The Protection of Men

Be careful not to depend or rely much upon the friendship and protection of men. For they cannot sustain us by themselves; and when the Lord sees us leaning upon them, He withdraws from us. -St. Vincent de Paul

This holy man not only refrained from seeking human support, but even refused it when spontaneously offered to him. One day, the governor of a city asked his influence at court, in favor of a certain affair, and promised that he would in return protect his missionaries against any who might molest them. But the Saint made this reply: “Whenever I can do it with justice, I will serve you willingly. As for the interests of my Congregation, I beg you to leave them in the hands of God and justice.” It was a rule with him not to seek anything by the influence and favor of men.

St. Jane Frances de Chantal was of the same opinion. Her brother, the Archbishop of Bruges, once wrote to her that in an interview he had just had with the Queen of France, she showed a desire for her prayers and those of her Order. He urged her, therefore, to write to the queen, who, he said, would be much pleased with the attention. The same advice was given her by many persons, both inside and outside of the convent; but she would not receive it, and wrote to her brother a letter of excuse, begging him to assure the queen that she and all her nuns would not fail to recommend her to the Lord. She spoke of the matter in this way to her Religious: “I cannot and must not do it, for we ought to keep ourselves too much abased and hidden, to seek by human invention to retain a place in the hearts of the great. If we study to do our duty in regard to them before God, by praying for their safety, their prosperity, and, above all, their salvation; God, who has undertaken the charge of us, will bring us to their minds when we need their help, and will incline their hearts towards us.”

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

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