We should guard our reputation only for God’s service

February 7, 2022 • 2 min

From The Spirit of St. Francis de Sales, page 161
By His friend, Jean Pierre Camus, Bishop of Belley

UPON DESPISING THE ESTEEM OF MEN.

He had no desire that we should make light of our reputation, or be careless about it, but he wished us to guard it for the service of God rather than for our own honour; and more to avoid scandal than to glorify ourselves.

He used to compare reputation to snuff, which may be beneficial if used occasionally and moderately, but which clouds and injures the brain when used in excess; and to the mandrake which is soothing when smelt at a distance, but if brought too close, induces drowsiness and lethargy.

In his Philothea he devotes one chapter to the subject of guarding our reputation, while at the same time practising humility. [Part iii. chap. vii.] He did not, however, content himself with teaching by precept; he went much further, and continually impressed his lesson on others by his example.

On one occasion, writing to me about some slanderous reports which had been spread in Paris against him, on account of conscientious and holy advice which he had given to virtuous people who had sought counsel of him, he expressed himself in these words:

I am told that they are cutting my reputation to pieces in Paris, but I hope that God will build it up again, stronger than ever, if that is necessary for His service. Certainly I do not want it except for that purpose, for, provided that God be served, what matters whether it be by good or evil report, by the exaltation, or by the defamation of our good name?

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