Messages From Fr. Anthony Smith

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Message/ Reflection  from Fr. Anthony Smith

I’ve been reading Matthew Kelly’s book ‘Rediscover the Saints’.  In one particular chapter he focuses on St Mary Mackillop, a saint who was not afraid to speak her mind. The focus was on recognizing truth in our lives. He begins the chapter with this subtitle; ‘How coachable are you?’ This sentence made me think about my own life and ask that question of myself; ‘how coachable am I?’  Or another way of putting it, ‘how open am I to constructive critiscm and suggestions?’  I don’t think anyone enjoys criticism, but truthfully criticism can make us pause and reflect upon ourselves and even motivate us to make changes in our life.  When someone is honest and straightforward with us, we have an objective view of ourselves and with this view we have the ability to change and make improvements.  ‘Champions love coaching’ Kelly writes. In other words those who aspire to be great in life must be open to some form of coaching.  Coaching requires honesty. If a premier athlete closes themselves off to coaching and correction and even criticism they will fail to improve.

How open am I to criticism? I admit, I struggle with criticism, coaching and uninvited suggestions at times.  This is a form of pride and it is a weakness.  Perhaps that is why this chapter was significant for me.  We sometimes confuse constructive criticism and coaching as an affront to out competence.  Rather we should look at it as an opportunity to grow and improve.  The road to become a champion is paved with our openness to coaching.

Our faith journey requires coaching.  We can sometimes view the lessons we find in scripture and the teaching of the Church difficult to accept. And we find it even more difficult to be on the receiving end of fraternal correction in our lives when it comes to how we live our life. In our culture today we don’t take moral correction well and we sometimes fail to seek spiritual coaching.  We sometimes become an island onto ourselves when it comes to determining our spiritual and moral character. We must ask, ‘what is the purpose of this correction and the lessons we find in our faith?’  The answer is holiness, reaching our full spiritual and moral potential as the person we were created to be.  The Church is called to help the people of God find their full potential as disciples and this requires coaching and, at times, correction.  When we put pride aside and open our heart and minds in humility we can find an opportunity to be the ‘best version of ourselves’ to borrow a term from Kelly. 

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