Kindness (Gk Χρηστότης): expressing genuine concern about the well-being of others; anticipating their needs.
“As each has received a gift, employ it for one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” 1 Peter 4:10
More and more these days we hear of communities and schools celebrating the virtue of kindness and compassion, in a world that far too often seems lacking from it. And yet, this is neither a new concept nor a new problem. In our humanity, mankind periodically goes through cycles of selfishness and divisiveness seeking merely to take care of ourselves rather than the needs of others. This is why the these acts of kindness and compassion stand out, as well as those who most embody them, both living and dead.
“In a world where you could be anything, BE kind”
St. Paul School Hingham, MA 2018-2020
Kindness is noted by St. Paul in Galatians as a fruit of the Spirit, that becomes a visible witness when we respond to God within by actions without. Which is why for St. Clemens kindness was one of the seven “heavenly virtues” in the epic battle of souls in which our faith is continually tested. In the medieval and renaissance periods kindness was the virtue that stood opposed to the vice of envy. Which perhaps runs counter to our thought that kindness and compassion is to be reserved for those impoverished or simply to physical need. (Zechariah 7:9-10 ) But rather, as St. Isaac the Syrian asserts, is a true reflection of God. For,
“In God, there is no hatred towards anyone, but all-embracing love which does not distinguish between righteous and sinner, between a friend of truth and an enemy of truth, between angel and demon. Every created being is precious in God’s eyes.”
Because of this, the virtue of kindness is more than just a momentary fleeting feeling but an intentional inclined disposition towards choosing the loving, merciful and compassionate way of being. Kindness as a virtue, therefore, must be practiced and incorporated into everything that we do. It is not exhibited solely in magnificent feats but in small innocuous ways that could go unnoticed if not for the divinely inspired purpose behind them. Seeking only the good in and for all, kindness expects no recompense but its recompense is magnified and witnessed in all the lives it touches.
This season and always, may we seek to live out the virtue of kindness in every part of our lives.
“Kindness is my only guiding star. In its light, I sail a straight route,
I have my motto written on my sail: “To live in love.”– St. Therese of Lisieux
“Father of mercy and God of all consolation, graciously look upon me and impart to me the blessing which flows from this holy Sacrament. Overshadow me with Your loving kindness, and let this divine Mystery bear fruit in me.” – St. Blaise
“Kindness has converted more people than zeal, science, or eloquence.” – St Teresa of Calcutta, No Greater Love.
And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. – Micah 6:8
Another person will gladly take alms from his wallet to give to the poor, but refuses to draw kindness from his heart to pardon his enemies. Still another person will pardon easily but refuses to pay his creditors unless compelled to do so by law. All these persons may pass for being “devout” but they are nevertheless not so.” – St. Francis de Sales
“Let us more and more insist on raising funds of love, of kindness, of understanding, of peace. Money will come if we seek first the Kingdom of God – the rest will be given.”
– St. Teresa of Calcutta
“A tree is known by its fruit; a man by his deeds. A good deed is never lost; he who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love.” – St. Basil
“A single sunbeam is enough to drive out many shadows” – St. Francis of Assisi
“I just remember their kindness and goodness to me, and their peacefulness and their utter simplicity. They inspired real reverence, and I think, in a way, they were certainly saints. And they were saints in that most effective and telling way: sanctified by leading ordinary lives in a completely supernatural manner, sanctified by obscurity, by usual skills, by common tasks, by routine, but skills, tasks, routine which received a supernatural form from grace within.” – Thomas Merton