The Power of Kindness

Father Faber exclaims, “Oh, what a wretched thing it is to be unkind!” He continues: “If we have no notion of the far-reaching mischief which unkindness does, so neither can we rightly estimate the good which kindness may do. Very often a heart is drooping. It is bending over itself lower and lower. The cloud of sadness thickens. Temptations lie all around, and are multiplying in strength and number every moment. Everything forebodes approaching sin. Not so much as a kind action, not so much as a kind word, but the mere tone of voice, the mere fixing of the eye, has conveyed sympathy to the poor suffering heart, and all is right again in one instant. The downcast soul has revived under that mere peep of human sunshine, and is encouraged to do bravely the very thing which in despondency it had almost resolved to leave undone. That coming sin might have been the soul’s first step to an irretrievable ruin. That encouragement may be the first link of a new chain, which, when its length is finished, shall be called final perseverance.”

“Moreover, kindness is infectious. . . . One kind action leads to another. By one we commit ourselves to more than one. Our example is followed. The single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make fresh trees, and the rapidity of the growth is equal to its extent. But this fertility is not confined to ourselves, or to others who may be kind to the same person to whom we have been kind. It is chiefly to be found in the person himself whom we have benefited. This is the greatest work which kindness does to others—that it makes them kind themselves. The kindest men are generally those who have received the greatest number of kindnesses. . . . As we become kinder ourselves by practising kindness, so the objects of our kindness, if they were kind before, learn now to be kinder, and to be kind now if they were never so before. Thus does kindness propagate itself on all sides. Perhaps an act of kindness never dies, but extends the invisible undulations of its influence over the breadth of centuries.”

Thus, Father Faber concludes: “There is no better thing which we can do for others than to be kind to them, and our kindness is the greatest gift they can receive, except the grace of God.”

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

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