A Year with the Saints – 3 July


The office of simplicity is to make us go straight to God, without regard to human respect or our own interests. It leads us to tell things candidly and just as they exist in our hearts. It leads us to act simply, without admixture of hypocrisy and artifice – and, finally, keeps us at a distance from every kind of deceit and double-dealing. – Saint Vincent de Paul

This Saint always held it as of the utmost importance to have God as his only object in all he did; neither could he bear that those under his charge should swerve in the least from this aim. When one of them was publicly accused of having done something from human respect, he reprimanded him severely, saying that it would be better to be thrown into the fire with feet and hands tied than to work to please men. Answering a letter from one of his priests, he writes thus: “You write to me that when you speak highly of a certain person in your letters, it would be well for his friends to know it, that he may come to know it too. What thoughts for you to have! Where is the simplicity of a missionary, who ought always look directly to God? If you do not see good in certain persons, do not speak of it; but if you find it, speak of it to honor God in them, since from Him all good proceeds. Our Lord reproved one who called Him good, because he did not call Him so with a good intention. With how much greater reason might you be blamed, if you praise sinful men to please them, and to gain their favor, or for any other earthly and imperfect motive? Remember that duplicity does not please God, and that to be truly simple, we ought to have no aim but Himself.”

As to his own language, it was candid and simple, and so far from all evasion and craftiness that no one could ever fear being deceived by him. He also avoided high-flown compliments, which, as they are usually united with dissimulation, are not in conformity with the rules of Christian simplicity. Therefore he conversed with all simply and cordially, omitting useless demonstrations, as he desired also that his priests should do.

The venerable Sister Crucifixa possessed most remarkable candor and sincerity, by which she showed her hatred of all dissimulation and duplicity. The slightest untruth never escaped from her lips, either in the way of civility or of jest, although at recreation she would often employ irony or other diverting forms of expression to enliven the conversation.

Saint Charles Borromeo showed plainly that he was full of this holy virtue on several occasions, especially in the election of Pius V as Pope. As his uncle, Pius IV, had always disliked Saint Charles, there was every reason to believe that the nephew would be opposed, or at least not very friendly, to him so that he might be taxed with want of prudence in giving power that would be likely to be used for his own ruin. Nevertheless, having before his eyes only the glory of God and the greater good of the Church and paying no regard to his private interests, he brought about his election. But God took care of him and caused him to be much favored and esteemed by Pius V. In his speech, Saint Charles was extremely candid and utterly opposed to all artifice and duplicity, and he wished those of his household to be the same, as he once said to one of them who, in talking of a certain affair, allowed these words to escape him: “I will tell you sincerely what I think about it.” The Saint interrupted him quickly, saying: “Then you do not always speak sincerely! Now, be sure that he cannot be my friend, who does not speak always with sincerity, and say with his lips what he means in his heart.”

MLA Citation