A Year with the Saints – 19 February


Whoever is humble, on being humiliated, humbles himself the more; on being rejected, rejoices in the disgrace; on being placed in low and mean occupations, acknowledges himself to be more honored than he deserves, and performs them willingly; and only abhors and avoids exalted and honorable offices. – Saint Jane Frances de Chantal

A young knight, in a transport of boyish rage, once told Saint Vincent de Paul that he was an old fool. Thereupon, the Saint instantly threw himself at his feet and asked pardon for the occasion he had perhaps given him to use such words. A Jansenist, who had tried to instill his false doctrines into the same Saint, at last grew angry at his failure and loaded him with abuse, saying, among other things, that he was an ignorant fellow, and he was astonished that his Congregation could endure him as Superior General. To which he replied: “I am still more astonished at it myself, for I am more ignorant than you can possibly imagine.” Some monks who had heard of the great fame of the Abbot Agatho resolved to test his virtue. Accordingly, they went to him and said that many were disedified by him, because he was proud, sensual, given to complaint, and, moreover, covered his own defects by laying them to others. He replied that he indeed had all these vices, and prostrate at their feet, he entreated them to recommend him to God and obtain for him the pardon of so many sins. They departed with great astonishment and edification.

When the Abbot Moses was ordained priest, his bishop ordered the clergy to drive him contemptuously away when he should approach the altar, and to listen to what he would say. They did so, saying to him, “Go away, wicked heathen!”

But he humbly withdrew, saying to himself: “This is suitable for thee, wicked wretch, who, though unworthy to be called a man, hast presumed to dwell among men!”

On account of the singularity of her life, Saint Rose of Lima was often reproached and abused by her mother and brothers. But so great was her humility that she always thought she deserved worse treatment, and therefore never even excused herself, but rather amplified and added to what she had done, that they might not seem to be wrong in punishing her; and all this afforded her the greatest happiness.

Saint Mary Magdalen de’ Pazzi willingly occupied herself in laborious tasks; and the lower and meaner they were, with the more pleasure and readiness did she accomplish them. The same thing was done by Saint Aloysius Gonzaga.

What efforts were made by many great men, especially in the ecclesiastical state, to avoid being raised to lofty positions! Saint Philip Benizi, hearing that the cardinals, immediately after the death of the Pope, wished to elect him as his successor, concealed himself on a mountain until the election of another had taken place.

Saint Gregory the Great, after being elected Supreme Pontiff, escaped by stealth and hid himself in a grotto. After being discovered there, by means of a column of fire which appeared above the cave, he was forced to accept the dignity; but he still entreated the Emperor Maurice, though without success, not to confirm his election. Saint Ambrose, being miraculously chosen Bishop of Milan by the mouth of an infant too young to speak, fled from his house by night, and even did many things to make the people believe him a man of evil life.

Saint John Chrysostom, to avoid being made a bishop, fled into the solitude of the deserts; and Saint Amonius the hermit, to escape being made a priest, went so far as to cut off one of his ears.

MLA Citation