Folks who Frequently Find Fault

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Turn to any page of the Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska and you find spiritual gems. Like this one:

"I learned that certain people have a special gift for vexing others. They try you as best they can. The poor soul that falls into their hands can do nothing right; her best efforts are maliciously criticized" (182)

In this section of the Diary, as St. Faustina cleans, she's followed around by a sister who keeps criticizing her work. Though St. Faustina more than doubles her efforts to try to keep the peace, this eccentric sister complains to the mother directress, accusing St. Faustina of being lazy. "My whole day's martyrdom was not enough for her," St. Faustina said (Diary, 181).

Sometimes, no matter what we do for a particular person, we can never satisfy them.

Why?

The type of person St. Faustina describes, deeply wounded inside, projects their own dissatisfaction with themselves onto other people.

All of us do this at times. When we're tired, hungry, or uncomfortable, we tend to find fault more easily with others. We snap at the waiter, we lean on the horn in traffic, we criticize our loved ones' faults - we focus on what's wrong. Our negative feelings inform what we say.

In these moments, pointing out what's wrong gives us a sense of relief. While many of us, when we are over critical, apologize for it later, some, like the sister St. Faustina encounters, live just about all their lives in this mindset, constantly pointing out the faults of others while excusing or ignoring their own imperfections.

When we encounter these sorts of people, we run the risk of interpreting their consistently negative attitude as a reflection of our own faults and failures. Saint Faustina, though, being grounded in the truth, recognized the irrationality of this critical sister and did not let the grief of working with such a person overwhelm her. Though engaging with this critical sister still caused her stress, she did not take her frustration out on her. Instead, St. Faustina turned to Jesus saying, "Jesus, one can be a silent martyr; it is not the work that wears you out, but this kind of martyrdom" (Diary, 181). In other words, St. Faustina recognized this encounter as a sort of martyrdom that she could offer up for souls.

Of course, sometimes it's appropriate to criticize someone else's actions. However, we should always do so out of a sense of compassion for the other person. If we find ourselves taking pleasure in criticizing others, we might just be like the sister St. Faustina encountered.

My prayer: Jesus, please give me the grace not to take pleasure in the faults of others. Help me to have a healthy understanding of my own faults and failures, and a proper appreciation of the abundant mercy You show me and all people. Please fill me with the patience to treat everyone I meet with compassion and respect.

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