Kindness With Effort

Father Faber notes that most kind actions require no effort, but when they do require effort, we ought “to keep the effort out of view.” He advises: “We should never repeat to others our good actions. If we do, their heavenly influence over ourselves goes at once. Neither does it simply evaporate; it remains as a dead weight. . . . When men begin to thank us, we should playfully stop their thanks, but not stiffly or unreally.”

“There are some men who would feel awkward and uncomfortable if they were not allowed to pour out their feelings. Such men we must not check. It is part of the discernment of good manners to find out who they are, and the perfection of good manners to be natural and simple under the operation of being praised.”

“Being praised puts us for the most part in a ludicrous position. Either it mortifies us by a sense of inferiority, or it makes us suspicious by a feeling of disproportion, or it unseasonably awakes our sense of humour, which is always in proportion to the honest seriousness of those who are praising us. The fact is, very few people know how to praise, and fewer still know how to take it.”

“We should never dwell upon our kind actions in our own minds. God is in them. They have been operations of grace. God is shy of being looked at, and withdraws. When we are tempted to be complacent about them, let us think of the sanctity of God and be ashamed. Let us dwell on His attribute of magnificence, and be especially devout to it. We shall thus keep ourselves within the limits of our own littleness, and even feel comfortable in them.”

“The grass of the fields is better than the cedars of Lebanon. It feeds more, and it rests the eye better. . . . . Kindness is the turf of the spiritual world, whereon the sheep of Christ feed quietly beneath the Shepherd’s eye.”

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

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