How Kind Words Are Productive

Father Faber explains: “Kind words produce happiness. How often have we ourselves been made happy by kind words, in a manner and to an extent which we are quite unable to explain?” Furthermore, “Happiness is a great power of holiness. Thus, kind words, by their power of producing happiness, have also a power of producing holiness.”

“Words have a power of their own, both for good and evil, which I believe to be more influential and energetic over our fellow-men than even actions. . . . Hence it is that an angry word rankles longer in the heart than an angry gesture.”

The effects of kind words are often like “instantaneous revelations from heaven, not only unravelling complicated misunderstandings, and softening the hardened conviction of years, but giving a divine vocation to the soul. . . . It gives life a peculiar character that it should be gifted with a power so great.”

Saying kind words “involves very little self-sacrifice, and for the most part none at all. It can be exercised generally without much effort, with no more effort than the water makes in flowing from the spring. Moreover, the occasions for it do not lie scattered over life at great distances from each other. They occur continually; they come daily; they are frequent in the day.”

“Kind words cost us nothing, yet how often do we grudge them? On the few occasions when they do imply some degree of self-sacrifice, they almost instantly repay us a hundred-fold. The opportunities are frequent, but we show no eagerness either in looking out for them, or in embracing them. What inference are we to draw from all this? Surely this: That it is next to impossible to be habitually kind, except by the help of Divine grace and upon supernatural motives. Take life all through, its adversity as well as its prosperity, its sickness as well as its health, its loss of its rights as well as its enjoyment of them, and we shall find that no natural sweetness of temper, much less any acquired philosophical equanimity, is equal to the support of a uniform habit of kindness. . . . With the help of grace, the habit of saying kind words is very quickly formed, and when once formed, it is not speedily lost.”

Quotations from Frederick William Faber, Kindness (London: R. & T. Washbourne, 1901).

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Christianity, Faith, Inspiration, Prayer, Religion | Tagged , , ,

How Kind Words Are Remedial

Father Faber demonstrates the power of kind words. First, he shows how they are remedial, then, how they are productive.

“Kind words are the music of the world. They have a power which seems to be beyond natural causes. . . . It seems as if they could almost do what in reality God alone can do—namely, soften the hard and angry hearts of men. Many a friendship, long, loyal and self-sacrificing, rested at first on no thicker a foundation than a kind word. The two men were not likely to be friends. Perhaps each of them regarded the other’s antecedents with somewhat of distrust. They had possibly been set against each other by the circulation of gossip. Or they had been looked upon as rivals, and the success of one was regarded as incompatible with the success of the other. But a kind word, perhaps a mere report of a kind word, has been enough to set all things straight, and to be the commencement of an enduring friendship.”

“The power of kind words is shown also in the destruction of prejudices, however inveterate they may have been. Surely we must all of us have experienced this ourselves. For a long time we have had prejudices against a person. They seem to be extremely well founded. . . . But kind words pass, and the prejudices thaw away. Right or wrong, there was some reason or show of reason for forming them, while there is neither reason nor show of reason for their departure. There is no logic in the matter, but a power which is above logic, the simple, unassisted power of a few kind words.”

“What has been said of prejudices applies equally to quarrels. Kind words will set right things which have got most intricately wrong. . . . Most men get tired of the justest quarrels. Even those quarrels where the quarrel has all been on one side, and which are always the hardest to set right, give way in time to kind words. . . . All quarrels probably rest on misunderstanding, and only live by silence, which, as it were, stereotypes the misunderstanding. A misunderstanding which is more than a month old may generally be regarded as incapable of explanation. Renewed explanations become renewed misunderstandings. Kind words patiently uttered for long together, and without visible fruit, are our only hope. They will succeed; they will not explain what has been misunderstood, but they will do what is much better—make explanation unnecessary, and so avoid the risk which always accompanies explanations of reopening old sores.”

Quotations from Frederick William Faber, Kindness (London: R. & T. Washbourne, 1901).

