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Title: Fraternal Charity
Author: Valuy, Benôit
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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  Nihil Obstat.
       _Censor Deputatus._

       _Episcopus Arindelensis,_
          _Vicarius Generalis._

      _Die 7 Feb., 1908._


THE name of Father Valuy, S.J., is already favourably known to
English readers by several translations of his works, which have a
large circulation.

The following little treatise is taken from one of his works on
the Religious Life, and is translated with the kind permission of
the publisher, M. Emmanuel Vitte, of Lyons. The subject is so
important a factor in community life that I feel confident it will
supply a want hitherto felt by many.

Though specially written for religious, it cannot fail to prove
beneficial to seculars in every sphere of life, as love, the
sunshine of existence, is wanted everywhere.






OUR Divine Saviour shows both by precept and example that His
favourite virtue, His own and, in a certain sense, characteristic
virtue, was charity. Whether He treated with His ignorant and rude
Apostles, with the sick and poor, or with His enemies and sinners,
He is always benign, condescending, merciful, affable, patient; in
a word, His charity appeared in all its most amiable forms. Oh,
how well these titles suit Him!--a King full of clemency, a Lamb
full of mildness. How justly could He say, "Learn of Me, that I am
meek and humble of heart"! His yoke was sweet, His burden light,
His conversation without sadness or bitterness. He lightened the
burdens of those heavily laden; He consoled those in sorrow; He
quenched not the dying spark nor broke the bruised reed.

He calls us His friends, His brothers, His little flock; and as
the greatest sign of friendship is to die for those we love, He
gave to each of us the right to say with St. Paul: "He loved me,
and delivered Himself up for me." Let us, then, say: "My good
Master, I love Thee, and deliver myself up for Thee."

Religious, called to reproduce the three great virtues of Jesus
Christ--poverty, chastity, and obedience--have still another to
practise not less noble or distinctive--viz., fraternal charity.
By this virtue they are not called to rise above earthly or
sensual pleasures, nor above their judgment and self-will, but
above egotism and self-love, which shoot their roots deepest in
the soul. They must consider attentively the fundamental truths on
which charity is based and its effects, as also the principal
obstacles to its attainment, and the means to overcome them.



_We are all members of the great Christian family_

CHARITY towards our neighbour is charity towards God in our
neighbour, because, faith assuring us that God is our Father,
Jesus Christ our Head, the Holy Ghost our sanctifier, it follows
that to love our neighbour--inasmuch as he is the well-beloved
child of God, the member of Jesus Christ, and the sanctuary of the
Holy Ghost--is to love in a special manner our heavenly Father,
His only-begotten Son, together with the Holy Spirit. And because
it is scarcely possible for religious to behold their brethren in
this light without wishing them what the Most Holy Trinity so
lovingly desires to bestow on them, acts of fraternal charity
include--almost necessarily at least--implicit acts of faith and
hope; and the exercise of the noblest of the theological virtues
thus often becomes an exercise of the other two.

Thus it is that charity poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit,
uniting Christians among themselves and with the adorable Trinity
whose images they are, is the vivid and perfect imitation of the
love of the Father for the Son, and of the Son for the Father--a
substantial love which is no other than the Holy Ghost, and makes
us all one in God by grace, as the Father and Son are only one God
with the Holy Ghost by nature, according to the words of our Lord:
"That they all may be one; as Thou, Father, in Me, and I in Thee:
that they also may be one in Us."

Such is the chain that unites and binds us--a chain of gold a
thousand times stronger than those of flesh and blood, interest or
friendship, because these permit the defects of body and the vices
of the soul to be seen, whilst charity covers all, hides all, to
offer exclusively to admiration and love the work of the hands of
God, the price of the blood of Jesus Christ and the masterpiece of
the Holy Spirit.



_We are members of the same religious family_

TO love our brethren as ourselves in relation to God, it suffices
without doubt to have with them the same faith, the same
Sacraments, the same head, the same life, the same immortal hopes,
etc. But, besides these, there exist other considerations which
lead friendship and fraternity to a higher degree among the
members of the same religious Order. All in the novitiate have
been cast in the same mould, or, rather, have imbibed the milk of
knowledge and piety from the breasts of the same mother. All
follow the same rules; all tend to the same end by the same means;
all from morning to night, and during their whole lives, perform
the same exercises, live under the same roof, work, sanctify
themselves, suffer and rejoice together. Like fellow-citizens,
they have the same interests; like soldiers, the same combats;
like children of a family, the same ancestors and heirlooms; and,
like friends, a communication of ideas and interchange of

If our Lord said to Christians in general, "This is My
commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. By
this shall all men know that you are My disciples, if you have
love for one another" (John xiii.), can He not say to the members
of the same religious Order: "This is My own and special
recommendation: Before all and above all preserve amongst you a
mutual charity. Have but one soul in several different bodies. You
will be recognized as religious and brethren, not by the same
habit, vows, and virtues, nor by the particular work entrusted to
you by the Church, but by the love you have one for the other. Ah!
who will love you if you do not love one another? Love one another
fraternally, because as human beings you have only one heavenly
Father. Love one another holily, because as Christians you have
only one Head. Love one another tenderly, because as religious you
have only one mother--your Order"?

It is impossible for religious to love their brethren with a true,
sincere, pure, and constant love if they do not look at them in
this light.



BASED on the foregoing principles, fraternal charity begets the
family spirit--that spirit which forgets itself in thinking only
of the common good; which makes particular give way to general
interests; which forces oneself to live with all without
exception, to live as all without singularity, and to live for all
without self-seeking; that spirit which, binding like a Divine
cement all parts of the mysterious edifice of religion, uniting
all hearts in one and all wills in one, permits the community to
proceed firmly and securely, and its members to work out
efficaciously and peacefully their personal sanctification and
perfection; in fine, that spirit which gives to all religious not
only an inexpressible family happiness, but a delicious foretaste
of heaven, which renders them invincible to their enemies, and
causes to be said of them with admiration: "See how they love one

Writing on these words of the Psalmist, "Behold how good and
pleasant it is for brethren to live together in union," St.
Augustine cries out: "Behold the words which make monasteries
spring up! Sweet, delightful, and delicious words which fill the
soul and ear with jubilation."

Yes, certainly the happiness of community life is great and its
advantages inappreciable; but without the family spirit there is
no community, as there would be no beauty in the human body
without harmony in its members. Oh, never forget this comparison,
you who wish to live happy in religion, and who wish to make
others happy.

A community is a body. Now, as the members of a body, each in its
proper place and functions, live in perfect harmony, mutually
comfort, defend, and love each other, without being jealous or
vengeful, and have only in view the well-being of that body of
which they are parts, so in the community of which you are members
and in the employment assigned to you. Remember you are parts of a
whole, and that it is necessary to refer to this whole your time,
labour, and strength; to have the same thoughts, sentiments,
designs, and language, without which there would no longer exist
either body, members, parts, or whole. If you wish, then, to
obtain and practise the family spirit, study what passes within
you. Your actions bespeak your sentiments.



