The Precedence of Kind Thoughts

The remaining three chapters of Father Faber’s essay Kindness discuss our thoughts, our words, and our actions. He shows how kind thoughts precede kind words and kind actions, and how our acts of kindness manifest the goodness of God.

He explains: “Everywhere in creation there is a charm, the fountain of which is invisible. In the natural, the moral, and the spiritual world it is the same. We are constantly referring it to causes which are only effects. Faith alone reveals to us its true origin. God is behind everything. His sweetness transpires through the thick shades which hide Him. It comes to the surface, and with gentle mastery overwhelms the whole world. The sweetness of the hidden God is the delight of the life. It is the pleasantness of nature, and the consolation which is omnipresent is all-suffering. We touch Him, we lean on Him, we feel Him, we see Him, always and everywhere. Yet He makes Himself so natural to us that we almost overlook Him. Indeed, if it were not for faith we should overlook Him altogether. His presence is like light when we do not see the face of the sun. It is like light on the stony folds of the mountain-top coming through rents in the waving clouds; or in the close forest, where the wind weaves and unweaves the canopy of foliage; or like the silver arrows of under-water light in the deep blue sea, with coloured stones and bright weeds glancing there. Still, God does not shine equally through all things. Some things are more transparent, other things more opaque. Some have a greater capacity for disclosing God than others.”

“In the moral world, with which alone we are concerned at present, kind thoughts have a special power to let in upon us the light of the hidden God.”

“The thoughts of men are a world by themselves, vast and populous. Each man’s thoughts are a world to himself. There is an astonishing breadth in the thoughts of even the most narrow-minded man. Thus, we all of us have an interior world to govern. . . . There is no doubt that we are very much influenced by external things, and that our natural dispositions are in no slight degree dependent upon education. Nevertheless, our character is formed within. It is manufactured in the world of our thoughts, and there we must go to influence it. . . . The fountains of word and action have their untrodden springs in the caverns of the world of thought.”

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

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