Aleteia

The role of kindness in the spiritual life

KINDNESS
ValeryMinyaev | Shutterstock
Share

Fr. Francis Xavier Lasance had many keen insights into the importance of kindness and how it can shape our whole lives.

Click here to launch the slideshow

The word “kindness” is frequently talked about in the secular world, but what does it mean in the spiritual life?

Fr. Francis Xavier Lasance included thoughts from Fr. William Faber about kindness in his early 20th-century book, My Prayer Book, which help shed some light on the role of kindness in Christianity.

He begins by writing, “The worst kinds of unhappiness, as well as the greatest amount of it, come from our conduct to each other. If our conduct, therefore, were under the control of kindness, it would be nearly the opposite of what it is, and so the state of the world would be almost reversed.”

Faber continues by defining kindness and explaining how it fits into a Christian worldview.

Kindness is the overflowing of self upon others. We put others in the place of self. We treat them as we would wish to be treated ourselves. We change places with them. For the time self is another, and others are self. Our self-love takes the shape of complacence in unselfishness.

In this sense, kindness is not merely an external act, but chiefly an internal one, where we put others above ourselves.

Fr. Faber goes so far as to say that kindness in thought leads a soul closer to sainthood, “If [someone] habitually has kind thoughts of others, and that on supernatural motives, he is not far from being a saint … There is one class of kind thoughts which must be dwelt upon apart. I allude to kind interpretations. The habit of not judging others is one which it is very difficult to acquire, and which is generally not acquired till late on in the spiritual life.”

The kindness Fr. Faber speaks of is not the “empty” variety, that only shows a false facade, but is more akin to a glacier, revealing only the tip of a much deeper spiritual state of life.

True Christian kindness reveals a love for your neighbor that goes beyond any selfish motive. It is a form of charity that imitates the love that Christ has for all of us, showing compassion for all people.

As Fr. Lasance says,

Kind words are the music of the world.

 

7 Ways to show kindness in the age of social distancing
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.