Last week I began looking at “Accepting Reproofs Without Bitterness.” This subject is found in Chapter 9 of St. Francis De Sales’ book, The Art of Loving God.
De Sales admits that accepting reproof is a difficult task. When someone corrects us, often our first reaction is to get angry. Or we try and offer some kind of counter-argument. De Sales writes that
“We must realize and expect that excuses and feelings rationalizing why we have been wrong will come. Indeed they will come in crowds! We must not listen to a single one however good it may seem to us. We should not yield to our passion nor try and analyze the situation until our soul is calm and quiet.”
Where do such feelings come from? Some of it is from our habitual self-love. An overly sensitive temperament is a sure sign of this. Some of it comes from the temptations of the devil. De Sales writes, “Who cannot see that this rebel will put you into utter confusion if you do not drive him away?”
What then must we do in such times? A quick prayer is De Sales’ first suggestion. If the feelings persist and you have still not calmed down, do not say or do anything. St. Francis also recommends habitual reading about the lives of the Saints. Examine how they handled such situations. Drinking from this spiritual well can provide spiritual nourishment and encouragement. Finally, De Sales recommends just doing your job. Stick to the task at hand. This offers a ready distraction and a way to move our mind quickly away from the reproach.