Speaking in praise or blame of ourselves both usually come from pride

February 1, 2022 • 2 min

From The Spirit of St. Francis de Sales, page 155
By His friend, Jean Pierre Camus, Bishop of Belley

12. Above all things, he recommended people not to speak either in praise or blame of themselves save when doing so is absolutely necessary, and then with great reticence.

It was his opinion (as it was Aristotle’s) that both self-praise and self-blame spring from the same root of vanity and foolishness. He said:

As for boasting, it is so ridiculous a weakness that it is hissed down by even the vulgar crowd. Its one fitting place is in the mouth of a swaggering comedian.

In like manner words of contempt spoken of ourselves by ourselves, unless they are absolutely heartfelt and come from a mind thoroughly convinced of the fact of its own misery, are truly the very acme of pride, and a flower of the most subtle vanity; for it rarely happens that he who utters them either believes them himself or really wishes others to believe them: on the contrary, the speaker is mostly only anxious rather to be considered humble, and consequently virtuous, and seeks that his self-blame should redound to his honour.

Self-dispraise in general is no more than a tricky kind of boasting. It reminds me of oarsmen who turn their backs on the very place which with all the strength of their arms they are striving to reach.

The above sentiments of Blessed Francis with regard to humility are very striking, but it is much more worthy of note that he himself carried his principles strictly into practice. His actions were so many model lessons and living precepts on the subject. O God! how pleasing must the sacrifice of his humility have been in Thine eyes which look down so closely upon the humble, but regard the proud only from afar.

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