“See, judge, act”, a spiritual intuition to rediscover

Sophie de Villeneuve: “See, judge, act”: is this somewhat forgotten instruction from Catholic Action still relevant today?

Raphael Buyse: It is still current. It is even one of the spiritual pearls of our Church, in the same way as the Rule of Saint Benedict, the great intuitions of Saint Francis of Assisi or the beautiful spiritualities of the French School in the 17th century… The spirituality of “Seeing, to judge, to act” expresses a profound respect for everyday life and the well-established conviction that God has confidence in man. God is not a distant figure who deigns to come to our aid from time to time. On the contrary, he entrusts us with our destiny, he invites us to be agents of change in the world.

Why does this intuition seem forgotten today?

RB: Perhaps it appeared at certain times as a kind of watchword. Perhaps it was also too closely associated with the organization of such and such a movement, whereas it is addressed to everyone. It first invites us to contemplate reality as it is, without dreaming or imagining it, not to live in the past or by projecting ourselves into the future, but to open our eyes to the world and to our lives as they are, with great honesty. We have to look at reality with the same gaze as God, a gaze of hope. This applies to all levels of our reality, societal, family, ecclesial, professional…

We are then invited to judge…

RB: When we talk about judgment, we often think of a moral assessment. Here, we could just as well speak of a discernment based on the reminder of our finality: for what are we created? We are made to live, to unfold, to be free. In the life that I lead, in the world in which I live, can this purpose be implemented? If this is not the case, I can seek to change paths, make other projects, get back on the road by freeing myself from what is hindering my path of humanity.

Finally comes the time for action…

RB: Yes, and that says both the greatness of God and the greatness of man. Greatness of man considered responsible, greatness of God who trusts in man. The motto “See, judge, act” honors this God who does not want to do everything in place of man. The story of the Ascension in the New Testament says that the disciples, gathered on the Mount of Olives, saw Jesus disappear, then heard a voice say to them: “But why do you stand there looking at the sky? This is clearly an invitation to set out, and this is the meaning of “act”: it is not a question of keeping our eyes fixed on the sky while waiting for the Lord to come and change our world, our history. or our life, it is a question, with others, of taking life in hand. This perspective speaks of a God who does not do violence to man but who believes in him and in his freedom.

Is it a God who still pushes us to act?

RB: It is a God who pushes us to take our responsibilities. Not because Christians would have all the solutions for the world to get better, but because they are invited, in fidelity to the Lord, to live side by side with the men and women of their time, and not in a closed self. After having contemplated the world and discerned the possibilities, it is a question with others, in dialogue, in solidarity, in cooperation, of trying to transform not only the hearts, but also the structures of the world. We live in a crazy world. Christians, in the name of their faith, have things to say. To commit oneself, in the name of one’s faith in Jesus, to the construction of the world and of society in a spirit of dialogue and not of exclusion, that is what is evangelizing.

Does the wisdom of God that you talk about in your book come through this intuition of “See, judge, act”?

RB: It reveals itself there by leading us out of impasses. Very often, when something happens to us, we tend to shut down or resign ourselves, which is madness. The wisdom of God takes us out of this confinement and puts us back on the road. The spiritual intuition of “Seeing, judging, acting” gets us out of the humdrum, out of our habits, out of the “what’s the point” which is a very widespread disease today. God’s wisdom flows through our view of the world, our shared search with others, and our decision to act.

“See, judge, act”, a spiritual intuition to rediscover