More From Thich Nhat Hanh: On Longing for Irresistable Grace


Another splendid passage:

from Anger
Thich Nhat Hahn

"Happiness Is Not an Individual Matter"

This does not mean that you have to hide your anger. You have to let the other person know that you are angry and that you suffer. This is very important. When you get angry with someone, please don't pretend that you are not angry. Don't pretend that you don't suffer. If the other person is dear to you, then you have to confess that you are angry, and that you suffer. Tell him or her in a calm way.

In true love, there is no pride. You cannot pretend that you don't suffer. You cannot pretend that you are not angry. This kind of denial is based on pride. "Angry? Me? Why should I be angry? I'm okay." But, in fact, you are not oaky. You are in hell. Anger is burning you up, and you must tell your partner, your son, your daughter. Our tendency is to say, "I don't need you to be happy! I can be on my own!" This is a betrayal of our initial vow to share everything.

Even though Nhat Hanh is a Buddhist, he once again touches gently upon some central Christian themes here. The commentary that follows has little to do with the actual passage, which I find true and meaningful, but with meanings that come from its title and its ramifications in the emotional life of the individual.

The beatific vision does not occur in utter isolation from all other human beings. Nor can we truly be happy on Earth so long as one who is near and dear to us is suffering. We can rejoice in God, but like Mother Theresa, we will work to alleviate the unhappiness. And as we grow in our Christian vocation, more and more of humanity becomes near and dear to us, until, separated from all, we become All and every person is valuable to us.

This is why the matter of hoping for the salvation of all is such a major issue to many of us. The thought of even a single soul not sharing the beatific vision is actually painful. As much as part of us lusts for vengeance and proper treatment of those who have done wrong, as much as part of us longs for justice, another part, perhaps much smaller, longs for mercy. We recognize what wretched people we all are and we pine for the blessing of God's grace and mercy. We hope for this grace for ourselves and as our hearts become more like the Sacred Heart, we long for this same mercy to be received by all souls.

Part of us knows that there are a great many hardened, hurt souls who might possibly refuse this grace and mercy, continually offered, continually showered down upon all. Part of us knows that Pride makes us want to "make it" on our own. But still we hope that grace is ultimately irresistable. Certainly God will not force Himself on any, but perhaps the flow of grace will draw people into it, however unwillingly. I think of the miser in Fraçois Mauriac's marvelous novel Tangle of Vipers and the way that grace eventually works its way upon him.

And I do hope because happiness is not achieved in isolation. Although I suppose if I were the only person in heaven with God, I would be happy in some way but I cannot imagine it. Again, St. Thérèse spoke lightly (but meaningfully) what means more and more to me as time goes on, "I want to spend my heaven doing good on Earth." I begin to know God's hunger for all to return to Him, for there not to be a single soul lost and alone.

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on June 17, 2003 8:14 AM.

Parsing the Counsels of St. John of the Cross III: Consolation was the previous entry in this blog.

Reflections on Silence is the next entry in this blog.

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