The Virtue of Holy Indifference

by | Jul 24, 2023 | Formation, Reflections

In Christian spiritual tradition, the state of perfect acceptance of the will of God by an entire resignation is called as the virtue of holy indifference. It is not a virtue among many other virtues, but it is a state of virtuous life.

There is a famous philosophical concept in the ancient Upanishadic teachings of India which also has the same meaning as Holy Indifference. In Sanskrit language it is called Nishkama karma. It means to act or to do the responsibilities without any selfish attachment or desire to the fruits of actions.

Louis Abelly, in his book on the life of life of Vincent De Paul, attributes this virtue to St. Vincent before all other virtues. In the book he also quotes some of the sayings of Vincent which beautifully explains the virtue of holy indifference and its importance in our spiritual life. The following are some of the sayings of Vincent on the Virtue of Holy Indifference.

An act of resignation and acceptance of the will of God is worth more than a hundred thousand temporal successes.

Those who learn the virtue of holy indifference well are in the most advanced class in the school of the Lord.

It is a virtue by which we are detached from creatures, and attached to the will of the creator. In this state we are totally free from any desire for one thing rather than another.

Without the virtue of holy indifference, we cannot grow in spiritual life and we cannot become missionaries.

Vincent also explained the state of perfect indifference with the example of a donkey which, in many places people still use to carry things. This animal is indifferent about carrying one thing or another, by being guided by a rich man or by a poor man, to be in a noble house or in wretched stable! For this animal everything is same. In the same way when we are in a state of holy indifference, we are disposed to accept all and we are detached from the applause of others.

About the Author:

fr-binoyFr. Binoy Puthusery, C.M. is a Vincentian priest belonging to the Southern Indian Province. He was ordained as priest on December 27, 2008 and soon after served as an assistant parish priest in Tanzania.  In 2011, after two years of ministry, he was appointed as Spiritual Director to the Vincentian Sisters of Mercy, Mbinga Tanzania. He currently lives in Barakaldo (Spain), and is a teacher in the Masters in Vincentian Studies.