Advent Reflections (Day 22)

by | Dec 17, 2022 | Formation

Putting On the Virtue of Gentleness
December 18, 2022

Gentleness involves the ability to endure offenses with forgiveness and courage. St. Vincent based his teaching in this regard on respect for the human person. Even those who commit injustice, he told his priests and sisters, deserve respect as persons. The writings of John Paul II reiterate this theme in our day — the call to have profound reverence for each individual. Naturally, having respect for the person of the offenders does not prohibit us from channeling our anger with courage against the evils they are committing. But it does prohibit us from practicing injustice in the name of justice. St. Vincent recognized clearly (and he reminded Philip LeVacher about St. Augustine’s teaching in this regard1) that there are some evils that must be tolerated, since there is no practical possibility of correcting them. The wise person learns to live with them, and the gentle person treats with respect those whose lives are so entwined with evil that it cannot be rooted out. There is a delicate balance in this regard. At times one must suffer with courage. There are evils that cannot be avoided and that must be endured. But on the other hand, one must avoid a false gentility, as Adrian Van Kaam once put it2 (or, to use Joseph Leonard’s translation of St. Vincent’s phrase, “namby-pamby mildness”!). At times one must cry out against injustice and channel all one’s energies into overcoming it. It takes great prudence to know the difference between these cases.

1CCD IV, 121.
2Van Kaam, Adrian L., Spirituality and the Gentle Life (Denville, New Jersey: Dimension Books, 1974).

Source: Fr. Robert P. Maloney, C.M. A Further Look at “Gentleness”


Let us pray

Lord, grant us this prudence.


For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

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