Last year I wrote a post arguing for a link between civility and truth; the reason we should speak with civility in the blogosphere or anywhere else is because doing so helps us to find the truth. Understanding this connection helps us to spot those rare occasions in which a false civility actually stands in the way of the truth.
After observing some of the contentious turns discussion on Whosoever Desires has taken this month, I thought a return to this theme might be in order. St. Ignatius had a few thoughts on the subject, many of which are as useful today as they were 400 years ago.
First, a bit of background. Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises are a manual for giving retreats, which the saint composed over many years based on his experiences of prayer and spiritual conversation. The first part of the manual contains “annotations” or instructions for the person conducting the retreat. “Annotation 22” is one of the best known; in fact, it’s quoted in the Catechism (#2478)—which suggests that its implications for Christian life go well beyond retreats.