–sin asignar motivos a la otra persona. Presentar tu caso en términos de como el comportamiento en cuestión te hizo sentir. Por ejemplo: “Cuando tu hiciste o dijiste tal o cual cosa, yo me sentí ofendido, humillado, herido, insultado, dejado de lado, ignorado, etc.” El énfasis esta en “tu reacción al comportamiento” y NUNCA en los motivos de la otra persona.


(6) Proponer otra vez que tu crees que, si ella o él supiera que tu ibas a quedar herido o ofendido, que tu estés seguro de que él o ella no lo hubiera hecho.


(7) Volver a hablar de tu respeto , amor, o admiración por la persona. Si la relación no es muy fuerte o sana en ese momento, mejor hablar de tu DESEO de tener el respeto, amor, o admiración de esa persona.









(a) Tu propósito es ayudar o mejorar la relación y no perder la relación.


(b) Nunca usar un martillo cuando lo que realmente necesitas es unas pinzas. Si la única herramienta en tu caja de herramientas es un martillo, vas a tratar todo problema como si fuera un clavo.


(c) En las palabras de José José “Ya lo pasado pasado, no me interesa”. Mejor no arrastrar eventos del pasado para echar en cima de esta conversación. Hablar del tema del momento.


(d) Acordar siempre las palabras de Jesús: Siempre tratar a otros como tu quieres que ellos te traten a ti.


(e) Cada momento de “corrección” también merece unas palabras de aliento o alabanza.


(f) Siempre pide la ayuda del Espíritu Santo antes de hablar


(g) Siempre recordar tus propias debilidades….y las palabras de Marco Antonio Solís: “Nadie es perfecto y tu lo verás”


(h) Recordar que muchas veces tu valentía en levantar tu voz en honestidad es un momento de crecer profundamente como amigos con la otra persona




NOTA FINAL: Tú tienes que adaptar estas “reglas” a tu propia situación

In the Risen Lord,
Fr. Eddie Gros, Pastor