A Year with the Saints – 1 May


Meekness and mildness of heart is a virtue rarer than chastity, and yet it is more excellent than that and all other virtues, for it is the end of charity, which, as Saint Bernard says, is in its perfection when we are not only patient, but also kind. It is necessary, however, to have a great esteem for this virtue, and to use every effort to acquire it. – Saint Francis de Sales

Saint Francis de Sales himself had the very highest regard for this virtue. He spoke of it so frequently and with so much love, as to show clearly it was his chosen one among all. So, though he excelled in all the virtues, he was singular and remarkable in this. He always wore a serene countenance, and there was a special grace upon his lips, so that he generally appeared to be smiling, and his face breathed a sweetness which charmed everyone. Though he usually showed great recollection, he sometimes thought it desirable to give proof of amiability, and then he consoled all who met him, and won the love and regard of whoever looked upon him. His words, gestures and actions were never without great suavity and gentleness, so that it seemed that this virtue had taken in him the form of man, and that he was rather meekness itself than a man endowed with that quality. He, too, justly merited the praise bestowed by the Holy Spirit upon Moses, “that he was the meekest man of his time upon earth.” And so Saint Jane Frances de Chantal was able to say that there was never known a heart so sweet, so gentle, so kind, so gracious and affable, as his. Saint Vincent de Paul expressed the same sentiment, saying that he was the kindest man he had ever known, and the first time he saw him, he noticed in the serenity of his countenance and in his manner of conversing such a close resemblance to the meekness of Christ our Lord as instantly won his heart.

The same may be said of Saint Vincent de Paul. He was of a bilious, sanguine temperament and, consequently, much inclined to anger, as he himself admitted to a friend, saying that when he was in the house of Conde, he allowed himself to be conquered more than once by his disposition to melancholy and to fits of passion. But having seen that God called him to live in community, and that in such a state he would have to deal with people of every variety of nature and disposition, he had recourse to God, and earnestly prayed Him to change his harsh and unyielding temper into gentleness and benignity; and then he began with a firm purpose to repress those ebullitions of nature. By prayer and effort combined, he succeeded in making such a change that he seemed no longer to feel any temptations to anger, and his nature was so altered that it became a source of benignity, serenity of countenance and sweetness of manner, which won for him the affection of all who shared his acquaintance. As a rule, he received all those who went to his house with pleasant words, full of respect and esteem, by which he showed his regard for them and his pleasure in seeing them. This he did with all, with the poor as well as those of high rank, adapting himself always to the position of each.

MLA Citation