21 July 2007

On the Virtue of Gentleness

In Thursday's Gospel we heard Jesus invite us to imitate him who is "meek and humble of heart." And in today's Gospel we hear the words of prophet Isaiah describe the promised Messiah as one who will carry out his mission in gentleness: "He will not contend or cry out, / nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets. / A bruised reed he will not break, / a smoldering wick he will not quench . . ."
It is quite possible to be generous and self-sacrificing without being kind and gentle. St. Francis de Sales had a great deal to say about even-tempered gentleness and the importance of practicing all virtues in a spirit of gentleness and kindness. In a letter to one of our early Mothers, he wrote the following, which serves as a "gentle reminder" to all of us!

"Almost everyone finds some virtues easy to practice and others harder, and everyone extols the virtue which they find easy and tried to exaggerate the difficulty of the others. . . . An even temper, gentleness and sweetness are more rare than perfect chastity but no less desirable for that. I command these virtues to you, my very dear daughter, because the flame of good example depends on them as on oil in lamp; nothing edifies others more than a loving good temper."

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