EGOTISM, taking for its motto "Every one for himself," is very
much opposed to fraternal charity and the family spirit. It never
hesitates, when occasion offers, to sacrifice the common good to
its own. It isolates the individuals, makes them concentrated in
self, places them in the community, but not of it, makes them
strangers amongst their brethren, and tends to justify the words
of an impious writer, who calls monasteries "reunions of persons
who know not each other, who live without love, and die without
being regretted."

Egotism breeds distrust, jealousy, parties, aversions. It destroys
abnegation, humility, patience, and all other virtues. It
introduces a universal disgust and discontent, makes religious
lose their first fervour, presents an image of hell where one
expected to find a heaven on earth, saps the very foundation of
community life, and leads sooner or later to inevitable ruin.

As the family spirit causes the growth and prosperity of an order,
however feeble its beginning, so, on the other hand, egotism dries
the sap and renders it powerless, no matter what other advantages
it may enjoy. If the one, by uniting hearts, is a principle of
strength and duration, the other, by dividing, is a principle of
dissolution and decay. Sallust says that "the weakest things
become powerful by concord, and the greatest perish through
discord." Whilst the descendants of Noah spoke the same language
the building of the tower of Babel proceeded with rapidity. From
the moment they ceased to understand one another its destruction
commenced, and the monument which was to have immortalized their
name was left in ruin to tell their shame and pride.

On each of the four corners of the monastery religion or charity
personified ought to be placed, bearing on shields in large
characters the following words: (1) "Love one another"; (2) "He
who is not with Me is against Me, and he who gathers not with Me
scatters"; (3) "Every kingdom divided will become desolate"; (4)
"They had all but one heart and one soul."



_To esteem our brethren interiorly_

"CHARITY, the sister of humility," says St. Paul, "is not puffed
up." She cannot live with pride, the disease of a soul full of
itself. It willingly prefers others by considering their good
qualities and one's own defects, and shows this exteriorly when
occasion offers by many sincere proofs. It always looks on others
from the most favourable point. Instead of closing the eyes on
fifty virtues to find out one fault, without any other profit than
to satisfy a natural perverseness and to excuse one's own
failings, it closes the eyes on fifty faults to open them on one
virtue, with the double advantage of being edified and of blessing
God, the Author of all good. Since an unfavourable thought, or the
sight of an action apparently reprehensible, tends to cloud the
reputation of a religious, charity hastens before the cloud
thickens to drive it away, saying, "What am I doing? Should I
blacken in my mind the image of God, and seek deformities in the
member of Jesus Christ? Besides, cannot my brethren be eminently
holy and be subject to many faults, which God permits them to fall
into in order to keep them humble, to teach them to help others,
and to exercise their patience?"



_To treat brethren with respect, openness, and cordiality_

EXTERIOR honour being the effect and sign of interior esteem,
charity honours all those whom it esteems superiors, equals, the
young and the old. It carefully observes all propriety, and takes
into consideration the different circumstances of age, employment,
merit, character, birth, and education to make itself all to all.
Convinced that God is not unworthy to have well-bred persons in
His service, and that religious ought not to respect themselves
less than people in the world, it conforms to all the requirements
of politeness as far as religious simplicity will permit; not that
politeness which is feigned and hypocritical, and which is merely
a sham expression of deceitful respect, but that politeness, the
flower of charity, which, manifesting exteriorly the sentiments of
a sincere affection and a true devotion, is accompanied with a
graceful countenance, benign and affable regards, sweetness in
words, foresight, urbanity, and delicacy in business. In fine,
that politeness which is the fruit of self-denial and humility no
less than of charity and friendship; which is the art of
self-restraint and self-conquest, without restraining others;
which is the care of avoiding everything that might displease, and
doing all that can please, in order to make others content with
us and with themselves. In a word, a mixture of discretion and
complaisance, cordiality and respect, together with words and
manners full of mildness and benignity.



_To work harmoniously with those in the same employment, and not
to cause any inconvenience to them_

WHY should we cling so obstinately to our own way of seeing and
doing? Do not many ways and means serve the same ends provided
they be employed wisely and perseveringly? Some have succeeded by
their methods, and I by mine--a proof that success is reached
through many ways, and that it is not by disputing it is obtained,
nor by giving scandal to those we should edify, nor, perhaps, by
compromising the good work in which we are employed. The four
animals mentioned by Ezekiel joined their wings, were moved by the
same spirit and animated by the same ardour, and so drew the
heavenly chariot with majesty and rapidity, giving us religious an
example of perfect union of efforts and thoughts.

Charity avoids haughty and contemptuous looks, forewarns itself
against fads and manias, and in the midst of most pressing
occupations carefully guards against rudeness and impatience.
Careful of wounding the susceptibility of others, it neither
blames nor despises those who act in an opposite way. Religious
animated by fraternal charity are not ticklish spirits who are
disturbed for nothing at all, and who do not know how to pass
unnoticed a little want of respect, etc.; nor punctilious spirits,
who find pleasure in contradicting and making irritating remarks;
nor self-opinionated spirits, who pose themselves as supreme
judges of talent and virtue as well as infallible dispensers of
praise and blame. Neither are they suspicious characters who are
constantly ruminating in their hearts, and who consider every
little insult as levelled at themselves; nor discontented beings,
who find fault with the places whither obedience sends them and
the persons with whom they live, and who could travel the entire
world without finding a single place or a single person to suit

Charitable religious are not those imperious minds who endeavour
to impose their opinions on all and refuse to accept those of
others, however just they may be, simply because they did not
emanate from themselves, nor are they those ridiculing,
hard-to-be-pleased sort of people who do not spare even grey hairs.
Finally, they are not those great spouters who, instead of
accommodating themselves to circumstances as charity and
politeness require, monopolize the conversation, and thereby shut
up the mouths of others and make them feel weary when they should
be joyful and free.



