How Kind Actions Save Us

Father Faber remarks: “Graces from God, kindnesses from men; we seem to have stood all our lives under the beneficent drippings of these beneficent showers. . . . Kindness has again and again done the preliminary work for grace in our souls. . . . The thought of all the kindness of so many persons to us sometimes grows to be almost intolerable because of the sense of our own unkindness. These kind actions have been to us like importunate Angels. They have surrounded us almost against our own will, and done us all manner of unasked good, of extra good, of good apparently unconnected with themselves. From how many evils have they not also rescued us? We know of many, but there are many more of which we do not know.”

“Can we not now see in the retrospect steep places down which we were beginning to fall, and a kind act saved us, and at the time we thought we had stumbled over a stone by the way? We are indeed very far from what we ought to be now. But it is frightening to think what we might have been had parents, friends, nurses, masters, servants, schoolfellows, enemies, been less kind than they have been. . . . Feeling that we ourselves owe all this to the kindness of others, are we not bound, as far as lies in our power, to be putting everyone else on all sides of us under similarly blessed obligations?”

“It is not hard to do this. The occasions for kind actions are manifold. No one passes a day without meeting these fortunate opportunities. They grow round us even when we lie on a bed of sickness, and the helpless are rich in a power of kindness towards the helpful. . . . Hardly out of twenty kind actions does one call for an effort of self-denial on our part. Easiness is the rule, and difficulty the exception. When kindness does call for an effort, how noble and self-rewarding is the sacrifice! We always gain more than we lose; we gain outwardly, and often even in kind. But the inward gain is invariable; nothing forfeits that. Moreover, there is something very economical about the generosity of kindness. A little goes a long way.”

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

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