Piety Engenders Love of Neighbour

Father Guibert writes: “Where the love of God rules, there, too, rules the love of our neighbour: ‘By this shall all men know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another’ (Jn 13:35). And St. John, commenting on this word of the Master, says in turn: ‘If any man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar. For he that loveth not his brother, whom he seeth, how can he love God, whom he seeth not? And this commandment we have from God, that he, who loveth God, love also his brother.’ (1 Jn 4:20-21) It seems as if God would not accept an abstract love on our part; He only considers real and puts down to our credit the concrete love that we yield to Him in the persons of our brethren. Furthermore, He does not want us to put on merely an appearance of love, and merely to imitate its generous promptings; He wishes this love to be real. . . . Ostentatious piety, which is lacking in depth, does not inspire real love, but only produces imitations of it, whereas true piety, that stirs the heart to its depths, makes true love spring up in it.”

“There are pious hearts, like that of St. Vincent de Paul, which are moved by the distress of others, which gather cast-off children, which protect innocence, which visit the sick and clothe the naked, which provide work or bread for those who are dying of hunger, and which extend the hand of sympathy to all who are weak. When I see hearts untouched by the sufferings of others, and which pass by in indifference or even turn away from those in rags, I say that true piety has never imbued them.”

“There are pious hearts, like that of St. Francis of Sales, belonging to those who, with a smile on their lips, and with benevolence within, fill those who have recourse to them with peace and joy. . . . There is no true piety in those whose sullen mien and arid speech breathe selfishness and strike cold into the soul.”

“Those, too, have pious hearts, who, by their friendliness offer a warm and sure shelter to the discouraged or disillusioned, to repentant prodigals and the wounded in life’s battle, and to those whose steps are beginning to be insecure. ‘He that hath found a friend, hath found a treasure’ (Sir 6:14), says Holy Scripture. And a human heart becomes this inestimable treasure when it is permeated through and through by piety.”

Quotations from Jean Guibert, On Piety (London: R. & T. Washbourne, Ltd., 1911).

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