_To accommodate oneself to persons of different humour_

THEY who are animated by charity support patiently and in silence,
in sentiments of humility and sweetness, as if they had neither
eyes nor ears, the difficult, odd, and most inconstant humours of
others, although they may find it very difficult at times to do

No matter how regular and perfect we may be, we have always need
of compassion and indulgence for others. To be borne with, we must
bear with others; to be loved, we must love; to be helped, we must
help; to be joyful ourselves, we must make others so. Surrounded
as we are by so many different minds, characters, and interests,
how can we live in peace for a single day if we are not
condescending, accommodating, yielding, self-denying, ready to
renounce even a good project, and to take no notice of those
faults and shortcomings which are beyond our power or duty to

Charity patiently listens to a bore, answers a useless question,
renders service even when the need is only imaginary, without ever
betraying the least signs of annoyance. It never asks for
exceptions or privileges for fear of exciting jealousy. It does
not multiply nor prolong conversations which in any way annoy
others. It fights antipathy and natural aversions so that they may
never appear, and seeks even the company of those who might be the
object of them. It does not assume the office of reprehending or
warning through a motive of bitter zeal. It seeks to find in
oneself the faults it notices in others, and perhaps greater ones,
and tries to correct them. "If thou canst not make thyself such a
one as thou wouldst, how canst thou expect to have another
according to thy liking? We would willingly have others perfect,
and yet we mend not our own defects. We would have others strictly
corrected, but are not fond of being corrected ourselves. The
large liberty of others displeases us, and yet we do not wish to
be denied anything we ask for. We are willing that others be bound
up by laws, and we suffer not ourselves to be restrained by any
means. Thus it is evident how seldom we weigh our neighbour in the
same balance with ourselves" ("Imitation," i. 16).



_To refuse no reasonable service, and to accept or refuse in an
affable manner_

CHARITY is generous; it does everything it can. When even it can
do little, it wishes to be able to do more. It never lets slip an
opportunity of comforting, helping, and taking the most painful
part, after the example of its Divine Model, Who came to serve,
not to be served. One religious, seemingly in pain, seeks comfort;
another desires some book, instrument, etc.; a third bends under a
burden; while a fourth is afflicted. In all these cases charity
comes to the aid by consoling the one, procuring little
gratifications for the other, and helping another. Without
complaining of the increased labour or the carelessness of others,
it finishes the work left undone by them, too happy to diminish
their trouble, while augmenting its own reward. "Does the hunter,"
says St. John Chrysostom, "who finds splendid game blame those who
beat the brushwood before him? Or does the traveller who finds a
purse of gold on the road neglect to pick it up because others who
preceded him took no notice of it?" It would be a strange thing to
find religious uselessly giving themselves to ardent desires of
works of charity abroad, such as nursing in a hospital or carrying
the Gospel into uncivilized lands, and at the same time in their
own house and among their own brethren showing coldness,
indifference, and want of condescension.

There is an art of giving as well as of refusing. Several offend
in giving because they do so with a bad grace; others in refusing
do not offend because they know how to temper their refusal by
sweetness of manner. Charity possesses this art in a high degree,
and, besides, raises a mere worldly art into a virtue and fruit of
the Holy Ghost.



_To share the joys and griefs of our brethren_

AS the soul in the human body establishes all its members as
sharers equally in joys and griefs, so charity in the religious
community places everything in common content, affliction,
material goods driving out of existence the words mine and thine.
It lavishes kind words and consolations on all who suffer in any
way through ill-humour, sickness, want of success, etc.; it
rejoices when they are successful, honoured, and trusted, or
endowed with gifts of nature or grace, felicitates them on their
good fortune, and thanks God for them. If, on the one hand,
compassion sweetens pains to the sufferer by sharing them, on the
other hand participation in a friend's joys doubles them by making
them personal to ourselves. Would to God that this touching and
edifying charity replaced the low and rampant vice of jealousy!

When David returned after he slew the Philistines, the women came
out of all the cities of Israel singing and dancing to meet King
Saul. And the women sang as they played, "Saul slew his thousands
and David his ten thousands." Saul was exceedingly angry, and this
word was displeasing in his eyes, and he said: "They have given
David ten thousand, and to me they have given but a thousand. . .
. And Saul did not look on David with a good eye from that day
forward. . . . And Saul held a spear in his hand and threw it,
thinking to nail David to the wall" (1 Kings). Thus it is that the
jealous complain of their brethren who are more successful,
learned, or praised; thus it is that they lance darts of calumny,
denunciation, and revenge.



_Not to be irritated when others wrong us_

WE must pardon and do good for evil, as God has pardoned us and
rendered good for evil in Jesus Christ. It is vain to trample the
violet, as it never resists, and he who crushes it only becomes
aware of the fact by the sweetness of its perfume. This is the
image of charity. It always strives to throw its mantle over the
evil doings of others, persuading itself that they were the
effects of surprise, inadvertence, or at most very slight malice.
If an explanation is necessary, it is the first to accuse itself.
Never does it permit the keeping of a painful thought against any
of the brethren, and does all in its power to hinder them from the
same; and, moreover, excuses all signs of contempt, ingratitude,
rudeness, peculiarities, etc.

Cassian makes mention of a religious who, having received a box on
the ear from his abbot in presence of more than two hundred
brethren, made no complaint, nor even changed colour. St. Gregory
praises another religious, who, having been struck several times
with a stool by his abbot, attributed it not to the passion of the
abbot, but to his own fault. He adds that the humility and
patience of the disciple was a lesson for the master. This charity
will have no small weight in the balance of Him Who weighs merit
so exactly.

Charity gives no occasion to others to suffer, but suffers all
patiently, not once, but all through life, every day and almost
every hour. It is most necessary for religious, as, not being able
to seek comfort abroad, they are obliged to live in the same
house, often in the same employment with characters less
sympathetic than their own. These little acts of charity count for
little here below, and they are rather exacted than admired. Hence
there is less danger of vainglory, and all their merit is
preserved in the sight of God.



_To practise moderation and consideration_

TELL-TALES, nasty names, cold answers, lies, mockery, harsh words,
etc., are all contrary to charity. St. John Chrysostom says: "When
anyone loads you with injuries, close your mouth, because if you
open it you will only cause a tempest. When in a room between two
open doors through which a violent wind rushes and throws things
in disorder, if you close one door the violence of the wind is
checked and order is restored. So it is when you are attacked by
anyone with a bad tongue. Your mouth and his are open doors. Close
yours, and the storm ceases. If, unfortunately, you open yours,
the storm will become furious, and no one can tell what the damage
may be." If we have been guilty in this respect, let us humble
ourselves before God.

"The tongue," says St. Gertrude, "is privileged above the other
members of the body, as on it reposes the sacred body and precious
blood of Jesus Christ. Those, then, who receive the Holy of Holies
without doing penance for the sins of the tongue are like those
who would keep a heap of stones at their doors to stone a friend
on arrival."

In order to keep ourselves and others in a state of moderation, we
must remember that all persons have some fad, mania, or fixed
ideas which they permit no one to gainsay. If we touch them on
these points, it will be like playing an accompaniment to an
instrument with one string out of tune.



_Care of the sick and infirm_

CHARITY lavishes care on the sick and infirm, on the old, on
guests and new-comers. It requires that we visit those who are
ill, to cheer and console them, to foresee their wants, and
thereby to spare them the pain or humiliation of asking for

Bossuet says: "Esteem the sick, love them, respect and honour
them, as being consecrated by the unction of the Cross and marked
with the character of a suffering Jesus."

