The Hidden Life of Kind Actions

Father Faber observes: “Spiritual persons who specially cultivate kindness are singularly exempt from delusions. Yet delusions form the most intricate and baffling part of our spiritual warfare. But the instinct of kindness is never baffled. No position ever seems new to it, no difficulty unforeseen. It appears to be dispensed from the necessity of deliberating. It follows the lightning-like changes of self-love or of the temper with a speed as lightning-like as their own. It sees through all stratagems. It is for ever extemporizing. . . . It always has light enough to work by, because it is luminous itself.”

“Besides this, kindness has an intrinsic congeniality with all the characteristics of the higher spiritual states. Kind actions go upon unselfish motives, and therefore tend to form a habit of disinterestedness in us, which prepares us for the highest motives of Divine love. . . . Like God’s goodness, they are constantly occupied where there is no hope of payment and return.”

“As God acts evermore for His own glory, so kind actions, when they are habitual, must very frequently be done for Him alone. It is their instinct to be hidden, like the instinct of His providence. . . . God often rewards them by arranging that they shall be unrequited, and so look only to Him as Himself their recompense. . . . He even shrouds our kind actions for us by letting us look stern or speak sharply, or be quick-tempered in the doing of them. . . . Who does not see that we are here right in the midst of the motive-machinery of the very highest spiritual condition of the soul?”

Father Faber notes: “Social contact has something irritating in it, even when it is kindliest. Those who love us are continually aggravating us, not only unintentionally, but even in the display of their love. Unkindness also abounds, and is of itself vexatious. Something goes wrong daily. It is difficult even for sympathy not to exasperate. Consolation is almost always chafing. . . . What a field for sanctification all this opens out to us!”

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

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