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Reflections On Kindness: Spiritual Exercise 05/09/22

Please join us Monday 05/09/2022 from 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm MT (8:30 pm to 10:00 pm ET). ✝️🕍

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Opening Prayer: The Memorare

REMEMBER, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly to thee, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother; to thee do I come; before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me.

Amen

Reflections on Kindness

Fr. Frederick William Faber (1814-1863)

“Man has considerable powers, considerable enough to leave him, as proprietor of this planet. He has one power in particular, which is not sufficiently dwelt on. It is the power of making the world happy, or, at least, of so greatly diminishing the amount of unhappiness in it as to make it quite a different world from what it is at present. This power is called kindness. 

The worst kinds of unhappiness, as well as the greatest amount of it, come from our conduct to each other. If our conduct, therefore, were under the control of kindness, it would be nearly the opposite of what it is, and so the state of the world would be almost reversed. We are for the most part unhappy because the world is an unkind world; but the world is only unkind for the lack of kindness in us who compose it. It is plainly worth our while to take some trouble to gain clear and definite notions of kindness. We practice more easily what we already know clearly. 

We must first ask ourselves what kindness is. Kindness is the overflowing of self upon others. We put others in the place of self. We treat them as we would wish to be treated ourselves. We change places with them. For the time self is another, and others are self.

We cannot speak of the virtues without thinking of God. Kindness is the coming to the rescue of others when they need it, and it is in our power to supply what they need, and this is the work of the attributes of God towards His creatures. (God is always doing this with us.)

Kindness is also like Divine grace, for it gives men something which neither self nor Nature can give them. What it gives them is something of which they are in want, or something which only another person can give, such as consolation; and besides this, the manner in which this is given is a true gift in itself, better far than the thing given. Kindness adds sweetness to everything. It is kindness which makes life’s capabilities blossom, and paints them with their cheering hues, and endows them with their invigorating fragrance.

See how, turn which way we will, kindness is entangled with the thought of God! Last of all, the secret impulse out of which kindness acts is an instinct which is the noblest part of ourselves, the most undoubted remnant of the image of God which was given us at the first. We must, therefore, never think of kindness as being a common growth of our nature, common in the sense of its being of little value. It is the nobility of man. In all its modifications it reflects a heavenly type. It runs up into eternal mysteries. It is a Divine thing rather than a human one, and it is human because it springs from the soul of man just at the point where the Divine image was graven deepest. 

Each solitary kind action that is done the whole world over is working briskly in its own sphere to restore the balance between right and wrong. The more kindness there is on the earth at any given moment, the greater is the tendency of the balance between right and wrong to correct itself and remain in equilibrium. Nay, this is short of the truth. Kindness allies itself with right to invade the wrong and beat it off the earth.

This dear virtue is forever entering into God’s original dispositions as Creator. He meant the world to be a happy world, and kindness means it also. He gave it the power to be happy, and kindness was a great part of that very power. By His benediction He commanded creation to be happy; kindness, with its usual genial spirit of accommodation, now tries to persuade a world which has dared to disobey a Divine command. Kindness sees less clearly the ruin of God’s original idea than it sees still that first beneficent idea, and it sets to work to cleanse what is defiled and to restore what is defaced. It sorrows over sin, but, like buoyant-hearted men, it finds in its sorrow the best impulse of its activity. It is laboring always in ten thousand places, and the work at which it labors is always the same — to make God’s world more like His original conception of it. 

It is no less energetic and successful in preparing and enlarging His ways as Savior. It is constantly winning strayed souls back to Him, opening hearts that seemed obstinately closed, enlightening minds that had been willfully darkened, skillfully throwing the succors of hope into the strongholds that were on the point of capitulating to despair, lifting endeavor from low to high, from high to higher, from higher to highest. Everywhere kindness is the best pioneer of the Precious Blood. We often begin our own repentance by acts of kindness, or through them. Probably the majority of repentances have begun in the reception of acts of kindness, which, if not unexpected, touched men by the sense of their being so undeserved. Kindness has converted more sinners than either zeal, eloquence, or learning; and these three last have never converted anyone unless they were kind also.

What does kindness do for those to whom we show it? What we note first as of great consequence, is the immense power of kindness in bringing out the good points of the characters of others. Almost all men have more goodness in them than the ordinary intercourse of the world enables us to discover. Indeed, most men, from the glimpses we now and then obtain, carry with them to the grave much undeveloped nobility. Who has not seen how disagreeable and faulty characters will expand under kindness. It is wonderful what capabilities grace can find in the most unpromising character. 

Another work which our kindness does in the hearts of others is to encourage them in their efforts after good. We all of us need encouragement to do good. The path of virtue, even when it is not uphill, is rough and stony, and each day’s journey is a little longer than our strength admits of, only there are no means of shortening it. How many noble hearts have sunk under this not ignoble weariness! How many plans for God’s glory have fallen to the ground, which a bright look or a kind eye would have propped up. Oh, what a wretched thing it is to be unkind! 

I think, with the thought of the Precious Blood, I can better face my sins at the last judgment than my unkindness, with all its miserable fertility of evil consequences. But if we have no notion of the far-reaching mischief which unkindness does, so neither can we rightly estimate the good which kindness may do.

Moreover, kindness is infectious. No kind action ever stopped with itself. One kind action leads to another. By one we commit ourselves to more than one. Our example is followed. The single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make fresh trees.

  1. Do you have an experience of kindness that radically changed your life or made a life-changing difference?
  2. Listen for Fr. Flanagan’s story of Calvary and Kindness. What is the nature of the kindness Jesus shows on Calvary?
  3. What is your experience of seeing the impact of your own kindness on others.
  4. Stop and think of instances where you have experienced kindness from others. What are some of the effects it had on you interiorly? How did it make you feel?  How did it affect your responses and reactions both immediately and long-term?
  5. What’s the difference between kindness and “niceness?”

Please join us Monday 06/13/2022 for our next session. 

Mary, Queen of Peace, pray for us.

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