Father Guibert explains that false piety, “because of its sincerity and perseverance, offers the continued spectacle of a superficial, barren and impotent religion, which fritters away the soul by mechanical routine and lifeless exercises. Thus it is that, in spite of their good intentions, some of the devout, through their misinterpretation of a life of devotion, convince the world that piety, far from having the promise of the life that now is, depreciates men and sterilizes them in every way, and makes them incapable of fulfilling their destiny.”
“As long as the world sees no difference between those who pray and those who do not pray at all, it cannot help being sceptical about the real bearing of piety. If it perceives some souls cramped and lessened by a pretence of piety, or others sheltering weaknesses, which they dare not acknowledge, under the cloak of religion, it is easy to understand that they are tempted to speak against it. But, whenever piety manifests itself to men as being an evident cause of the noblest feelings, of self-sacrifice generously accepted, of work courageously undertaken, of suffering patiently endured, of devotion that is entirely disinterested, they will then understand the full value of introducing real piety into one’s life, and how important it is to rely upon religion in order to attain moral elevation.”
“How great, then, is the responsibility incurred by the devout, when, by carelessness, they bring piety down to the level of worthless formalism, and cause it to be despised by those unacquainted with it, who, when they look for it in them, find only a miserable caricature of it. On the other hand, what a grand apostolate their life would afford, if they offered the world the encouraging spectacle of a piety that was practical, a piety that lit up human life with sanctity and the power of God! Through the evidence of the practical effects of true piety, the world would recognize the potency of its moral action; and, thenceforward, would begin to hold it in esteem. From esteem to the desire for its possession, the distance is but short.”
Quotations from Jean Guibert, On Piety (London: R. & T. Washbourne, Ltd., 1911).