A Year with the Saints – 13 May


Whoever has the charge of others ought not hesitate to resist and correct the vices of those who depend on him, or even to oppose their sentiments when need requires it – always, however, with mildness and peace, especially when he has to enunciate any truths difficult to receive. Such truths must first be heated by a burning fire of charity, which will take away all their sharpness; otherwise, they will be sour fruit, better calculated to cause disease than to give nourishment. Nothing is more bitter than walnut bark when it is green; but when made into a preserve, it is very sweet and exceedingly wholesome. So reproof, which is very bitter in its nature, heated at the fire of charity and sweetened by amiability, becomes itself pleasing and delicious. And when truth uttered by the tongue is destitute of sweetness, it is a sign that the heart is wanting in true charity. – Saint Francis de Sales

When Father Lambert of the Congregation of the Mission was obliged to administer correction to his inferiors, he accompanied it with great sweetness, and never exaggerated their faults. He even overlooked them as far as he could, sometimes when committed in his presence. The venerable Cardinal Bellarmine used to act in the same way.

Saint Francis Borgia never let any faults of his subjects pass without correction. When they were slight faults, he never spoke harshly, but would say, “Ah! may God pardon you! May He make you a Saint! Oh, brother, how could you say or do this?” If the fault was grave, he summoned the culprit, corrected him kindly, and when he saw any amendment, dismissed the whole matter. Saint Vincent de Paul, when he was obliged to give correction.

MLA Citation