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Christianity, Faith, Inspiration, Prayer, Religion | Tagged ,

Faith, Confidence, and Perseverance

Father Girardey highlights three characteristics of a good prayer: faith, confidence, and perseverance.

He writes: “Jesus insists on the necessity of faith and confidence in our prayers. . . . Moreover, God defers granting our prayer for our own advantage, because the longer He defers granting us what we pray for, the greater will be the benefits He will add to what we pray for, provided only we persevere faithfully in prayer.”

“The example of St. Monica will serve as a beautiful and convincing illustration of this matter. Monica was a very pious woman and when she found out that her son Augustine, at the age of seventeen years, had been led by bad companions into leading a sinful life, had lost the faith and embraced Manicheism, a most absurd heresy, set herself at once to do all in her power to reclaim him, and to pray earnestly to God for his conversion. But all her efforts and prayers seemed to be in vain. She redoubled her prayers, denied herself all amusements, all delicacies, and performed many penances and austerities, many good works that required great sacrifices on her part; followed him to Milan, and left nothing undone to bring about his conversion. The more she prayed, the more she underwent and suffered, the more holy she became, so that all who came in contact with her, revered her as a saint. For sixteen years she persevered in her efforts and prayers and, at last, Augustine was thoroughly converted, and her prayers were fully granted, and more than this by her efforts and prayers for Augustine, she sanctified herself so that the Church has declared and honors her as one of her great saints and a model of all Christians.”

“If we examine the lives of the saints, we shall discover that it was through persevering prayer that they became saints. Some saints, seeing the necessity of humility for salvation, exerted themselves for twenty, thirty, forty or more years by prayer and their corresponding efforts to acquire humility. . . . St. Francis de Sales for over twenty years strove by persistent prayer and his own corresponding efforts to overcome his natural irascibility, and succeeded in becoming a very model of meekness and a great saint. For forty years St. Alphonsus acted in like manner to acquire the virtue of patience, and became thereby a great saint.”

“If we henceforth set out earnestly to overcome our greatest defect by dint of persistent prayer, accompanied by our own efforts of ‘putting our own shoulder to the wheel,’ we shall in the end succeed in saving our soul and attaining ‘our place in heaven.'”

Quotations from Ferreol Girardey, Prayer: Its Necessity, Its Power, Its Conditions (St. Louis: B. Herder, 1916).

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Christianity, Faith, Inspiration, Prayer, Religion | Tagged , , , , , ,

The Friend at Midnight

Father Girardey discusses a twelfth narrative, The Friend at Midnight (Lk 11:5-10): Jesus said, “Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go to him at midnight, and shall say to him: Friend, lend me three loaves, because a friend of mine is come off his journey to me, and I have not what to set before him. And he from within should answer and say: Trouble me not, the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee. Yet if he shall continue knocking, I say to you, although he will not rise and give him because he is his friend, yet, because of his importunity, he will rise and give him as many as he needeth. And I say to you: Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you. For every one that asketh, receiveth; and he that seeketh, findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.”

Father Girardey comments: “In this parable also our divine Saviour insists on our persevering in prayer until it is granted, for God wishes to be, as it were, importuned and compelled by us to grant us what we pray for; unless we do this, He will not consider us as deserving or sufficiently appreciative of what we pray for. He who ceases praying after praying a few times for a favor without obtaining it, shows that he is not very anxious to get it, or that he does not consider it worth being much prayed for. Moreover, he shows also a great want of humility, since he will not act as a beggar who is in great need. . . . He lacks faith and confidence in God as the best of fathers, infinitely good and merciful, who constantly bestows His gifts upon us, who has given even His own beloved Son to the death of the cross in order to save us.”

“We should persevere in praying for the divine benefits, of which we stand in need, until we obtain them; that we should so weary God by our prayers that He would seem to be compelled by our importunity, by our persistency, to grant us all we ask. . . . He loves to be importuned, as it were, by our prayers, in order to render us more worthy of being heard, and of receiving even more than we actually pray for.”

Quotations from Ferreol Girardey, Prayer: Its Necessity, Its Power, Its Conditions (St. Louis: B. Herder, 1916).

