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).

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