Putting On the Virtue of Gentleness
December 3, 2022
Gentleness should be accompanied by firmness, especially in superiors. St. Vincent touches on this theme frequently in his letters to Louise de Marillac and to various superiors. In a letter written to Louise on November 1, 1637, he says: “If the gentleness of your spirit needs a dash of vinegar, borrow a little from Our Lord’s spirit. O Mademoiselle, how well he knew how to find a bittersweet remark when it was needed!”1 In putting Monsieur Portail in charge of a mission team, in 1632, he encouraged him to honor “la douceur et l’exactitude” of Our Lord.2 In writing to the superior at Nancy, François Dufestel, Vincent tells him to be firm and uncompromising in regard to the end, but gentle and humble in regard to the means.3 He gives the same advice almost verbatim in a letter written four days later to Jean Guérin4 and repeats it in another letter to Guérin four months later.5
1CCD I, 393.
2CCD I, 176.
3CCD II, 298.
4CCD II, 300.
5CCD II, 355.
Source: Fr. Robert P. Maloney, C.M. A Further Look at “Gentleness”