The Tranquility of the Meek

There are some characters which appear very gentle as long as everything goes well with them; but at the touch of any adversity or contradiction, they are immediately enkindled, and begin to throw forth smoke like a volcano. Such as these may be called burning coals hidden under ashes. This is not the meekness which our Lord aimed to teach, that He might make us like Himself. We ought to be like lilies among thorns, which, though they come from amid such sharp points, do not cease to be smooth and pliable. -St. Bernard

This test shows how true was the meekness of St. Francis de Sales, for it is recorded of him that the more he was ill-treated, the more tranquil he appeared. It may be said that he found peace in war, roses among thorns, and sweetness amidst the greatest bitterness.

One day, when the Saint was preaching, two lawyers sent up to him a note full of insulting remarks, in the hope of breaking up the sermon. He took the paper, thinking it contained some notice to be given to the people, had the patience to read it through to himself, and then, undisturbed, went on with his sermon. When it was over and he had rested a little, he inquired of the cleric from whom he had received the note, and went to visit the two lawyers, one after the other. Without speaking of the letter, he begged them to say in what he had given them offence. When he heard the occasion, he assured them that he had never had the intention of doing so, and asked their pardon on his knees. This caused them much confusion, and they asked his pardon in turn. Thenceforth, they lived on the best terms with him, venerating, as they did, a virtue so heroic and Christian.

This virtue also shone forth in St. Jane Frances de Chantal. When she was, on various occasions, ill-treated by many, she never showed the least sign of resentment or displeasure, but in return gave presents to one, bestowed favors obtained from God or from persons of rank, upon another. Nor was her love for any of them diminished.

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

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