Presence of God – O Lord, who art mildness itself, teach me meekness of heart and mildness in my dealings with others.
Mildness is the flower of charity, a participation in that infinite sweetness with which God guides and governs all things. There is no one who has a greater desire for our good, for our sanctification, than God; yet He never uses harshness, severity, or violence. With a sovereignly gentle power He sustains our efforts, always respecting our liberty, always waiting for our acceptance of grace with infinite patience and mildness. The Gospel describes the mildness of Jesus in these words: “He shall not contend, nor cry out, neither shall any man hear His voice in the streets. The bruised reed He shall not break: and the smoking flax He shall not extinguish” (Mt 12:19-20). The Pharisees murmured because they saw Him eating with publicans and sinners. He said to them: “Go then and learn what this meaneth: I will have mercy and not sacrifice. For I am not come to call the just, but sinners” (ibid. 9:13). The Apostles were ready to call down fire from heaven upon the Samaritans who rejected the Master, but He rebuked them, saying, “You know not of what spirit you are. The Son of Man came not to destroy souls, but to save” (Lk 9:55-56). And to souls fighting against their miseries, feeling the weight and weariness of the daily struggle, He says: “Come to Me, all you that labor, and are burdened, and I will refresh you … for My yoke is sweet, and My burden light” (Mt 11:28-30). Our Lord’s infinite charity makes His yoke sweet and His burden light, radiating as it does, sweetness and mildness everywhere.
Fraternal charity should expand in this spirit of sweetness and soothe the wounds of others rather than aggravate them. It should facilitate the accomplishment of duties, making them easier rather than more difficult. Charity uses this mildness with everyone, even with those who are stubborn, or slow in their response to kindness, and with the weak who fall repeatedly into the same faults. Given but a little good in a person, we must surround this little with the loving care that will help it develop, for one who has learned the mildness of Jesus “will not extinguish the smoking flax.”
“O Lord Jesus, when You died on the Cross Your heart was so filled with kindness toward us and You loved us so tenderly, even though we ourselves were the cause of Your death, that You had but one thought: to obtain pardon for Your executioners, even while they tortured You and cruelly insulted You. Help me, I beg You, to endure my neighbors, faults and imperfections with kindness.
To those who despise me or murmur against me, teach me to reply with humility, mildness, and a steadfast kindness of heart, never defending myself in any way. For love of You, I desire to let everyone say what he wishes, because words are not of value but love is, and he who loves more will be more loved and glorified. Help me, then, my Jesus, to love You; help me to love creatures for love of You, especially those who despise me, without letting myself be disturbed by their contempt, but applying myself to the practice of humility and mildness; then You will be my reward.
“Teach me to comport myself always with mildness and sweetness, and never to disrupt peace with anyone. All that I can do and obtain with love I will do, but what I cannot do or procure without a dispute, I will let it be. Help me to make use of the repugnances and aversions I encounter in my contacts with others to practice the virtue of mildness, and to show myself loving with all, even with those who are opposed to me, or who are a cause of aversion.
“Finally, I purpose with Your help, O most lovable God, to apply myself to acquire kindness of heart toward my neighbor by thinking of him as Your creature, destined to enjoy You some day in Paradise. Those whom You tolerate, O Lord God, it is but just that I, too, tolerate them tenderly and with great compassion for their spiritual infirmities” (St. Francis de Sales).
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Art: Saint François de Sales, statue de l’église Saint-Germain de Paris, Rouffignac-Saint-Cernin-de-Reilhac, Dordogne, France; Père Igor, 19 September 2010, own work, CCA-SA 3.0 Unported, Wikimedia Commons. Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, mirror from open source material.