Rorate Caeli

“Salesianizing” the Traditional Catholic Movement:
The Honey of Humility and Kindness

Saint Francis de Sales

To attract souls to Catholic Tradition it is necessary that those soldiers within the “traditional movement”  increase their efforts to imitate the apostolic style of Saint Francis de Sales based on humility towards God and on kindness towards one’s neighbor.

Unfortunately, there are not just a few traditionalists who exhibit behavior that is harsh, acidic and severe, which drives away souls from the Tradition.  For example,  it was recounted to me that some nuns attached to the Tridentine Mass were very critical of conversations of their ex-prioress, because she showed a merciful attitude when she spoke with sinners.  True mercy is not that of the Modernists, those who justify sinful acts, but rather that of those true followers of Jesus Christ, like Saint Francis de Sales and Saint Leopold Mandic, who with sweet kindness managed to convince souls to end their attachments to sin and to be reconciled to God. If they had used harsh ways of dealing with these souls in an uncharitable way, they would have had great difficulty in converting them.

The spirit of kindness comes from God himself.  The soul that loves God loves as well all who are loved by God.  And so he gladly seeks out all those who need succor, consolation, and uplift, as far as it is possible.  Saint Francis de Sales says:  “Gentle humility is the virtue of virtues that God commended to us so much; because we need to practice it always and everywhere.”

This kindness needs to be put into practice especially with the poor, those who ordinarily, because they are poor, are treated harshly by men.  It needs to be put into practice also with those who are sick, those who are afflicted with infirmities and are for the most part not much helped by others.  In a special way this kindness must be put into practice in encounters with our enemies.  “Overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21).  Hatred must be conquered by love, and persecution with kindness.  This is what the saints have always done.  There is nothing that edifies a neighbor more than treating him with truly charitable kindness.  The saints continually had a smile on their lips, and their face breathed kindness in their words and actions. 

The Superior should use as much kindness as possible with those entrusted to him.  Saint Vincent de Paul used to say that there is no better way to be obeyed that by using kindness.  Even in pointing out defects, the Superior should use kind words. One way of reprimanding someone is to do so forcefully; the other way is to reprimand with harshness.  There are times when one has to forcefully reprimand someone, when the sin is grave and especially when the sin is habitual. But one must avoid reprimanding with harshness and anger, because whoever reprimands with anger does more harm then good.   If ever in a rare case it may be necessary to use some harsh language to make the person understand the gravity of his sin, in the end it is necessary to leave him with “a sweet mouth”, with some words of kindness.  And when it happens that the person who has to be corrected gets angry, one has to stop the conversation for a moment and wait for the person’s anger to subside.  Otherwise he will become more and more irritated and offended.

Oh, how much more can we achieve with kindness than with bitterness! Affability, love and humility: these are what captures the hearts of men.

[Source: Cordialiter, in Italian. Rorate translation - please mention if quoting.]