Governing With Compassion

St. Francis Borgia was very strict with himself, but most compassionate and kind to his subjects; so that although he would not excuse himself for the slightest defect, he would pardon very many in them. In giving an order, he would never speak sharply, but would say, with great sweetness: “I entreat you to do this for the love of God. Would you have any difficulty in going to such a place? Would it be convenient for you to do such a thing? I had thought of giving you such a charge, but I would like to know whether it would be agreeable to you.”

St. Jerome relates of St. Paula that when she was governing a convent built by herself, she failed in none of her obligations, and never asked anything of her daughters which she had not first practised herself; and she showed her authority only by her care in providing for all their wants, by serving them in all their needs, and by leading them to the practice of virtue. She was never absent from choir, but always among the first to arrive; in the work of the house, she was the most attentive and the most laborious. In regard to others’ faults, if any failed in exercises of piety; if any one was slothful in corporal exercises; if any one was careless about her employment, — she brought all back to their duty, managing them in different ways, according to their disposition, — if passionate, with caresses; if patient, with correction.

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

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