How Kind Words Are Rewarding to Oneself

Kind words benefit not only the receiver but also the giver, as Father Faber explains: “Kind words make us happy in ourselves. They soothe our own irritation, they charm our cares away, they draw us nearer to God, they raise the temperature of our love. They produce in us a sense of quiet restfulness like that which accompanies the consciousness of forgiven sin. They shed abroad the peace of God within our hearts. . . . We become kinder by saying kind words. . . . They help us also to attain the grace of purity. . . . They win us many other graces from God; but one especially: they appear to have a peculiar congeniality with the grace of contrition, which is softheartedness towards God. Everything which makes us gentle has at the same time a tendency to make us contrite. A natural melting of the heart has often been the beginning of an acceptable repentance. Hence it is that seasons of sorrow are apt to be seasons of grace.” Kind words make us truthful because “kindness is God’s view, and His view is already the true view.” We yearn to be truthful, for “it is our insincerity, our manifold inseparable falseness, which is the load under which we groan.”

Father Faber observes: “In some respects a clever man is more likely to be kind than a man who is not clever, because his mind is wider, and takes in a broader range, and is more capable of looking at things from different points of view. But there are other respects in which it is harder for a clever man to be kind, especially in his words. He has a temptation, and it is one of those temptations which appear sometimes to border on the irresistible, to say clever things; and, somehow, clever things are hardly ever kind things. There is a drop either of acid or of bitter in them. . . . If we were to make an honest resolution never to say a clever thing, we should advance much more rapidly on the road to heaven. Our Lord’s words in the Gospels should be our models. . . . It is remarkable how little of epigram or sharpness there is in them.”

“There are some men who make it a kind of social profession to be amusing talkers. . . . A man who lays himself out to amuse is never a safe man to have for a friend, or even for an acquaintance. He is not a man whom anyone really loves or respects. He is never innocent. He is forever jostling charity by the pungency of his criticisms, and wounding justice by the revelation of secrets.”

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

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