A Year with the Saints – 22 November

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To have that love for our neighbor which is commanded by the Lord, we must entertain good and amiable feelings towards him, especially when he is disagreeable and annoying to us on account of any defect, natural or moral; for then we find nothing in him to love, except in God. The maxim of the Saints was that in performing works of charity and kindness, we ought to consider not the person who receives them, but Him for whose sake they are done. Nor let us be discouraged if we sometimes feel repugnance; for an ounce of this solid and reasonable love is of much greater value than any amount of that tender and sensitive love which we share with the animals, and which often deceives and betrays our reason. – Saint Francis de Sales

Saint Jane Frances de Chantal possessed this love in abundance, for as we read in her Life, she never lost an opportunity of showing it for anyone, whatever faults and deficiencies she might observe in him. She often exhorted her Sisters to do the same, saying to them: “We ought to bear with our neighbors, miserable and ill-conditioned though they may be, even in their follies and trivialities, supporting their tediousness and those little vexations which do no harm beyond wearying us; their want of harmony, too, their weakness, and thoughtlessness occasioned by their deficient knowledge, and all those defects which only regard the person who suffers from them. It is certainly necessary to suffer something, and if our neighbor had no defects and gave us no trouble, how could we have occasion to bear with him?” Having heard that one of her Religious found it very difficult to bear with the imperfections of another, she wrote thus to her: “My daughter, often consider how it is said in the Gospel that Jesus Christ loved us, and washed us in His Blood, and observe that He did not wait to love us until after we were washed from our impurities; but He loved us when we were vile and impure creatures, and then washed us. Let us, then, love this dear neighbor of ours without examination, though he be poor and ill-conditioned, and whatever he may be. And if it were possible to wash away his imperfections with our blood, we should desire to give even the last drop of it for this purpose.”

The venerable Sister Maria Crucifixa loved all her neighbors, but she showed special kindness for those who were of an unhappy disposition or who exhibited any dislike to her. Once she was much disobliged by a person in minor orders, who, as she afterwards heard, could not receive ordination because he had not sufficient fortune. She thereupon prevailed upon his mother, who was a duchess, to make a settlement of this requisite amount of property upon him.

MLA Citation