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Christianity, Faith, Inspiration, Prayer, Religion | Tagged , , , ,

The Penitent Thief

Father Girardey discusses an eleventh narrative, The Penitent Thief (Lk 23:39-43): “One of these robbers who were hanged (crucified) blasphemed Jesus, saying: If Thou be Christ, save Thyself and us. But the other answering, rebuked him, saying: Neither dost thou fear God, seeing that thou art in the same condemnation. And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this man hath done no evil. And he said to Jesus: Lord, remember me when Thou shalt come into Thy kingdom. And Jesus said to him: Amen I say to thee: This day thou shalt be with Me in paradise.”

St. Alphonsus explains this, saying: “One of them prayed, and was therefore pardoned and saved, and the other did not pray, and therefore died in sin and was lost.”

Father Girardey remarks: “This shows the power of prayer, and the fearful doom resulting from the neglect of prayer. The prayer of the penitent thief was humble, sincere, contrite and also full of confidence. It was humble, for he had upbraided his companion for his insults to Jesus, reminding him that both of them were criminals deserving of their disgraceful death. It was sincere, for he sought not to excuse or diminish his wickedness; it was contrite, for he was manifestly sorry for his crimes, especially because he contrasted his wickedness with the innocence of Jesus; and it was full of confidence, for he proclaimed Jesus as his Lord, and as having all power and being full of mercy, and besought Him to remember him when He would enter His kingdom. All these necessary dispositions entitled him to the full benefit of divine mercy. Let us not forget that the power of making such a prayer with such dispositions was a great grace God bestowed on him.”

“The evangelists tell us of the insults, mockery and blasphemies leveled at Jesus raised on the cross between heaven and earth. Both thieves heard them. They also heard the admirable prayer of Jesus praying for His enemies; . . . they witnessed His patience and meekness amid such terrible sufferings and insults. The penitent thief was at first moved to pity, then to admiration, then to consider Him as more than a mere man, as the Saviour promised to mankind; every moment new light dawned upon his mind concerning Jesus, as it were, step by step; with these graces, for graces they really were, he gradually and faithfully co-operated, and the result was his prayer to Jesus, which secured his forgiveness and salvation.”

Quotations from Ferreol Girardey, Prayer: Its Necessity, Its Power, Its Conditions (St. Louis: B. Herder, 1916).

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Christianity, Faith, Inspiration, Prayer, Religion | Tagged , , ,

The Raising of Lazarus

Father Girardey recounts a tenth narrative, The Raising of Lazarus (Jn 11:1-45): “There was a certain man sick, named Lazarus, of Bethania, of the town of Mary and Martha, her sister.” The sister sent word to Jesus, saying, “Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick.” But Jesus “remained in the same place two days.” He arrived in Bethania after Lazarus had been buried. “Martha therefore said to Jesus: Lord, if Thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. But now also I know that whatsoever Thou wilt ask of God, God will give it to Thee. Jesus saith to her: Thy brother shall live again. Martha saith to Him: I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. Jesus said to her: I am the resurrection and the life; he that believeth in Me, although he be dead, shall live. And every one that liveth and believeth in Me, shall not die forever. Believest thou this? She saith to Him: Yea, Lord, I have believed that Thou art Christ the Son of the living God, who art come into this world.” Then Jesus “cometh to the sepulchre. Now it was a cave, and a stone was laid over it. Jesus said: Take away the stone. . . . He cried with a loud voice: Lazarus, come forth. And presently he that had been dead, came forth.”

Father Girardey notes: “Lazarus was greatly beloved by our divine Saviour. . . . When Lazarus became dangerously ill, his two sisters sent to Jesus the message: ‘He whom Thou lovest is sick.’ . . . Martha and Mary in their message did not expressly ask Jesus to come and cure His beloved friend Lazarus, their brother, but they naturally expected that Jesus would hasten to come and cure him. The very wording of the message implies this; and yet we may assume that in this matter they were resigned to whatever course Jesus would take. Thus also should we in our prayers for matters temporal strive to be resigned to God’s holy will, even if not in accordance with our desires.”