Charity pays honour to the aged in every respect, coincides with
their sentiments, consults them, forestalls their desires, and
attempts not to reform in them what cannot be reformed. Charity
receives fraternally all guests and new-comers, and makes us treat
them as we would wish to be treated under similar circumstances.
It also causes us to lavish testimonies of affection on those who
are setting out, and warns us to be very careful of saying or
doing anything that may in the least degree offend even the most

Religious must ever feel that they can bless, love, and thank
religion as a good mother. But religion is not an abstract matter;
it is made up of individuals reciprocally bound together in and
for each other.

Alas! how many times are the sick and the old made to consider
themselves as an inconvenient burden, or like a useless piece of
furniture! In reality what are they doing? They pray and do
penance for the community, turn away the scourge of God, draw down
His graces and blessings, merit, perhaps, the grace of
perseverance for several whose vocation is shaking, hand down to
the younger members the traditions and spirit of the institute,
and finally practise, and cause to be practised, a thousand acts
of virtue.

Did our Divine Lord work less efficaciously for the Church when He
hung on the Cross than when He preached? We must, then, do for the
sick and the old who are now bearing their cross what we would
have wished to do for Jesus in His suffering.



_Prayer for living and deceased brethren_

"WE do not remember often enough our dear dead, our departed
brethren," says St. Francis de Sales, "and the proof of it is that
we speak so little of them. We try to change the discourse as if
it were hurtful. We let the dead bury their dead. Their memory
perishes with us like the sound of the funeral knell, without
thinking that a friendship which perishes with death is not true.
It is a sign of piety to speak of their virtues as it urges us to
imitate them."

In communities distinguished for fraternal charity and the family
spirit the conversation frequently turns on the dead. One talks of
their virtues, another of their services, a third quotes some of
their sayings, while a fourth adds some other edifying fact; and
who is the religious that will not on such occasions breathe a
silent prayer to God and apply some indulgence or other
satisfactory work for the happy repose of their souls?

Charity also prays for those who want help most, and who are often
known to God alone--those whose constancy is wavering, those who
are led by violent temptations to the edge of the precipice. It
expands pent-up souls by consolations or advice; it dissipates
prejudices which tend to weaken the spirit of obedience; it is, in
fine, a sort of instinct which embraces all those things suggested
by zeal and devotion. Can there be anything more agreeable to God,
more useful to the Church, or more meritorious, than to foster
thus amongst the well-beloved children of God peace, joy, love of
vocation, together with union amongst themselves and with their
superiors? It is one of the most substantial advantages we have in
religion to know that we are never forsaken in life or death; to
find always a heart that can compassionate our pains, a hand which
sustains us in danger and lifts us when we fall.



_To have a lively interest in the whole Order, in its works, its
success, and its failures_

RELIGIOUS who have the family spirit wish to know everything which
concerns the well-being of the different houses. They willingly
take their pens to contribute to the edification and satisfy the
lawful curiosity of their brethren. They bless God when they hear
good news, and grieve at bad news, losses by death, and, above
all, scandalous losses of vocation.

Those who would concentrate all their thoughts on their own work,
as if all other work counted for nothing or merited no attention,
who would speak feebly or perhaps jealously of it, as if they
alone wished to do good, or that others wished to deprive them of
some glory, would show that they only sought themselves, and that
to little love of the Church they joined much indifference for
their Order.

Charity, by uniting its good wishes and interest to the deeds of
others, becomes associated at the same time in the merit. It
shares in a certain manner in the gifts and labours of others. It
is, at the same time, the eye, the hand, the tongue, and the foot,
since it rejoices at what is done by the eye, the hand, the
tongue, etc., or, rather, it is as the soul which presides over
all, and to whom nothing is a stranger in the body over which it



_Mutual Edification_

BE edified at the sight of your brethren's virtues, and edify them
by your own. In other words, be alternately disciple and master.

Profit by the labours of others, and make them profit by your own.
Receive from all, in order to be able to give to all. Borrow
humility from one, obedience from another, union with God, and the
practice of mortification from others.

By charity we store up in ourselves the gifts of grace enjoyed by
every member of the community, in order to dispense them to all by
a happy commerce and admirable exchange.

As the bee draws honey from the sweetest juices contained in each
flower; as the artist studies the masterpieces to reproduce their
marvellous tints in pictures which, in their turn, become models;
as a mirror placed in a focus receives the rays of brilliancy from
a thousand others placed around it to re-invest them with a
dazzling brilliancy, so happy is the community whose members
multiply themselves, so to say, by mutually esteeming, loving,
admiring, and imitating each other in what is good.

This spontaneity of virtues exercises on all the members a
constant and sublime ministry of mutual edification and reciprocal



IN order to excite ourselves to fraternal charity, let us try and
picture that of God for us. After having had us present in His
thoughts from all eternity, He has called us from nothingness to

He Himself formed man's body, and, animating it with a breath,
enclosed in it an immortal soul, created to His own image.
Scarcely arrived on the threshold of life, we found an officer
from His court an angel deputed to protect, accompany, and conduct
us in triumph to our heavenly inheritance.

What a superb palace He has prepared for us in this world,
supplied with a prodigious variety of flowers, fruits, and animals
which He has placed at our disposal!

We were a fallen race, and He sent His Son to raise us and save us
from hell, which we merited. The Word was made flesh. He took a
body and soul like ours, thus ennobling and deifying, so to speak,
our human nature. Before ascending to His heavenly Father, after
having been immolated for us on the Cross, for fear of leaving us
orphans, He wished to remain amongst us in the Holy Eucharist, to
nourish us with His flesh, and to infuse into our hearts His
Divine Spirit as the living promise and the delicious foretaste of
the felicity and glory which He went to prepare for us in His

Truly, O God, You treat us not only with a paternal love, but with
an infinite respect and honour; and cannot I love and honour those
whom You have thus honoured and loved Yourself? Why do not these
thoughts inflame my charity in the fire of your Divine love? My
brethren and myself are children of God and members of Jesus
Christ. My brethren have their angels, who are companions of my
angel. One day my brethren will be my companions in glory,
chanting eternally the Divine praises. It is but a short time
since, with them, I partook of the heavenly banquet of the Most
Holy Sacrament, and to-morrow shall do so again.



LET us now admire the charity of our Divine Saviour while on

If wine was wanting at a feast; if fishermen laboured in vain
during the night; if a vast crowd knew not where to procure food
in the desert; if unfortunate persons were possessed by devils or
deprived of the use of their limbs; if death deprived a father of
his daughter, or a widow of an only son, Jesus was there to supply
what was wanting, to give back what was lost, or to sweeten all
their griefs. Sometimes He forestalled the petition by curing
before being asked, or by exciting the wavering faith. He
generally went beyond the demands of the petitioners. He was
always ready to interrupt His meal, to go to a distance, or to
quit His solitude. Nicodemus, as yet trembling and timid, came to
find Jesus during the night, and He did not hesitate to sacrifice
His sleep by prolonging the conversation. The Samaritan woman was
not beneath His notice, although He was fatigued after a long
journey. He lavished with prodigality His caresses on the children
who pressed around Him. When the crowd was so great that the poor
woman with the flow of blood could not come within reach of His
hand, He caused an all-powerful virtue to set out from Him, and a
simple touch of the hem of His garment supplied instead.

