THE OTHER SIDE
[continued from yesterday]
...Then, as the visitor made no comment, he added: "Isn't he absurd, con sidering I am the Holy Ghost myself!"....
Now how many of us have a touch of this lunacy in ourselves? How many of us have not noticed that if we fancy ourselves in any way, if we think ourselves rather clever, or strong-willed, or brilliant, or pious, we are inclined to be hard on those who have a reputation for the same.
We do not like to own it; we are ashamed of ourselves when we discover it; but there is no more sure proof of vanity than the refusal to brook another star of our particular magnitude in our own horizon. Nor, we may add, is there any more sure proof that we are not that which we imagine ourselves to be.
Mere intellectual brilliance resents a rival; a really clever man welcomes the ability of another. Sham strength fears competition: a really strong man rejoices in the strength of a companion. Imitation sanctity must shine alone; a really holy man has no greater satisfaction than the discovery and promotion of another's holiness.
It is often said that the perfection of good manners consists in being perfectly natural and perfectly true. This explains why, in the opinion of very many, the contented poor are often the best-mannered people in the world. Whether the statement be true or not, a very little modification makes it safe.
Good manners are founded on a certain give and take. If we are ourselves, neither more nor less, if we take others for what they are, neither less nor more, if we adapt ourselves to them, and them to ourselves, without any presumption or arrogance, then we shall behave as we should.
This is the life that is true, in the exterior as well as within; and this is why, when we meet a saint, if we ever do, we shall be most struck, not by his sanctity, nor by his abstraction, but by the yielding deference of his manners. He appreciates the good he finds in others; he shows that good its due respect; and the consequent behaviour is one of those links which inseparably unite the saint with all mankind.
From The School of Love and Other Essays
by The Most Reverend Alban Goodier, S.J.
Burns, Oates, & Washburn, Ltd. 1918