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Responsibility to Sometimes, if Need Be, Say No

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Today, I'm hearing a lot more about people having mentors, advisers or therapists who enrich our lives. And I'm glad we have great professionals in these fields to help keep us on the path of purpose, fulfillment and success. They have tremendous responsibility and they hold a significant position in our society. Their professions require many years of study and practice to attain the professional skills and experience required to do this work kindly and with love. I have learned that no one wants to be told that they are on the wrong path, or that they are making choices that might harm them later. However true, the person who sometimes says no to us may be the one who loves us the most; they are the ones who go out of their way to warn us as best they can, perhaps in a similar way to how our own parents may have done so. This means it's important for anyone in this advisory role to communicate clearly and in a heart-felt manner in all relationships.

There was a time that I didn't feel comfortable conversing with people who were supposedly street-smart because when problems came up and I offered another perspective, I'd find myself cut off whenever I suggested where the Truth might be. And yet I observed that often kind helpers failed to point out how certain choices could be harmful to the individual in question or to someone else; there were no consequences brought up regarding those who could be affected by these individual's actions or choices.

I've already seen too many lives damaged by "helpers" who didn't take the time to listen, rethink or look at the whole picture of those they were advising. In some cases, these advisors were simply being nice. I wonder how long we must reflect on our conflicts before we realize that they can be our greatest blessing if they lead us to greater knowledge of the Truth. Most of us know the difference between right and wrong. It's inborn in us and we need to learn to trust that small voice in our hearts and let it gently light our way in the most loving way; this will allow another to be able to hear what's best by opening their own heart for the benefit of everyone, not just for themselves. That is God's answer for them. And we must pray to be able to hear that advice.

I want to highlight the message below, originally published in the National Catholic Register on April 27, 2010, which is a powerful message that needs to be repeated with genuine love and truth about of our responsibility and that we're all in this together:

Charity in Truth, writes Buttiglione, sums up the central theme of Benedict's pontificate:

The world of today wants a Christianity that is kind to everybody and is ready to take at face value whatever everybody wishes in terms of their fulfillment, the meaning of their life. It wants a Christianity that is ready to help everybody to reach their goals. But what they do not want is the Church to have an idea about the truth of man. They don't want the Church to say to a drug addict: 'Don't do that; you're destroying your life. This is wrong.' They want a love without truth.

The message of Benedict XVI is that true love is a passionate interest in another; a passionate interest that is aimed at the true happiness, true fulfillment of each individual human being. If you really love someone and see that he is destroying himself, you have not only the right but the duty to tell him he is doing wrong. And if you do not try to explain to him why it is wrong, if you don't want to enter into a confrontation with him in order to convince him to save his own life, then you don't really love him. This is the proper meaning of the word authority. Authority means you take responsibility to sometimes, if need be, say no. Our society suffers from a lack of authority. Parents do not feel authorized to say no anymore. And by the way, they don't even know on which occasions they should say no because there is the idea that there is no objective truth.

Catherine Nagle grew up in Philadelphia with 16 brothers and sisters, reared by loving, old-school Italian parents. Catherine's artist father's works graced locations from churches to public buildings; her mother was a full-time homemaker. A professional hairdresser, Catherine worked in various salons while studying the Bible and pursuing spiritual growth through courses, seminars, lectures and inspirational books, including A Course in Miracles and the works of Marianne Williamson among many others. The mother of two children and a grandmother, Catherine lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and son. She is the author of Imprinted Wisdom.