Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Fruits of the Holy Spirit-Fifth Hymn of Virtue: Kindness

Photo: R. Massaro (c)2017SpiritSinging

 The Lord's kindness is everlasting
 to those that fear him.” (Psalm 103)

Continuing this series on the Fruits of the Holy Spirit, let's take a closer look at the fruit or virtue of kindness.

We might first ask the question, “What is kindness?” When reflecting on this virtue, it seems to get lost somewhere between gentleness and patience, two distinct fruits of the Spirit. According to the definition in the dictionary, kindness describes a person who exhibits love, affection, and a gentle nature. In our spiritual life dictionary, we agree with this definition but also want to take it to a higher level, a level of the Spirit. Kindness is a holy attribute of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Recently, I watched a repeat of EWTN Live with Mother Angelica. Toward the end of the program, there was a caller who seemed to make an impression on Mother Angelica. Although the caller was troubled by something, her voice was gentle and peaceful. Mother Angelica remarked on this, saying something to the effect, “Be very grateful for your gift of gentleness, my dear. Many people work very hard for what seems to come very naturally for you.” We could take her statement and insert any one of the gifts or fruits of the Spirit-we could say, "be very grateful for the gift of patience, be very grateful for the gift of kindness, because many spiritual people desire these gifts." And it is sad to say, but many people never receive these gifts in this life. Why? Attraction to worldly desires and pleasures are stronger than a desire for prayer and self-denial that bring about virtue in the soul.

In St. Teresa of Avila's Interior Castle, she teaches us that the soul in the second mansion is not content with staying there and not because they want to advance. They do not want to advance because they are still attracted to the world and to sin.

This stage pertains to those who have already begun to practice prayer and have understood how important it is not to stay in the first dwelling places. But they still don't have the determination to remain in this second stage without turning back, for they don't avoid the occasions of sin
Interior Castle, II:1

If a person dies in this state, he must be purified in the holy fire of Purgatory. Once God purifies his heart, he receives all the gifts of the Holy Spirit in their full glory, and the soul is prepared for the beatific vision. 

When speaking of spiritual gifts that we do possess, we must be very careful that we do not take credit for any virtue or gift that God has bestowed upon us. We could boast and say we obtained such and such a gift by our own efforts at prayer. We must be careful not to steal the Lord's glory. If we must boast, we must boast in the Lord (I Cor 1:31). Remember, God chooses the weak to shame the strong. We must remain humble in the sight of the Lord.

If we know a person who is kind, they will most likely be gentle and patient and loving as well. The fruits of the Holy Spirit could be likened to inseparable friends. When you see one, you see the other!

Photo: R. Massaro (C)2017 SpiritSinging Upper Basilica Lourdes, France

The meeting between Our Lady of Lourdes and Bernadette has always impressed me. Bernadette was lowly in the eyes of the world. She was poor and uneducated. Yet, Our Lady appeared to her and showed her great kindness, saying to her:  “Would you do me the favor of coming here for fifteen days?” Bernadette said that no one in her life had ever spoken to her with such great kindness. 

May we imitate the beautiful kindness of Our Lady when we deal with others. May we be especially kind to those who are looked at unfavorably by our society. May we offer them the sweet fruit of the Spirit and share with them what the Lord has given to us: His love, mercy, and kindness!

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, OCDS

1 comment:

Miss Patty said...

Great post,by one who shows His kindness!