I was still sorting it all out when providential encouragement came in Saturday's mail, in the form of a local crisis pregnancy center's newsletter. It contained excerpts from a speech that our beloved Bishop Thomas Olmsted had recently delivered at a pro-life luncheon. Anyone who knows Bishop Olmsted knows that he is a gentle, kind and holy soul. Not loud, bombastic or combative, but joyful, peaceful and caring. I daresay he is one of the "nicest" men you'll ever meet. In his own words:
Do not be "nice"; instead, tell the tough truths. At no place in the Sacred Scriptures does it say: Be nice! However, popular portrayals of Christianity would lead us to think that the first and greatest commandment is niceness.
The English word "nice" comes from the Latin word "nescius" --meaning "ignorant, knowing nothing." In English usage of the 13th century, "nice" meant "foolish, stupid, senseless." Today, it means hurting no one's feelings, without regard to what is true or good or right. Garrison Keillor said, You taught me to be nice, so nice that now I am so full of niceness, I have no sense of right and wrong, no outrage, no passion.
St. Paul writes to Timothy (2 Tim 4:2-4), Proclaim the word; be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient; convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching. For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine, but, following their own desires and insatiable curiosity, will accumulate teachers and will stop listening to the truth and will be diverted to myths....
John Paul II wrote in Evangelium Vitae (#58): The acceptance of abortion in the popular mind and even in law itself, is a telling sign of an extremely dangerous crisis of the moral sense, which is becoming more and more incapable of distinguishing between good and evil, even when the fundamental right to life is at stake. Given such a grave situation, we need now more than ever to have the courage to look the truth in the eye and to call things by their proper name, without yielding to convenient compromises or to the temptation of self-deception.
....So what to do? Should we not recall Jesus' charge: Remember, I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. He knows what He is doing.
....Love our enemies. Love is not "nice." Love is kind; it is patient; love does not rejoice in what is wrong, but rejoices in the truth.... Love is best illustrated by Jesus on the Cross, where He forgave those who put Him to death, where He died so that we sinners might have forgiveness and new life. Love is not cowardly but it is fair, while relentlessly opposing all threats to the dignity of human life.
....So, do not be "nice"; be kind and tell the truth. Love your wives, your husbands, your children. Love your enemies. Do not be discouraged.It was not till tonight that I realized (duh!) that the word "discourage" has "courage" as its root. We need courage to counteract our dis-courage-ment. And courage just might be the virtue most lacking today among Christians.
About a year ago, Danya approached Bishop Olmsted and asked him how we Catholics can best dialogue about the contentious, unpopular and controversial teachings of the Church, especially when we know we will be met with mockery, hostility and personal attacks. This meek and humble man responded that at those times, we must set aside our own fears, anxieties and dread, and we must simply speak the truth.