A Year with the Saints – 21 February


To bear abasement and reproach is the touchstone of humility, and, at the same time, of true virtue. For in this, one becomes conformed to Jesus Christ, Who is the true model of all solid virtues. Saint Francis de Sales

The blessed Seraphino, a Capuchin lay-brother, being gate keeper, was accustomed to pass much time in prayer in a little chapel in the garden, opposite to the gate. One day the Father Guardian, passing that way with a visiting Father, said to his companion, “Would you like to see a Saint?” Then approaching the chapel, he reproved Seraphino severely, saying: “What are you doing here, hypocrite? The Lord teaches us to pray in a room with closed doors, and do you pray in public to be seen? Get up, rascal, and be ashamed of deceiving poor strangers in such a way!” Delighted with these reproofs, Brother Seraphino kissed the ground, and then went away with a countenance as full of satisfaction as if he had just heard some news which was much to his pleasure or advantage. Another day, he was asked by a companion for a needle and a little thread. He replied that he had a needle but no thread; when the other said angrily: “It is plain that you are a fool, and were never good for anything! What can the Order do with such an incapable man as you are? Go away, for I cannot bear to look at you!” Then, without any anger or discomposure, he turned away from the monk who had reproached him, and after a little while came back with his usual serenity of countenance, to the great edification of his fellow religious. In the Lives of the Fathers, we read that Saint Amonius had arrived at such great perfection that he was as insensible to insults as a stone; and no matter how many were inflicted upon him, he never considered that any injury had been done him. In the same Lives, it is related that the Abbot John one day told his disciples the story of a youth, who, for having grievously insulted his master, was condemned to remain for three years in menial employment and to receive all the insults that might be inflicted upon him, without ever avenging himself at all. Returning to his master after this time had expired, he was told that for the next three years he must reward whoever did him an injury. Having faithfully done this, he was sent to Athens to study philosophy. He entered the school of an old master who was accustomed to ill-treat all his scholars at their entrance. He did the same in this case; but the newcomer only laughed, and on being asked the reason of his conduct, he answered: “How can I help laughing, when I have so long paid for ill-usage, and now I find it without paying anything?” “My children,” added the holy Abbot, when he had finished his story, “submission to injuries is the road by which our Fathers have passed to go to the Lord; and difficult as it appears at first, you see that by habit it becomes not only easy, but even pleasant.”

MLA Citation