Thursday, August 12, 2021

The wisdom of good St. Jane de Chantal

On Love of Neighbor

If you want to love others, you can start by not looking at their faults, but at their virtues and what is good in them.  You can regard them in the heart of God and discover the image of God in each one.  Be extremely compassionate, loving and patient with each person, especially with those who are troubled.

People stumble.  Gently bear with them and pray for them.  We each in turn commit some faults: others today, and I tomorrow.  Never open your heart to the belittling of your neighbor; but love them constantly and perfectly with cordial affection.  Our Lord never said: Love your neighbors who are perfect or those who never commit faults, for our good Savior well knew that mortals are not perfect, and that none are exempt from some faults; therefore, Jesus said without qualification: Love one another as I have loved you.

Many times in groups we speak divisive words, or which bruise the reputation and good esteem of others, which produce such bad effects in the hearts of the listeners, that they will never forget the impressions.

We offend our neighbor, or rather God in our neighbor, when we speak unreasonably, or sometimes even by being silent: I am told something good about a person whom I have no great love, who has displeased me; so I hold my tongue, or I answer coldly.  I offend God And I am not exempt from fault, for I make known that I have no esteem for the person spoken of, and my coldness will perhaps take away the good opinion in which he or she was held, or I lessen it by some little word I drop in an undertone, and this word, falling like a drop of oil on a cloth, makes an impression that cannot be erased in the heart of the one who has heard it.

Those who divide hearts and sow discord between brethren are an abomination to God.  Strive then to avoid all words of hearsay and separation, I beg you with all my heart.  For we do not look very closely at what concerns sweet charity towards one another, and we think we are right in whatever we say.  We are very often deceived and taken in by our own inclinations or by subtlety of our self-love, and even by the good opinion we have of ourselves, which makes us believe it is impossible that we can be deceived.

Honor God in one another whose temples you have now become.  In this practice is the true love and honor which we must have one another.  Now, God shall be found equally in everyone.  Whether poor or rich, noble or of low estate, perfect or imperfect, all are made the temple of God.  It follows that if we have the sight of this truth well imprinted in our minds, we shall honor and mutually respect each other alike, not simply in gestures, looks, and words, but in deed and truth.  

Without holy charity for each other we are without virtue.  Compare our Lord's love for us with our love for each other.  Not only did he die for us, but he gave us the Blessed Sacrament.  He accepted the kiss of Judas who had betrayed him; while I am loath to be inconvenienced, or to have my wishes thwarted, for the sake of someone.

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