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On Meekness

“Blessed are the meek for they shall possess the land.”

-Matt 5:4

“Learn of me because I am meek.”

-Matt 11:29

Our Lord offers us in His Divine Person a model of all the virtues. Meekness, however, is the one that He seems to have wished more particularly to propose for our imitation since He said: “Learn of Me for I am meek and humble of heart.”

Try, therefore, to acquire and always preserve in your soul this Christian virtue and to make all your exterior actions correspond with it. I do not say that you should never have the slightest feeling of irritation, as that would be to expect an impossibility; but you should be attentive to repress these movements and never yield to them voluntarily. It is natural for man to be often assailed by anger, says Saint Jerome, but it is peculiar to the Christian not to allow himself to be overcome by it.

A Christian, says Saint Bernard, who has no one at hand who gives him occasion to suffer, should seek such a person eagerly and buy him at any price, that he may have opportunity to practice meekness and patience. If you are not disposed to go to this expense, at least profit of whatever opportunities divine Providence has given you gratuitously, that you may accustom yourself to the exercise of these two inestimable virtues.

An excellent rule to follow is to make a compact with your tongue such as Saint Francis de Sales did with his, namely, that the tongue remain silent whenever the feelings are irritated. Otherwise you will begin to speak with the sincere resolution to keep within the bounds of moderation and prudence, but you will never succeed in so doing, because the bridle once loosened you will invariably be carried farther than you wished. Reprimand from an angry man can do no good.

Reproof is a moral remedy: how would it be possible for you to select and administer this remedy with discernment and prudence, when you yourself are ill and stand in need of both medicine and physician? Wait therefore until your soul is at peace, and when you have been restored to calmness you can speak advantageously. Even when it is your positive duty to administer a rebuke, defer it if possible until free from excitement, remembering that to have a salutary effect both he who gives it and he who receives it must be calm. Without this precaution the remedy will only aggravate the disease.

When obliged to reprove the fault of another, never fail to pray that God will speak to the person’s heart whilst your words are sounding in his ears.

Observe, however, with Saint Gregory the Great and Saint Thomas, that if those it is your duty to correct abuse your mildness and considerateness, you are then justified in repressing their boldness with vigor and firmness. “Speak to the fool,” says the Holy Spirit, “the language that his folly renders necessary, that he may not continue wise in his own eyes” (Proverbs 26:5). I repeat it: reproof is a remedy, and a remedy must be chosen and proportioned according to the nature and gravity of the evil.

This article is taken from a chapter in Light and Peace by R. P. Quadrupani, Barnabite which is available from TAN Books.

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