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In today’s highly competitive world the virtue of meekness carries a very low rating

“In today’s highly competitive world the virtue of meekness carries a very low rating. The disesteem which many people have for meekness probably stems from their misunderstanding of its nature. If asked to describe a meek person, the average individual would answer, ‘A namby-pamby sort with no spirit. The kind who never stands up for his rights and who is everybody’s doormat.’

It takes a person of strong character to be genuinely meek

This popular concept of meekness is a very mistaken one. The truth is that it takes a person of strong character to be genuinely meek, because the essence of meekness is self-control. A meek person is one who is complete master of his temper and has immense patience toward the stupidity, the weakness and even the malice of other people.

The don’t-cross-me type of person really is a very insecure individual

Psychologists tell us that the easily irritated, don’t-cross-me type of person really is a very insecure individual. His angry reaction to contradiction or annoyance is a defence against his inner feeling of uncertainty concerning his own basic worth. Only a man (or woman) who has a wholesome confidence in his ability to deal with the demands of life is able to remain calm when crossed or contradicted or frustrated. Such a person has no need to shout and smash in order to maintain his own self-respect.

The truly meek man is anything but a weakling

The truly meek man is anything but a weakling. Yet, he is a humble person, inasmuch as he does not have an inflated sense of his own importance in God’s scheme of things. With humility he has a sense of humour, which means the wonderful gift of being able to laugh at himself. He has a sense of proportion, too, and understands that charity is much more important than self-vindication, that victory over self is much more significant than victory over another. The self-assertive, domineering person may win more battles than the meek man, but it is the meek man who wins the war.

How can I tell whether I possess the virtue of meekness?

If I wish to know whether I possess the virtue of meekness, there are a few pertinent questions which I can ask myself. For example, when an argument develops, do I raise my voice and feel a compulsion to prove myself right? Am I sharply critical of the mistakes of others, particularly when those mistakes inconvenience me? Do I react angrily to opposition? Am I irritable and snappish when others question my competency or the wisdom of my decisions? Do I brood unhappily over criticisms directed against me or go into a sullen pout when blocked from doing something I want to do? If I have to answer, ‘Yes, usually,’ to any of these questions, then I still am weak in the virtue of meekness.

Victory over self is much more significant than victory over another

There will be times, of course, when circumstances make it necessary for us to administer a correction to another person and to do so with firmness. However, firmness – even adamant firmness – is not incompatible with meekness. It is quite possible to be firm and still be gentle. In fact, the quiet firmness of the meek is likely to be much more effective than the thundering of the autocrat.

Jesus promises eternal life to those who cultivate meekness

No one is perfect, and even a meek person may have his bad moments in times of fatigue and stress. The great difference here between the meek and the non-meek is that the meek man feels ashamed of himself after an outburst of temper and is quick to make amends if his sharpness has hurt another. The self-assertive person, on the other hand, tells himself that his outburst was fully warranted. He must justify himself in his own mind to protect himself against his inner insecurity.

In view of the many ancillary virtues (humility, patience, charity, self-control) involved in the practice of meekness, it is no wonder that Jesus promises eternal life to those who cultivate this virtue. When Jesus said, ‘Blessed are the meek, for they shall possess the earth,’ He was not promising world domination to the man of quiet strength. Jesus was saying, in poetic imagery, that the meek shall possess all things forever – which is heaven.

Meekness does not come easy. But, in terms of happiness here as well as hereafter, its development is well worth the effort.”

– Fr. Leo J. Trese, One Step Enough, 1966


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A child becomes a man when he stops taking and begins to give

“Psychologists tell us that a child becomes a man when he stops taking and begins to give. A sense of responsibility for others is the basic proof of emotional maturity.

Most of us can illustrate this dictum from our own observation. We know of overprotected children who, as young adults with well paying jobs, spend most of their money on themselves. They still expect dad and mom to provide them with room and board. They may be in their twenties, yet continue to take rather than to give.

This emotional immaturity, this taking rather than giving, can be ruinous to the happiness of a marriage. It characterises the husband (or wife) who seeks primarily his own satisfaction, whether in marital intercourse or in any other area of the partnership.

The essence of love

The essence of love, whether in marriage or in friendship, consists in the giving of self to the one loved. It is almost impossible for the immature person ever really to love another because he knows only how to take. To him, love is a one way street terminating in himself.

We can see this readily enough in the relationship of human to human. Perhaps it has not occurred to us that this also is true of man’s relationship to God. There is such a thing as being spiritually immature. The mark of this immaturity is, once again, the habit of taking rather than giving…

The immature Christian… aims to maintain a cosy You-me relationship with God. [He prays for personal favours, usually for material and worldly things, and expects to draw answers for his requests.] As for his relationships with other people, he keeps them on a strictly practical basis, not on the basis of a brother’s need and his own ability to help. He helps those who can be expected to help him in return. Others must look out for themselves. He is not his brother’s keeper.

There are too many immature Christians… That is why Christ has been so sorely hindered in His efforts to transform the world. That is why, after 2000 years, we still have so much poverty and ignorance, so much hatred and so many wars. Like an inept player on a football team, the immature Christian stands in Christ’s way instead of running interference for Him.

Up to this point we have been talking rather impersonally. The immature Christian is a shadowy person. He is that man or woman across the street, that fellow or girl at the next desk or machine.

Maybe. Also maybe it is that person whom I see in the mirror. There may be an awakening in store for me if I ask myself and answer in complete honesty: ‘In my spiritual life, as I live day by day, am I a giver or a taker?'”

– From: One Step Enough, Fr Leo J. Trese, 1966


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Posted by on June 28, 2015 in Words of Wisdom


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