Pleasant Zeal

The following words of advice from saints and sages are especially for persons who profess piety, but who are, in the words of Padre Quadrupani, “so prone to irritability, so harsh and rude in their manners and language, that they might be taken for angels in church and for demons elsewhere.”

St. James writes: “If your zeal is bitter, it is not wisdom descending from on high, but earthly, sensual, diabolical.” (Jas 3:14-15)

Quadrupani reminds us of St. Bernard’s advice: “Let us employ the activity of our zeal in our own reformation, says Saint Bernard, and pray humbly for that of others. It is great presumption on our part thus to assume the role of apostles when we are not as yet even good and faithful disciples. Not that you should be by any means indifferent to the salvation of souls: on the contrary you must wish it most ardently, but do not undertake to effect it except with great prudence, humility and diffidence in self.”

The editor of Light and Peace includes these relevant thought of St. Francis de Sales: “You should not only be devout and love devotion, but you ought to make your piety useful, agreeable and charming to everybody. The sick will like your spirituality if they are lovingly consoled by it; your family, if they find that it makes you more thoughtful of their welfare, gentler in every day affairs, more amiable in reproving, and so on; your husband, if he sees that in proportion as your devotion increases you become more cordial and tender in your affection for him; your relations and friends, if they find you more forbearing, and more ready to comply with their wishes, should these not be contrary to God’s will. Briefly, you must try as far as possible to make your devotion attractive to others; that is true zeal.”

Quotations from Carlo Giuseppe Quadrupani, Light and Peace: Instructions for Devout Souls to Dispel Their Doubts and Allay Their Fears (St. Louis: B. Herder, 1898).

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