PIETY AND PIETISM
[continued from yesterday]
...the mere consciousness that he is beside us banishes what spiritual feelings we may have cherished.
This is undoubtedly true. Undoubtedly there are pious people who do get upon our nerves, even when piety alone is considered. But let us see who they are.
To begin with, there are the beginners; not all, but some are a trial, even as are most beginners of almost every kind. If they are true beginners they are sure to be enthusiastic; and the enthusiastic, to those who are not, are always something of a trial.
Again, if they are beginners, they are bound to be awkward; they are bound to overdo their part; they are bound to make mistakes; in all this they are something of a trouble. Beginners again, either ask too many questions from their eagerness to learn or else, because of their inexperience, are liable to make sweeping statements; in all this they can offend.
But these are not half so bad as those who are older. There are some pious people on whom piety acts like starch. They would seem to have taken their models from stained glass windows, not from the saints they represent. Their ideal of spotlessness is a white marble statue, not a red human heart. Their method of devotion is ready-made, turned out Piety and Piettsm by machinery; it is not made to each individual's measure.
Their dealings with others are puritanical; it begins by looking for flaws, it condemns whenever it can, it yields to no one's weakness, it judges all by standards of its own. These are the people who try us; the "unco guid," as the genial poet has called them, or else the "unco dense" who cannot see other points of view than one....
From The School of Love and Other Essays
by The Most Reverend Alban Goodier, S.J.
Burns, Oates, & Washburn, Ltd. 1918