To read Cynthia Bourgeault’s reanimating introduction to a re-printing of Mysterium Mortis (1965) by former Jesuit theologian Ladislaus Boros is sobering. How many of the Church’s brilliant theologians are out-of-print or scarcely read today? Boros produced fifteen books in German translated into English that are in the natural course of some things consigned to yesterday’s good news, among them Living in Hope, Hidden God, and The Cosmic Christ.
With a synodal church freshly proposed for our attentions, Boros’ reflections on speaking to one another are still worth pondering: “The apostle Paul […] exhorted his friends in Ephesus to speak the truth in love. The Greek expression aletheúein en agápe (Eph. 4. 15) is almost untranslatable. It means more or less ‘truth oneself out — sich auswahr-heiten (say, do and be the truth), but in love.’ We are tempted all too often to say things at the wrong moment, [which might] injure others by the truth, or even do them harm. Thus, truthfulness towards one’s neighbor must be supported by tact and goodness. We cannot use truthfulness as a stick. In continual self-examination, […] an inner truth emerges [in us] to which we can give no other name but humility. Precisely to the extent that a person tries to ‘be truth’ for others, they recognize that they themselves are not equal to the demands they make — apparently only for others. Through this [personal tension] they learn modesty. They start to be patient with themselves and others; they let the fruit of the truth ripen quietly. This gives strength to their life [as they continually recognize] the tension within themselves between what they would like to have, and what they really have; between what they ought to do, and what they are able to do; between what they want to be and what they really are. From [these experiences of inner] tension there grows patience with others, which is not a cowardly giving in, but a genuine forbearance and kindness” (Meeting God in Man, 1968: pp. 22-23).
In our dialogues to discern the Truth, modesty involves the realization that we are always only aspirants in living the truth we can articulate. Humility inspires mutual respect for one another’s words. An inner spirit of compassion allows mutual confession of our failures to live honestly.
Come down then, O Love Divine, and filter your truth through our humbly stuttering mouths. Remind us that true words blossom only in a falteringly right desire to speak in truth. Send us more prophets who intimately know and witness to their inner turmoil when you inspire them, indeed command them, to walk Your talk.
By Jonathan Montaldo