Thought for the Day – 30 September – Christian Modesty

Thought for the Day – 30 September – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)

Christian Modesty

“We are told, that one day in the presence of St Francis de Sales, the beauty of a certain noble lady, his cousin, was being described. (Spirito p Vii, c 10)
The Saint described with simplicity: “I’ve heard this said by others also.”
Somebody remarked, that he himself often saw this young relative of his and, therefore, there was no need for others to tell him about her.
The Saint replied with the same holy simplicity: “It is true that I see her often but, I never stare at her.”
This simple but wise reply, underlines the difference between seeing and looking.

We are often obliged, in the ordinary course of living, or by reason of our position, to see many things which could be dangerous to our spiritual welfare.
There are many ugly things around us, although sometimes externally beautiful, which we cannot help seeing.
At home, on the street, in society, almost everywhere, we meet persons and things which constitute a threat to our virtue.
What are we to do?
We must see because, very often, we cannot help it but, we must never stare.

In other words, we should never fix our eyes on anything which would seriously disturb us.
If we experience the beginnings of any such disturbance, we should look elsewhere at once, raising our minds to God in silent prayer.
Delay could cost us our purity.
To guard it, we need the holy virtue of modesty, which St Thomas Aquinas calls, the moderating virtue (Summa Theologiae, II-II, q 160, a 1).
Not only, the Angelic Doctor observes, does it moderate but, it also directs our internal actions as well as our external ones, in such a way, that he, who possesses this beautiful virtue, has perfect control over his outward behaviour and over his inward dispositions (Ibid, q 160, a 2).”

Antonio Cardinal Bacci


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