A Year with the Saints – 30 March


As to be holy is nothing else than to will what God wills, so to be wise is nothing else than to judge of things as God judges of them. Now, who knows whether thy sentiments be always in conformity with those of God? How many times hast you discovered thyself to be deceived in thy judgments and decisions? – Saint Vincent de Paul

Saint Vincent de Paul excelled in this mortification of his own judgment. He was gifted with so much foresight that he was considered one of the most prudent men of his time; yet he always distrusted himself, and in all his affairs had recourse not only to God, but also to men. He would ask their opinion and follow it rather than his own, as far as justice and charity permitted, even though they had but little talent, or were his inferiors. When he was asked for advice, after raising his mind for a moment to God, he gave it, not setting things arbitrarily, but explaining his views with modesty, and leaving the person to decide for himself. His way of speaking was: “It seems that it might be done so.” “There would be this reason, which seems to lead to such a conclusion,” and if he was urged to decide absolutely, he would say: “It seems to me that it would be well or expedient to do such a thing, to act in such a way.” Besides, he always preferred, and himself suggested, that the opinion of others also should be asked, and was pleased to have it followed rather than his own – not because he did not usually know best, on account of his long experience and the great light he received from God, but purely from love of submission and mortification, and because of his great love of humility, which made him esteem everyone better than himself. At a meeting of the Ladies of Charity, an institution established by him to promote several pious objects, a matron present observed this trait. She informed the servant of God of it very gracefully, at the end of the conference, expressing to him her surprise that he would not support his views, which deserved to be preferred to all the others. “May it never be,” he answered, “that my poor, weak judgment should prevail over that of others! I shall always rejoice to have God work what He will without me, a wretched sinner.” He was so fully persuaded that resolutions taken with mature consideration and the advice of others were pleasing to the Lord, that he rejected as a temptation anything opposed to them which came into his mind. He was accustomed to say that when an affair had been recommended to God and consulted upon with others, we ought to be firm in what we undertake, and believe that God will not impute it to us for a fault, as we can offer this legitimate excuse: “O Lord, I recommended the affair to Thee, and took the advice of others, which was all that could be done to know Thy will.”

MLA Citation