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Reasons we should be content with the contempt of others

3 min • Digitized on February 8, 2022

From The Spirit of St. Francis de Sales, page 162
By His friend, Jean Pierre Camus, Bishop of Belley

He said to me one day:

Ah, what is a man’s reputation, that so many should sacrifice themselves to this idol? After all, it is nothing but a dream, a phantom, an opinion, so much smoke; praise of which the very remembrance perishes with its utterance; an estimate which is often so false that people are secretly amused to hear themselves extolled for virtues, whose contrary vices they know to be dominating them, and blamed for faults from which they are happily quite free.

Surely those who complain of being slandered are over-sensitive! Their little cross, made of words, is so light that a breath of wind carries it away. The expression, ‘stung me,’ meaning ‘abused me,’ is one that I have never liked, for there is a great deal of difference between the humming of a bee, and its stinging us! We must indeed have sensitive ears, if mere buzzing stings them!

Truly, those were clever people who invented the proverb: ‘A good name is better than riches’; preferring reputation to wealth, or, in other words, vanity to avarice.

Oh, my God! how far removed is this from the spirit of faith! Was there ever any reputation more torn to pieces than that of Jesus Christ? With what insults was He not overwhelmed? With what calumnies was He not loaded? And yet the Father has given Him a name which is above every name, and exalted Him the more, the more he was humbled. Did not the Apostles also come forth rejoicing from the presence of the Council where they had received affronts for the name of Jesus?

Oh, it is a glorious thing to suffer in so worthy a cause! But too often we will have none but open persecutions, so that our light may shine in the midst of darkness, and that our vanity may be gratified by a display of our sufferings. We should like to be crucified gloriously in the midst of an admiring crowd.

What! think you that the martyrs when they were suffering their cruel tortures, were praised by the spectators for their patience? On the contrary, they were reviled and held up to execration. Ah! there are very few who are willing to trample under foot their own reputation, if so be, they may thereby advance the glory of Him Who died an ignominous death upon the Cross, to bring us to a glory which has no end.

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