With what charming grace His benefits were accompanied! "Zacheus,
come down quickly, for I will abide this day in thy house." Who
more than He excelled in the art of making agreeable surprises? In
His apparitions to Magdalen, to the holy women, to the disciples
at Emmaus, did He not pay well for the ointment, the tears, and
the perfumes, and the hospitality He received from them? Who is
not moved with emotion when he sees his Lord preparing a meal for
the Apostles on the lake-shore, or asking Peter thrice to give him
an opportunity of publicly repairing his triple denial, "Lovest
thou Me?"

Who would not be moved when he hears what St. Clement relates
having heard it from St. Peter that our Lord was accustomed to
watch like a mother with her children near His disciples during
their sleep to render them any little service?

O Jesus! the sweetest, the most amiable, the most charitable of
the children of men, make me a sharer in Your mildness, Your love,
and Your charity.



_How to fortify ourselves against uncharitable conversations, the
principal danger to fraternal charity_

TO meditate on what the Holy Scripture says of it: "Place, O Lord,
a guard before my mouth" (Ps. cxl.)--a vigilant sentinel, well
armed, to watch, and, if necessary, to arrest in the passing out
any unbecoming word--"and a door before my lips," which, being
tightly closed, will never let an un charitable dart escape.

"Shut in your ears with a hedge of thorns," to counteract the
tongue, which would pour into them the poison of uncharitableness,
"and refuse to listen to the wicked tongue."

"Put before your mouth several doors and on your ears several
locks"--_i.e._, put doors upon doors and locks upon locks, because
the tongue is capable, in its fury, to force open the first door
and break the first lock. "Melt your gold and silver, and make for
your words a balance"--weighing them all before uttering
them--"and have for your mouth solid bridles which are tightly
held," for fear that the tongue, getting the better of your
vigilance, will break loose and do mischief in all directions.

Considering these many barriers and formidable checks, must we not
see the necessity of burying in a well-fortified prison that most
dangerous monster, the tongue? "Ah! truly death and life are in
the power of the tongue" (Prov. xviii.). "And although the sword
has been the instrument of innumerable murders, the tongue has at
all times beaten it in producing death" (Ecclus. xxviii.). "It
forms but a small part of the body, and has done mighty evil: as
the helm badly directed causes the wreck of a fine ship, and as a
spark may enkindle a forest. . . . Unquiet evil, inflamed
firebrand, source of deadly poison, world of iniquity" (St. James



_To meditate on what the Saints say_

ST. BONAVENTURE relates that St. Francis of Assisi said to his
religious one day: "Uncharitable conversation is worse than the
assassin, because it kills souls and becomes intoxicated with
their blood. It is worse than the mad dog, because it tears out
and drags on all sides the living entrails of the neighbour. It is
worse than the unclean animal, because it wallows in the filth of
vices and makes its favourite pasture there. It is worse than
Cham, because it exposes everywhere the nasty spots which soil the
face of religion--its mother."

St. Bernard goes further: "Do not hesitate to regard the tongue of
the backbiter as more cruel than the iron of the lance which
pierced our Saviour's side, because it not only pierces His sacred
side, but one of His living members also, to whom by its wound it
gives death. It is more cruel than the thorns with which His
venerable head was crowned and torn, and even than the nails with
which the wicked Jews fastened His sacred hands and feet to the
Cross, because if our Divine Saviour did not esteem more highly
the member of His mystic body (which is pierced by the foul tongue
of the slanderer) than His own natural body formed by the
operation of the Holy Ghost in the chaste womb of the Virgin Mary,
He would never have consented to deliver the latter to ignominies
and outrages to spare the former."

Now St. Francis and St. Bernard are here speaking to religious. Is
it possible, then, for backbiting to glide into religious
communities? Yes, certainly. And it is by this snare that Satan
catches souls which have escaped all others.

St. Jerome says: "There are few who avoid this fault. Amongst
those even who pride themselves on leading an irreproachable life,
you will scarcely find any who do not criticize their brethren."

Rarely, without doubt, but too often, nevertheless, we calumniate
at first secretly or with one or two friends, afterwards openly
and in public. We speak of the mistakes, shortcomings, and
defects, great and small, and sometimes transmit them as a legacy.
Sometimes we use a moderate hypocrisy by purposely letting
ourselves be questioned, and sometimes brutally attack our victim
without shame.

"Have I, then," may the religious thus attacked say, "in making my
vows renounced my honour and delivered my character to pillage?
Has my position as religious, has the majesty of the King of
Kings, of whom I have become the intimate friend, in place of
ennobling me, degraded me? You call yourselves my brethren, and
yet there are none who esteem me less! You would not steal my
money, and yet you make no scruple of stealing my character, a
thousand times more precious. You pay court to your Saviour and
persecute His child! The same tongue on which reposes the Holy of
Holies spreads poison and death! Is this to be the result of your
study and practice of virtue? Has not Jesus Christ, by so many
Communions, placed a little sweetness on your tongue and a little
charity in your heart? By eating the Lamb have you become wolves?
as St. John Chrysostom reproached the clergy of Antioch. And you,
who fly so carefully the gross vices of the world, have you no
care or anxiety about damning yourself by slander?"



_To guard the tongue_

THIS must be done especially in five circumstances: (1) At the
change of Superiors. Do not criticize the outgoing Superior nor
flatter the new one. (2) When you replace another religious. Never
by word or act cast any blame on him. Inexperience, or a desire to
introduce new customs, sometimes causes this to be done. (3) When
you are getting old. Because then we are apt to think--
erroneously, of course--that the young members growing up are
incapable of fulfilling duties once accomplished by ourselves. (4)
When religious come from another house do not ask questions which
they ought not to answer, and do not tell them anything which
might prejudice or disgust them with the house or anyone in it.
Lastly, in our interviews with our particular friends we must be
very cautious. There are some who, when anything goes amiss with
them, always seek the company of their confidants. These should
seriously examine before God whether it is a necessary comfort in
affliction or a support in weakness, or the too human satisfaction
of justifying themselves, giving vent to their feelings, or
getting blame and criticism for the Superior or some one else.
They should also examine whether on such occasions they speak the
exact truth, and whether they seek a friend, who knows how to take
the arrow sweetly from the wound rather than to bury it deeper.

The way to find out the gravity of the sin of detraction is--(1)
To consider the position of him who speaks and the weight which is
attached to his words; (2) the position of him who is spoken
about, and the need he has of his reputation; (3) the evil thing
said; (4) the number of the hearers; (5) the result of the
detraction; and, lastly, the intention of the speaker, and the
passion which was the cause of it.



