Cultivating Meekness

St. Francis de Sales counseled his spiritual children to cultivate in themselves the virtue of meekness. This is in line with what Jesus Christ said: “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls” (Mt 11:29). Here are some words of advice on the subject from St. Francis:

“The meek Saviour would have us meek, so that, though surrounded by the world and the flesh, we may live by the Spirit; that, amidst the vanities of earth, we may live in heaven; that, living among men, we may praise Him with the angels.”

“God, who calls us to Him, sees how we are approaching, and will never permit anything to happen but what is for our greater good.”

“God knows what we are, and will hold out his paternal hand to us in a difficult step, in order that nothing may arrest us.”

“If, then, it ever happen that some grief come upon you, assure your soul that if she love God all things will turn to her good. And though you may not see the means by which this good shall be effected, be all the more convinced of it.”

“Since the Heart of our Lord has no more loving law than meekness, humility, and charity we must firmly maintain these dear virtues in us.”

“Cultivate not only a solid love, but a tender, gentle, meek love for those about you; I have learned from experience that infirmities destroy, not our charity, but our meekness towards our neighbour, if we are not strongly on our guard.”

He explains why meekness is better than severity: “Away from me those who love severity, for I will have none of it! It is better to be obliged to account to God for too much gentleness than too much severity. Is not God all love? God the Father is the father of the wretched; God the Son is called a lamb; God the Holy Ghost manifests Himself under the form of a dove. If there were anything better than benignity Jesus Christ would have told us, and yet He gives us but two lessons to learn of Him—meekness and humility.”

Quotations from Maxims and Counsels of St. Francis de Sales, translated by Ella McMahon (Dublin: M. H. Gill & Son, 1884).

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