A Year with the Saints – 26 July


If one happens to forget anything he ought to do, he should tell his fault candidly; and if he is asked about anything which he does not know or does not possess, he should openly confess his ignorance or poverty, leaving evasions to the prudent of this world. – Saint Vincent de Paul

It was in this manner that he acted himself. He sometimes happened to forget to do something that he had promised, and he then confessed his failure openly. He was many times asked for favors, even by persons of rank, which he did not consider it right to grant, and he told them with equal sincerity and respect that he could not oblige them. He was also sometimes thanked by persons for benefits which they were mistaken in supposing that he had conferred upon them. In such cases, he frankly avowed that he had nothing to do with these kindnesses. He was, then, wholly opposed to craft and dissimulation, and said that he had always prospered in telling things as they were, because God had blessed him in it.

In the same way, Saint Charles Borromeo never flattered people with fine words, such as are used in courts, but when asked for an opinion, for advice or for any favor, simply stated his thoughts and intentions and never made a promise which he did not consider it advisable to fulfill. On the contrary he refused frankly, but at the same time gave his reasons for the satisfaction of the person he was obliged to disappoint. In this manner he treated people of all ranks, so that his word was trusted more than most men’s bond, and the greatest personages came to ask his advice in grave and difficult affairs.

When a certain book, written by Fenelon, Archbishop of Cambray, was condemned in Rome by Pope Innocent XII, no sooner did the good prelate receive the condemnatory brief than, by an act of singular submission to the Supreme Pontiff, he not only read it publicly from his own archiepiscopal pulpit, but himself condemned and renounced his own propositions and forbade his people (who tenderly loved him, and who were weeping profusely) to read the book in the future, or to keep it in their houses.

MLA Citation