Thoughts: The Truest Measure of Oneself

In opposition to a commonly held opinion, Father Faber states: “It seems to me that our thoughts are a more true measure of ourselves than our actions are. They are not under the control of human respect. It is not easy for them to be ashamed of themselves. They have no witnesses but God. They are not bound to keep within certain limits or observe certain proprieties. Religious motives alone can claim jurisdiction over them. The struggle which so often ensues within us before we can bring ourselves to do our duty goes on entirely within our thoughts. It is our own secret, and men cannot put us to the blush because of it. The contradiction which too often exists between our outward actions and our inward intentions is only to be detected in the realm of our thoughts, whither none but God can penetrate.”

“In like manner, as an impulse will sometimes show more of our real character than what we do after deliberation, our first thoughts will often reveal to us faults of disposition which outward restraints will hinder from issuing in action. Actions have their external hindrances, while our thoughts better disclose to us our possibilities of good and evil.”

“It is in the world of thought that we most often meet with God, walking as in the shades of ancient Eden. It is there we hear His whispers. It is there we perceive the fragrance of His recent presence. It is thence that the first vibrations of grace proceed.”

“Kind thoughts must be of immense consequence. If a man habitually has kind thoughts of others, and that on supernatural motives, he is not far from being a saint. Such a man’s thoughts are not kind intermittingly, or on impulse, or at haphazard. His first thoughts are kind, and he does not repent of them. . . . All his thoughts are kind, and he does not chequer them with unkindly ones. Even when sudden passions or vehement excitements have thrown them into commotion, they settle down into a kindly humour, and cannot settle otherwise. These men are rare. Kind thoughts are rarer than either kind words or kind deeds. They imply a great deal of thinking about others. This in itself is rare. But they imply also a great deal of thinking about others without the thoughts being criticisms. This is rarer still.”

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

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