“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Colossians 3:12)
The Catechism of the Catholic Church at 1832 lists KINDNESS as one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit. It says:
“1832 The fruits of the Spirit are perfections that the Holy Spirit forms in us as the first fruits of eternal glory. The tradition of the Church lists twelve of them: “charity, joy, peace, patience, KINDNESS, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, chastity [citing Galatians 5: 22-23].”
Kindness is a virtue which “lifts the spirits” and “touches the hearts” of the people we encounter in our lives. When kindness is amplified by grace theologians call it an infused or supernatural virtue gifted to us in baptism, and when that virtue of kindness becomes part of our very nature – perfecting us in grace – it is a manifestation of the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Kindness therefore involves acts of kindness, and these acts of kindness can increase by way of practice, prayer and sacramental life. The goal, then, is to become proficient in producing these all-important acts of kindness in cooperation with the Holy Spirit.
The late Father Lovasik wrote a wonderful book about the power of kindness called The Hidden Power of Kindness (Sophia Press). Father Lovasik points out that even a kind smile or a small compliment can bring joy to someone. I think we should resolve to pray to the Holy Spirit to ripen the fruit of kindness in us! “Ask and you shall receive” (John 16:24 ).
Please keep in mind that I am not using hyperbole when I call kindness a power! (after all, a fruit of the Holy Spirit is a tremendous, supernatural power). Authentic kindness has the power to make other people’s lives more bearable, less miserable, to repair damaged self-esteem in a person, and even to produce joy and happiness in souls. It really is a tremendous power! Regarding this power of kindness, Father Lovasik states:
“Not only is kindness due to everyone, but a special kindness is due to everyone. Kindness is not kindness unless it is special. Its charm consists in its fitness, its timeliness, and its individual application. Kindness adds sweetness to everything. It makes life’s capabilities blossom and fills them with fragrance. Kindness is like divine grace. It bestows on men something that neither self nor nature can give them. What it gives them is something of which they are in need, or something which only another person can give, such as consolation. Besides, the manner in which this is given is a true gift itself, better far than the thing given. The secret impulse out of which kindness acts is an instinct that is the noblest part of yourself. It is the most undoubted remnant of the image of God, given to us at the beginning” (The Hidden Power of Kindness, p.6, Cf. Frederick William Faber, Spiritual Conferences (Baltimore: John Murphy Company, 1859) at 19).
Here are Fr. Lovasik’s simple rules for being kind from his book, The Hidden Power of Kindness:
1. Don’t speak unkindly of anyone.
2. Don’t think unkindly about anyone.
3. Don’t act unkindly toward anyone.
(My note: of course there may be some instances when we have to speak sternly to others, but we should try to do this with the Holy Spirit’s guidance and with the good of the other person in mind. Of course, the kindness of the Holy Spirit is rooted in truth. The essential mission of the Holy Spirit is to convict us of the ruin of sin and of our salvation in Jesus – see Jesus’ farewell discourse in John’s Gospel.)
1. Speak kindly of someone at least once a day.
2. Think kindly about someone at least once a day (this teaches us to think kindly, which in our secret thoughts we’re prone not to do).
3. Do an act of kindness to someone at least once a day (and as this virtue grows such acts can be multiplied).
When you are unkind, says Father Lovasik, make a short act of contrition and resolve to produce acts of kindness in your life. Practicing these simple rules isn’t easy and will require conscious effort and self-denial, but keeping them will lead to growth in holiness as we become less self-centered and more humble. Kindness, like patience, involves a certain form of mortification. Kindness is a type of love or charity. Frankly, it doesn’t cost us very much to be kind, or to say a kind word to someone.
Father Faber says that, in terms of evangelization, “kindness is the best pioneer of the Precious Blood.” He further states: “Kindness has converted more sinners than either zeal, eloquence or learning: and these last three have never converted anyone, unless they were kind also” (Spiritual Conferences, p.15).
Come Holy Spirit, Creator Blest, Uncreated Gift of the Father and the Son, and fill our hearts with kindness.
Thomas L. Mulcahy, M.A.
References: In addition to Father Lovasik’s book, I have relied on Father Faber’s famous essay, “Kindness,” and also on an internet article by Michael Hickey: “Words of Wisdom: kindness is the greatest virtue of all.”
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I LOVE this! I also appreciate the practical application and direction when we are not so kind. Thank you for this wonderful insight. ❤️
LOVE THIS! Well done!❤️