_To be on our guard with certain persons_

THERE are six sorts of religious who wound fraternal charity more
or less fatally, (1) Those who say to you, "Such a one said
so-and-so about you." These are the sowers of discord, whom God
Almighty declares He has in abomination. Their tongues have three
fangs more terrible than a viper. "With one blow," says St.
Bernard, "they kill three persons--themselves, the listeners, and
the absent." (2) Those who, obscuring and perverting this amiable
virtue, possess the infernal secret of transforming it into vice.
Is not this to sin against the Holy Ghost? (3) Those who skilfully
turn the conversation on those brethren of whom they are jealous,
in order to have all put in a bad word. They thus double the fault
they apparently wish to avoid. (4) Those who constantly have their
ears cocked to hear domestic news, who are skilful in finding out
secrets and picking up stories, whose trade seems to be to take
note of all little bits of scandalous news going, and to take them
from ear to ear, or, worse, from house to house. Oh, what an
occupation! What a recreation for a spouse of Christ! (5) Those
who, under pretext of enlivening the conversation, sacrifice their
brethren to the vain and cruel wantonness of witticism by relating
something funny in order to give a lash of their tongue or to
expose some weakness. Alas! they forget that they ruin themselves
in the esteem and opinion of the hearers. (6) Critics of
intellectual work. On this point jealousy betrays itself very
easily on one side, and susceptibility is stirred on the other.
The heart is never insensible nor the mouth silent when we are
wounded in so delicate a part. It is evident, besides, that in
this case the blame supposes a desire of praise, and that in
proportion as we endeavour to lower our brethren we try to raise
ourselves. All these religious ought to be regarded as pests in
the community.

If we call those who maintain fraternal charity the children of
God, should not those who disturb it be called the children of
Satan? Do they not endeavour to turn the abode of peace into a den
of discord, and the sanctuary of prayer into a porch of hell?



_To be cautious in letter-writing and visiting_

GREAT care must be taken never to repeat anything at visits or in
letters which might compromise the honour of the community or any
of its members.

Never utter a word or write a syllable which might in the least
degree diminish the esteem or lower the merit of anyone. Every
well-reared person knows that little family secrets must be kept
under lock and key.

St. Jane Frances de Chantal writes: "To mention rashly outside the
community without great necessity the faults of religious would be
great impudence. Never relate outside, even to ecclesiastics,
frivolous complaints and lamentations without foundation, which
serve only to bring religion, and those who govern therein, into
disrepute. Certainly, we ought to be jealous of the honour and
good odour of religious houses, which are the family of God. Guard
this as an essential point which requires restitution."



_Caution in communication with superiors_

IN communications made to Superiors say the exact truth, and for a
good purpose. Do not speak into other ears that which, strictly
speaking, should only be told to the local Superior or
Superior-General. With the exception of extraordinary cases, or
when it refers to a bad habit or something otherwise irremediable,
there is generally little charity and less prudence in telling the
Superior-General of something blameable which has occurred. Do not
reveal, even before a Superior, confidences which conscience,
probity, or friendship requires to be guarded with an inviolable
seal of friendship. If we write a complaint about a personal
offence, lessen it rather than exaggerate, and endeavour to praise
the person for good qualities, because nothing is easier than to
blacken entirely another's reputation.

Pray and wait till your emotion be calmed. When passion holds the
pen, it is no longer the ink that flows, but spleen, and the pen
is transformed into a sword.

Before speaking or writing to the Superior it would be well to put
this question to ourselves: "Am I one of those proud spirits who
expose the faults of others in order to show off their own
pretended virtues? or jealous spirits who are offended at the
elevation of others? or vindictive spirits who like to give tit
for tat? or polite spirits who wish to appear important? or
ill-humoured, narrow-minded spirits, scandalized at trifles? or
credulous, inconsiderate spirits who believe and repeat
everything--the bad rather than the good? In fine, am I a
hypocrite who, clothing malice with the mantle of charity, and
hiding a cruel pleasure under the veil of compassion, weep with
the victim they intend to immolate, as though profoundly touched
by his misfortune, and seem to yield only to the imperative
demands of duty and zeal?"



_Caution in doubtful cases_

ACT with the greatest reserve in doubtful cases where grave
suspicions, difficult to be cleared up, rest on a religious
superior or inferior, as the case may be.

The ears of the Superior are sacred, and it is unworthy
profanation to pour into them false or exaggerated reports. To
infect the Superior's ears is a greater crime than to poison the
drinking fountain or to steal a treasure, because the only
treasure of religious is the esteem of their Superior, and the
pure water which refreshes their souls is the encouraging and
benevolent words of the same Superior.

Some, by imprudence or under the influence of a highly coloured or
impressionable imagination which carries everything to extremes
(we would not say through malice), render themselves often guilty
of crying acts of injustice and ruin a religious. What is
uncertain they relate as certain, and what is mere conjecture they
take as the base of grave suspicions. Several facts which, taken
individually, constitute scarcely a fault, they group together,
and so make a mountain out of a few grains of sand. An act which,
seen in its entirety, would be worthy of praise, they mutilate in
such a fashion as to show it in an unfavourable light. Enemies of
the positive degree, they lavish with prodigality the words
_often, very much, exceedingly,_ etc. When they have only one or
two witnesses, they make use of the word _everybody_, thereby
leaving you under the impression that the rumour is scattered
broadcast. On such statements, how can a Superior pronounce



_To check uncharitable conversation in others_

WHEN you see charity wounded by an equal call him to order.

If to say or do anything scandalous is the first sin forbidden by
charity, not to stop, when you can, him who speaks or acts badly
ought to be considered the second.

When the discourse degenerates, represent Jesus Christ entering
suddenly into the midst of the company, and saying, as He did
formerly to the disciples of Emmaus: "What discourse hold you among
yourselves, and why are you sad?" Recall also these words of the
Psalmist: "You have preferred to say evil rather than good, and to
relate vices rather than virtues. O deceitful, inconsiderate, and
rash tongue! Dost thou think thou wilt remain unpunished? No; God
will punish thee in everlasting flames." After having thus
fortified ourselves against uncharitable conversation, we ought to
try and put a stop to it.

St. John Climacus tells us to address the following words to those
who calumniate in our presence: "For mercy's sake cease such
conversation! How would you wish me to stone my brethren--me,
whose faults are greater and more numerous?"

A holy religious replied to an uncharitable person: "We have to
render infinite thanks to God if we are not such as those of whom
you speak. Alas! what would become of us without Him?"

The philosopher Zeno, hearing a man relate a number of misdeeds
about Antisthenes, said to him: "Ah! Has he never done anything
good? Has he never done anything for which he merits praise?" "I
don't know," he replied. Then said Zeno, "How is that? You have
sufficient perception to remark, and sufficient memory to
remember, this long list of faults, and you have had no eyes to
see his many good qualities and virtuous actions."

