A Year with the Saints – 14 July


That we may not be deceived by self-love, in considering matters that concern us, we ought to look at them as if they belonged to others, and our only business with them was to give our judgment – not from interest, but in the cause of truth; and in the same way we should look on others’ affairs as our own. – Saint Ignatius Loyola

Seleucus, King of the Locrians, acted on this principle when, after his son had committed a crime which by the laws of the kingdom was punishable by the loss of both eyes, he immediately condemned him, as if he had been an ordinary subject. Nor can this be considered an act of thoughtlessness or cruelty, or a proof that Seleucus had lost the feelings of a father; for he showed his sensibility to his son’s unhappy condition by his readiness to share the penalty with him, commanding that one of his own eyes should be put out, and one of his son’s.

In the Lives of the Fathers it is narrated that a person asked a holy abbot how he ought to act when, in regulating the conduct or affairs of others, he was in doubt whether he should say or do certain things. The Saint replied: “Before saying or doing those things, reflect as to what your own feelings would be if someone else should say or do them to you. And if you find that you would feel displeasure or resentment, use that same moderation and charity which you would desire to have practiced towards you. In such cases this is my rule.”

It was the usual custom of Saint Vincent de Paul to regard his own interests as if they belonged to others, and those of others as his own, as may be seen in various incidents of his life. It will be sufficient to mention two. Some of his relatives, who had been summoned before a high tribunal on a grave charge, asked him for letters which might exert an influence in their favor. But he, through zeal for justice, would not interfere in the matter. On the other hand, when some of his friends wished to interceed with the judges on their behalf, he entreated them not to expose themselves to the danger of hindering the course of justice, but rather to wait until their innocence was made certain – just as he would have done in any other similar case. In the conferences which he had with members of his Congregation, when any business affecting others was under consideration, he would often say: “Let us keep our eyes open to others’ interests as to our own, and let us take care to deal uprightly and honorably with all.” Here surely was a man who did not allow himself to be carried away by natural inclinations, either in his own affairs or those of others!

MLA Citation