A Year with the Saints – 17 February


I am despised and derided, and I resent it; just so do peacocks and apes. I am despised and derided, and I rejoice at it; thus did the Apostle. This is the deepest grade of humility, to be pleased with humiliation and abjection, as vain minds are pleased with great honors; and to find pain in marks of honor and esteem, as they find it in contempt and affronts. – Saint Francis de Sales

Saint Dominic remained more willingly in the diocese of Carcassone than in that of Toulouse, where he had converted so many heretics. On being asked his reason, he replied that in the latter he received many honors, but in the former only injuries and insults.

Saint Felix the Capuchin experienced great affliction in seeing himself honored and esteemed; and he was often heard to say that he would have been glad to be frightfully deformed, that all might abhor him. He repeated many times that it would have been more agreeable to him to have been dragged and scourged through the streets of Rome, than to have been reverenced by the people.

Saint Constantius, when he had taken minor orders, served in a church near Ancona, where he lived so much apart from the world that he had a widespread reputation for sanctity, and people came from different countries to see him. Among others came a peasant, and inquired for him. The Saint was standing upon a ladder, trimming the lamps; but as he was of a small and delicate figure, the peasant, on looking at him, was sorry that he had made the journey, as it seemed to him for nothing, and ridiculing him in his heart, said to himself, but aloud: “I supposed this would be a great man; but for anything that I can see, he has not even the shape of a man.” Constantius, hearing this, instantly left the lamp, and coming down with great haste and gladness, ran up to the rustic and embraced him, saying, “You, alone, out of so many, have your eyes open and have been able to recognize me as I am.”

The venerable Sister Maria Crucifixa disliked nothing so much as to hear herself praised, so that when she found others had a good opinion of her, she could not refrain from weeping. She was most unwilling that her supernatural favors should come to the knowledge of others. Therefore when she had ecstasies, the nuns all left her at the first sign of returning to herself, to avoid wounding her feelings. Only her own sister remained with her, who gave her to understand that she looked upon these trances only as fainting fits, caused by weakness, for which she pitied her and offered her remedies. But all this was not enough; so great was her abhorrence of self-esteem, that she believed the love of God to be inseparable from the plausible conceit of being considered a Saint. She, therefore, went so far as to make this prayer: “O Lord! I wish to obey Thee; I wish, at Thy touch, to spring up towards Heaven; but Thy way harbors a horrible monster, human esteem, which is for me an insufferable danger; for no one can love Thee without gaining high reputation. I would wish to walk always in Thy way, and this alone is bitter to me, nor do 1 find any obstacles interposed by Hell but this. So I remain here waiting until Thou shalt either slay this monster, or change my path.”

MLA Citation