St. John Chrysostom says: "To the calumniator I wish you to say
the following: If you can praise your neighbours, my ears are open
to receive your perfume. If you can only blacken them, my ears are
closed, as I do not wish them to be the receptacle of your filthy
words. What matters it to me to hear that such a one is wicked,
and has done some detestable act? Friend, think of the account
that must be rendered to the Sovereign Judge. What excuse can we
give, and what mercy will we deserve--we who have been so
keen-sighted to the faults of others, and so blind to our own? You
would consider it very rude for a person to look into your private
room; but I say it is far worse to pry into another's private life
and to expose it.

The calumniator should remember that, besides the fault he commits
and the wrong he does to his neighbours, he exposes himself, by a
just punishment of God, to be the victim of calumny himself.



_How to check uncharitable conversation in superiors, etc._

WHEN we see charity wounded by persons worthy of respect, keep
silent, in order to show your regret, or relate something to the
advantage of the absent. If necessary, withdraw.

It is related in the life of Sister Margaret, of the Blessed
Sacrament of the Carmelite Order, that when a discourse against
charity took place in the house she saw a smoke arise of such
suffocating odour that she nearly fainted, and fled immediately to
her Divine Master for pardon.

St. Jerome, writing to Nepotian on this subject, says: "Some
object that they cannot warn the speaker of his fault without
failing in the respect due to him. This excuse is vain, because
their eagerness to listen increases his itch for speaking. No one
wishes to relate calumnies and murmurs to ears closed with
disgust. Is there anyone so foolish as to shoot arrows against a
stone wall?" Let your strict silence be a significant and salutary
lesson for the detractor. "Have no commerce with those who bite,"
said Solomon, because perdition is on the eve of overtaking them;
and who can tell the disaster and ruin with which the rash
detractor and equally blamable listener are threatened?

If it be true, according to the testimony of a religious who was
visitor of the houses of his Order, that the virtue against which
one can most easily commit a grievous sin in religion is charity;
and, according to St. Francis de Sales, sins of the tongue number
three-fourths of all sins committed; cannot it be said with equal
truth that to refuse to listen to detractors is with one blow to
prevent the sin and safeguard charity?

In many cases one can adroitly make known the good qualities and
virtues which more than counterbalance the defects related by the
defamer. To act thus is to spread about the good odour of Christ.



_Be cautious after hearing uncharitable conversation_

AFTER having heard uncharitable words, observe the following
precautions given by the Saints:

1. Repeat nothing.

2. Believe all the good you hear, but believe only the bad you
see. Malice does the contrary. It demands proofs for good reports,
but believes bad reports on the slightest grounds. Out of every
thousand reports one can scarcely be found accurate in all its
details. When, as a rule of prudence, Superiors are told to
believe only half of what they hear, to consider the other half,
and still suspect the remaining part, what rule should be
prescribed for inferiors?

When the act is evidently blameworthy, suppose a good intention,
or at least one not so bad as apparent, leaving to God what He
reserves to Himself the judgment of the heart; or consider it as
the result of surprise, inadvertence, human frailty, or the
violence of the temptation. Never come to hasty conclusions--
_e.g._, "He is incorrigible; as he is, so will he always be."
Expect everything from grace, efforts, and time.

3. Efface as much as possible the bad impression produced on the
mind, because calumny always produces such.

The recital of something bad about a fellow-religious based on
probabilities has sufficed to tarnish a reputation which ample
apologies cannot fully repair. The detractor's evil reports are
believed on account of the audacity with which he relates them,
but when he wants to relate something good he will not be believed
on oath. We know by experience that evil reports spread with
compound interest, while good ones are retailed at discount.



_Not to judge or suspect rashly_

EXPEL every doubt, every thought, likely to diminish esteem. They
amuse themselves with a most dangerous game who always gather up
vague thoughts of the past, rumours without foundation,
conjectures in which passion has the greatest share, and thus form
in their minds characters of their brethren--adding always, never
subtracting--and by dint of the high idea they have of their own
ability conclude that all their judgments are true, and thus
become fixed in their bad habit. St. Bernard, comparing them to
painters, warns them that it is the devil who furnishes the
materials, and even the evil conceptions, necessary to depict such
bad impressions of their brethren. We read in the "Life of St.
Francis" that our Lord Himself called in a distinct voice a
certain young man to his Order. "O Lord," replied the young man,
"when I am once entered, what must I do to please You?" Pay
particular attention to our Lord's answer: "Lead thou a life in
common with the rest. Avoid particular friendships. Take no notice
of the defects of others, and form no unfavourable judgments about
them." What matter for consideration in these admirable words!

Thomas à Kempis says: "Turn thy eyes back upon thyself, and see
thou judge not the doing of others. In judging others a man
labours in vain, often errs, and easily sins; but in judging and
looking into himself he always labours with fruit. We frequently
judge of a thing according to the inclination of our hearts,
because self-love easily alters in us a true judgment."

Rodriguez tells us to turn on ourselves the sinister questions,
etc., we are tempted to refer to others _e.g._: "It is I who am
deceived. It is through jealousy that I condemn my brethren. It is
through malice that I find so much to blame in them. Finally, the
fault is mine, not theirs."

Even when reports more or less true might depreciate in your eyes
some of the community, may they not have, besides their faults,
some great but hidden virtues, and by these be entitled to a more
merciful judgment? St. Augustine says beautifully: "If you cast
your eye over a field where the corn has been trampled, you only
perceive the straw, not the grain. Lift up the straw, and you will
see plenty of golden sheaves full of grain." The simile is very
applicable to a poor religious beaten down by foul tongues. We
blame the defects of our brethren, and perhaps we have the same,
or others more shameful still. We usurp the right of judgment,
which God reserves to Himself, and forget that He will punish us
by leaving us to our own irregular passions. Ah! is it not already
a very great misfortune to have these contemptuous, slanderous,
distrustful thoughts, and many other sins, the result of malicious
suspicions and rash judgments, rooted in the soul?



WHAT must be done in those painful moments when, being the victim
of a painful calumny, the object of suspicion, the butt of
domestic persecution, we are tempted to believe that charity is
banished from the community, and so to banish it from our own
heart? Recall the words of St. John of the Cross. "Imagine," says
he, "that your brethren are so many sculptors armed with mallets
and chisels, and that you have been placed before them as a block
of marble destined in the mind of God to become a statue
representing the Man of Sorrows, Jesus crucified." Consider a
hasty word said to you as a thorn in the head; a mockery as a spit
in the face; an unkind act as a nail in the hand; a hatred which
takes the place of friendship as a lance in the side; all that
which hurts, contradicts, or humiliates us as the blows, stripes,
the gall and vinegar, the crown of thorns and the cross. The work
proceeds always, sometimes slowly, sometimes quickly. Let us not
complain. We will one day thank these workmen, who, without
intending it, give to our soul the most beautiful, the most
glorious, and the noblest traits. We ourselves are sculptors as
well as statues, and we will find that, on our part, we have
materially helped to form in them the same traits.