“After receiving the message of the illness of Lazarus, Jesus Christ seemed to be in no hurry, although He knew that Lazarus was on the point of death. . . . He proceeded to Bethany only by slow stages, so that when He reached that town, Lazarus had been dead four days. By so deferring His arrival Jesus did far more for the sisters of Lazarus than merely to cure him, for He gave them the occasion of gaining great merit, not only by accepting their brother’s death with resignation, but also by not losing, as most of us would have done, their firm faith and loving confidence in Jesus; and besides this He raised Lazarus to life by a most striking miracle in their favor, by a miracle which furnished a palpable proof of His being the Son of God and the promised Saviour of mankind and, as He Himself declared, would give great glory to God.”

“Let us admire the conduct of Martha and Mary. When they met Jesus before their brother’s resurrection, neither of them uttered a word of complaint, dissatisfaction or disappointment that Jesus had so long deferred His coming. . . . Let us learn from their example not to complain or despond, when God does not hear our prayers when and as we wish. God’s ways are not our ways, and His ways are better than ours.”

Quotations from Ferreol Girardey, Prayer: Its Necessity, Its Power, Its Conditions (St. Louis: B. Herder, 1916).

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Christianity, Faith, Inspiration, Prayer, Religion | Tagged , , ,

The Healing of an Epileptic Boy

Father Girardey discusses a ninth narrative, The Healing of an Epileptic Boy (Mk 9:14-29; Lk 9:37-43), which took place after Jesus had come down from the mountain where He was transfigured: “And one of the multitude, answering, said: Master, I have brought my son, my only son to Thee. He hath a dumb spirit, who, wheresoever he taketh him, dasheth him, and throweth him down, and teareth him, so that he foameth, and gnasheth the teeth and pineth away; and he bruiseth him and hardly departeth from him. And I spoke to Thy disciples to cast him out, and they could not. . . . And when he had seen Jesus, immediately the spirit troubled him; and, being thrown down upon the ground, he rolled about foaming. And Jesus asked his father: How long is it since this (first) happened to him? But he said: From his infancy; and oftentimes hath he cast him into the fire and into waters to destroy him. But if Thou canst do anything, help us, having compassion on us. And Jesus saith to him: If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. And immediately the father of the boy, crying out with tears, said: I do believe; Lord, help my unbelief. And when Jesus saw the multitude running together, He threatened the unclean spirit, saying to him: Deaf and dumb spirit, I command thee, go out of him; and enter not anymore into him. (The unclean spirit) crying out and greatly tearing him, went out of him, and he (the boy) became as dead, so that many said: He is dead. But Jesus, taking him by the hand, lifted him up, and he arose and Jesus restored him to his father. . . . His disciples secretly asked Him: Why could not we cast him out? And He said to them: This kind can go out by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.”

Concerning the father’s plea, “if Thou canst do anything, help us,” Father Girardey notes: “This was not said in a spirit of doubt or denial, but rather of a weak faith, hence our divine Saviour sought to confirm and strengthen his faith by reminding him of the necessity of a lively and confiding faith, saying: ‘If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.’ As soon as he heard this, the boy’s father weeping replied with humility and energy: ‘I do believe, help my unbelief.’ This earnest prayer obtained for him the necessary strong and confiding faith, and Jesus cast the evil spirit out of the boy. This shows us what kind of faith will cause our prayers to be heard.”

As for the reason why the disciples could not heal the boy, “Jesus by His answer taught them that for certain great and important favors a simple prayer alone does not suffice, but that persistent prayer must be joined to acts of self-denial. . . . This is a practical lesson for those Christians who pray very little and never deny themselves any enjoyment, but indulge their appetite and sensuality.”

Quotations from Ferreol Girardey, Prayer: Its Necessity, Its Power, Its Conditions (St. Louis: B. Herder, 1916).

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Christianity, Faith, Inspiration, Prayer, Religion | Tagged , , ,