Love, Not Envy

St Anthony of Padua by Alvise Vivarini

St. Antony of Padua speaks of the danger of the vice of envy: “Envy is a very fatal evil; when it has possession of a soul it troubles it, blinds it, and carries it into all kinds of excesses. Self-love is the mother of envy, and love of our neighbour combats and destroys it.”

St. Francis of Assisi cautions against envy: “I exhort all brothers in our Lord Jesus Christ to guard against pride, vainglory, envy, avarice, the cares and anxieties of the world, slander, and murmuring.” And again: “Whoever envies his brother on account of the good which God says or does in him, commits a sin like unto blasphemy; for he envies the Most High Himself, Who is the Author of all good words and deeds.”

He notes: “Fine clothes, beautiful houses, fastidiousness in food and drink, idleness and sleep—these are the things which weaken the soul and encourage sensuality.”

Instead of envying others, we should love them, says St. Francis: “We ought to love our neighbours as ourselves. If we have not courage to love them as ourselves, let us at least inflict no evil on them, but do them good.” And again: “Happy the man who loves his neighbour equally when he is absent and when he is present, and who never says a word by which charity would be wounded if his neighbour were present.”

Affirming this teaching, Blessed Egidius of Assisi declares: “Happy he who has charity for all, and yet looks not for it from others; who does great service to his neighbour, and looks for no return.”

St Elizabeth of Hungary Bringing Food by Adam Elsheimer

Finally, St. Elizabeth of Hungary, a member of the Third Order of St. Francis, reminds us of the Golden Rule when she says: “Pardon and give to your neighbour all that you wish him to pardon or give to you. Do unto others as you would they should do unto you.”

Quotations from Flowers from the Garden of Saint Francis for Every Day of the Year (London: Burns and Oates, 1882).

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