"If all were perfect," says the "Imitation," "what, then, should
we have to suffer from others for God's sake?"

It is not forbidden us to seek consolation. But from whom? Is it
from those discontented spirits whose ears are like public sewers,
the receptacle of every filth and dirt? They increase our pain by
pouring the poison of their own discontent instead of the oil of
the Good Samaritan. They will take our disease and give us theirs,
and, like Samson's foxes, spread destruction around by repeating
what we said to them. May God preserve us from this misfortune! If
we cannot carry our burden alone, and if we find it no relief to
lay our griefs in the Sacred Heart of Jesus, let us go to him whom
the rule appoints to be our friend and consoler, our confidant and
director, and who, as St. Augustine relates of St. Monica, after
having listened to us with patience, charity, and compassion,
after having at first appeared to share our sentiments, will
sweeten and explain all with prudence, will lift up and encourage
our oppressed heart, and by his counsel and prayers will restore
us to peace and charity.



RECALL the words of our Lord to Blessed Margaret Mary: "With the
intention of perfecting thee by patience I will increase thy
sensibility and repugnance, so that thou wilt find occasions of
humiliation and suffering even in the smallest and most
indifferent things."

What would be considered, when we were in the world, as the prick
of a needle, we look upon in religion as the blow of a sword. What
we looked upon in our own house as light as a feather, becomes in
community life as heavy as a rock. An insignificant word becomes
an outrage, and a little matter which formerly would escape our
notice now upsets us, and even deprives us of sleep and appetite.
Is not this increase of sensibility and repugnance found in the
religious state only to form in us the image of our crucified
Lord? If Christ alone has suffered interiorly more than all the
Saints and Martyrs together, was it not because of this extreme
repugnance of His soul, which multiplied to infinity for Him the
bitterness of the affronts and the rigour of His torments?
Religious may expect for a certainty that, like their Divine
Master, there are reserved for them moments of complete
abandonment, those agonies intended for the souls of the elect, in
which Nature seems on the point of succumbing. No consolation from
their families, which they have quitted; nor from their
companions, who are busy in their various employments; nor from
their Superiors, who do not understand the excess of their grief,
and whose words by Divine permission produce no effect.

The solemn moment of agony with our Divine Saviour was that in
which, abandoned, betrayed, and denied by His Apostles, and
perceiving in His Father only an irritated face, He exclaimed, "My
God! My God! why hast Thou forsaken Me?" Such will be for
religious the last touch which will complete in them the
resemblance of Jesus crucified, provided they will render
themselves worthy of it.

When will be the time of this complete abandonment? How long will
this agony be prolonged? This is a secret known only to God.



POVERTY, chastity, obedience, and charity--such are the virtues
suitable and characteristic of the religious. In this little
treatise we have endeavoured to trace the features of the last.

In every community we can distinguish two sorts of religious--
those who mount and those who descend--those whose face is towards
the path of perfection, and those who have turned their back to
it. Perhaps amongst these latter some have only one more step to
abandon it altogether. Now we mount or descend, proceed or retrace
our steps, in proportion as we practise these four virtues or
neglect them.

A religious Order is like a fire balloon, which requires four
conditions in order to rise into the clouds amidst the applause of
the spectators. First, the rarefaction of the air by fire. This
represents the vow of poverty, which empties the heart through the
hands, and substitutes the desire of heavenly goods for those of
earth. Second, release from the cords which bind it down. This
represents the effects of the vow of chastity, which, by breaking
human attachments, permits us to soar towards God with freedom and
rapidity. Third, a man who will feed the fire and moderate the
flight of the balloon upwards. This represents the right which the
vow of obedience places in the hands of the Superior, to nourish
the sacred fire, and direct the sublime movement of the soul and
foresee dangers. Fourth, the union of its component parts. This
represents the operations of charity, in causing all the members
of a community to have but one heart and one soul.

Possessing these four virtues, a religious Order soars in the
heights of perfection; but if one of these be wanting it falls
helplessly, and is no longer an object of edification, but of
scandal and ridicule.

When it happens that some members, losing the spirit of their
state, abandon their holy vocation, we may say with St. John:
"They went out from us; but they were not of us. For if they had
been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but that
they might be made manifest that they are not all of us" (1 John
ii.). They appeared to have the religious virtues, but in reality
one or all were wanting to them.

O God, do not permit that lukewarmness or an uncontrolled passion
will ever make me waver in my vocation. During life and at death I
wish to remain a faithful religious, so that I may find the
salvation which Thou hast promised by procuring Thy glory. As good
grain improves by pulling up the weeds, and the body becomes
healthy when purged of bad humours, pour into my soul the grace
and unction which others refuse, in order that, practising more
perfectly from day to day poverty, chastity, obedience, and
charity, and redoubling my ardour and zeal to my last hour, I may
obtain the priceless treasure promised to those who have quitted
all to follow Thee. Amen.



1. OFTEN reflect on some good point in each of your brethren.

2. Reflect on the opposite faults in yourself.

3. Do this most in the case of those whom we are most inclined to

4. Never claim rights or even let ourselves feel that we have
them, as this spirit is most fatal both to obedience and charity.

5. Charitable thoughts are the only security of charitable deeds
and words. They save us from surprises, especially from surprises
of temper.

6. Never have an aversion for another, much less manifest it.

7. Avoid particular friendships.

8. Never judge another. Always, if possible, excuse the faults we
see, and if we cannot excuse the action, excuse the intention. We
cannot all think alike, and we should, therefore, avoid
attributing bad motives to others.


They have a disregard of self and a desire to accommodate others.
They rejoice with their companions in their joys and recreations,
and grieve with them in their afflictions.

They try to bring all the good they can to the community and to
avert all the evil. They begin with themselves, by being as little
trouble as possible to others.

With great charity and affability they bear with the faults and
shortcomings of others, careful to fulfil the law of Christ, which
tells us to bear one another's burdens.

They dispense to others what they have for their own advantage;
more particularly do they give spiritual assistance by prayer and
the other spiritual works of mercy.

They never contradict anyone. They never speak against anyone.
They are convinced that charity, holy friendships, and concord
form the great solace of this life, and that no good ever came
from dissensions and disputes.

They consider that God is ever in the midst of those who live
united together by the bonds of holy love.

We will do likewise if we consider the image of God in the souls
of our brethren. As we form one body here and one spirit in the
same faith and charity, let us hope not to be separated hereafter,
but to belong for ever to that one body in heaven when faith and
hope shall disappear, but where charity alone shall remain, and
remain for ever.


_R. & T. Washbourne, Ltd., 1, 2 & 4 Paternoster Row_

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