PIETY AND PIETISM
[continued from yesterday]
...There are few who have not undergone this remarkable experience; let us own up to it and acknowledge that there are few who do not undergo it still. Yet surely the experience is remarkable; if philosophy, of every school but one, is correct, then goodness should attract, not repel, and a good man, a holy man, a pious man, should be always a treasure. How, then, are we to account for this apparent contradiction? Goodness is always attractive in theory; in practice, goodness, when it once takes hold of a man, seems to make him simply repelling.
In the first place let us be prepared to give and take; I mean, let us be prepared to own that there may be fault on both sides. The "good" man may be the intolerable bore that we think him, but it may also be that we ourselves are not whol1y without blame.
I once knew a man whom I thought pious and who occasionally got on my nerves; one day I discovered that he too actually thought me pious, and that accounted for much. He was trying to live up to what he thought my level, and I was giving him a very bad lead.
Or again there may be another cause. We are told that "Birds of a feather flock together;" we are also told that "Two of a trade cannot agree." Whatever be the truth of the first of these proverbs--proverbs are never more than partial truths--it is abundantly true that too much understanding, too great intimacy, tends to make us very critical. He is a great saint indeed who, on close acquaintance, does not give some matter for complaint; and the holier one may be in some respects, the more do we exact from him in others. If "no man is a hero to his valet," neither is any man a saint to his brother; for either the brother knows too much, or else his standard utterly excludes all defect....
From The School of Love and Other Essays
by The Most Reverend Alban Goodier, S.J.
Burns, Oates, & Washburn, Ltd. 1918