A Benefice Refused

A person of high rank presented himself to St. Francis de Sales, to ask a benefice for an ecclesiastic who enjoyed his patronage. The Saint replied that as to conferring benefices he had tied his own hands, for he had decided that they should be given only after a competitive examination; but that he would not forget his recommendation, if this priest would offer himself to be examined with the others. The gentleman, who was quick-tempered, believing this to be only a pretext for refusal, accused him of duplicity and hypocrisy, and even threatened him. . . . The gentleman began to raise his voice angrily, and to make all kinds of insulting remarks to the holy bishop, who bore all in unbroken silence.

An acquaintance of his, who was present, asked him, after the scene was over, how he had been able to endure such insults without showing the least resentment.

“Do not be astonished at this,” said the Saint, “for it was not he that spoke, but his anger. Outside of this he is one of my dearest friends, and you will see after a while that my silence will increase his attachment for me.”

“But did you not feel any resentment at all?” pursued the other.

“I turned my thoughts in another direction,” was the answer, “setting myself to consider the good qualities of this person, whose friendship I had previously so much enjoyed.”

The gentleman afterwards came and asked pardon, even with tears, and they became firmer friends than ever before.

Text from A Year With the Saints (New York: P.J. Kenedy & Sons, 1891).

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