According to St. Bernard, it is the person who keeps silent and says nothing when things go wrong who is really humble. It is very virtuous, he says, to keep silent when people are talking about our true faults, but more perfect when we are slighted or accused without having committed any fault or sin. And though it is virtuous indeed to bear this in silence, it is more perfect still to want to be despised and thought mad and good for nothing, and to go on, as our Lord Jesus Christ did, wholeheartedly loving those who despise us.
If Jesus kept silent, it was not because he hated anyone. He was simply saying to his eternal Father what he said on the cross: "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." What infinite love burned in that sacred heart of yours, Lord Jesus! Without uttering a single word, you spoke to us; without a word you worked the mysteries you came to accomplish -- teaching virtue to the ignorant and blind. What our Lord did was no small thing. Where should we get patience and humility and poverty and the other virtues and how could we carry the cross for one another, if Christ had not taught us all this first, and given himself as a living model of all perfection?
Blessed silence! In it you cry out and preach to the whole world by your example. Volumes could be written about your silence, Lord! There is more wisdom to be learned from it by those who love you than from books or study.
Our Lord became a spring for us, so that we should not die of thirst among all the miseries that surround us. How truly he said in the Gospel that he came to serve and not to be served! What tremendous goodness! Can we fail to be shamed by your words and deeds, and the patience you show with us every day? How truly, again Lord, did you say, "Learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart." Where can we obtain this patience and humbleness of heart? Is there any way to achieve it except by taking it from Christ as he taught it to us with those other virtues we need -- faith, hope and charity! Without faith we cannot follow that royal road of the divine mysteries. It is faith that opens our eyes and make us see the truth; and where faith is wanting, there is no light, and no way leading to goodness. [From A Meditation on the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, by Blessed Anne of St. Bartholomew.]
Blessed Anne of St. Bartholomew was one of the chosen souls who assisted in the first foundations of St. Teresa of Avila. She was born into a prosperous farm family in Castile, not far from Avila, Spain. She had many mystical experiences as a child, preserved in her diaries. She wanted to enter the foundation of St. Joseph's in Avila, but was at first turned away because of her youthfulness. Her parents had died, and her brother opposed her call to religious life, wanting her to marry and to help the family to maintain the farm. But after much trial, she entered the monastery where she made her profession of vows as a lay Sister at the age of twenty-three in 1572, ten years before the death of the Saint and founder, Teresa of Avila. As a daughter of peasants, Anne could not read or write; nevertheless, in the final suffering of her life, while again residing at St. Joseph's in Avila, St. Teresa chose Blessed Anne for her nurse and secretary, She learned to read and write, and later played a key role in the spread of the reform to France and Belgium, where she died at Antwerp in 1626. Her writings are preserved there.
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