the virtue of kindness



 “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.”

To SHARE on SOCIAL MEDIA: click on “Leave a comment” or “Comments” below (and this will bring up social media icons if they are not already present).

To LEAVE A COMMENT: click on “Leave a comment” or “Comments” below, and then scroll down to the box which says, “Leave Your Own Comment Here,” which is at the end of any comments already made. If the comment section is already present, merely scroll to the end of any comments already made.

All rights reserved.

Any ads following this note are by WordPress and not CatholicStrength.



“Love is kind” (1 Corinthians 13:4)

“But the fruit of the Holy Spirit is…kindness” (Galatians 5:22)

“The worst kinds of unhappiness, as well as the greatest amount of it,” says Father Faber, “come from our conduct to each other.” Thus, he says, “if our conduct…were under the control of kindness,” we would live in a vastly happier world.

I have a little note I taped to the top rim of my computer screen which says, KINDNESS/POWER, but I have to admit that kind words do not always come out of my mouth when someone interrupts me while I’m zoned in on the internet world. Kindness is a huge virtue in the spiritual life, and one we need to put into practice more and more.

Father Faber mentions that kindness is a “considerable power.” He says that it is kindness that “makes life more endurable,” and which has the power to “make life’s capabilities blossom.” Faber says that “kindness is the overflowing of self upon others. We put others in the place of self. We treat them as we should wish to be treated ourselves.” Faber adds that “kindness adds sweetness to everything.”

The purpose of this short note is to suggest that kind words are a considerable power we have at our disposal. In fact, Faber says that kindness is “an immense power.” Grace-filled kindness is so powerful that this virtue can ripen into a fruit of the Holy Spirit (see Galatians 5:22). A fruit of the Holy Spirit, which involves a certain perfection of a supernatural virtue, is an enormous power. We should therefore pray to the Holy Spirit for an increase of the virtue of kindness.

Faber says that “kindness seems to know of some secret fountain of joy deep in the soul” and that it offers us a “peculiar participation in the spirit of Jesus.” He says that “men do not sufficiently understand” the “value” of kindness. “The interior beauty of a soul through habitual kindliness of thought is greater than our world can tell.”

Father Faber says there is “hardly a power on earth equal to” kind words. He further points out that there are so many “fortunate opportunities” to be kind. When you think about it, the opportunity for great heroism may never come our way, but we can say kind things all day long! And what do kind words cost us? Virtually nothing! But what is lost if we fail to speak kindly? As Faber points out, kind words are not only remedial, helping those in need of encouragement, they actually produce happiness. He says, “how often have we ourselves been made happy by kind words.” It “would be worth going through fire and water to acquire the right and to find the opportunity of saying kind words.”

Faber says that “not only is kindness due everyone, but a special kindness is due everyone.” And “is there any happiness in the world like the happiness of the disposition made happy by the happiness of others?,” Faber asks. “There is no joy to be compared with it.” “Kindness is the turf of the spiritual world, whereon the sheep of Christ feed quietly beneath the Shepherd’s eye.”

Let us make a resolution, then, to be an “apostolate of kindness.” Let us reflect on what a great virtue kindness is, and what power it has to bring sunshine and happiness where there is gloom and discouragement. And through kind words the “bruised reed” will not be broken, and the “flickering candle” will not be extinguished (see Matt. 12:20), and we will see that “our neighbor is our refuge” and self “the demon foe” (George MacDonald).

I spoke a word of praise today – 
One I had no need to say – 
I spoke a word of praise to one,
Commending some small service done;
And in return, to my surprise,
I reaped rewards of mountain size.
Such a look of pleasure shone 
Upon his face – I’ll never own 
A gift more beautiful to see
Than that swift smile he gave to me.
I spoke one little word of praise, 
And  sunshine fell on both our ways.   
(from The Gift of Wonder by renowned poet Helen Lowrie Marshall)

Tom Mulcahy, M.A.

Ref. As you can see, I am relying almost completely on Father Faber’s famous essay, “Kindness,” in his book, Spiritual Conferences (TAN). Although a long essay it is well worth reading and meditating on. Faber’s point that a special kindness is due to everyone, if taken to heart, has the power to increase our personal holiness. One word of caution: kindness and praise must be sincere and genuine. A false kindness, a calculated kindness, is easily detected. That is why we should pray to the Holy Spirit for the supernatural growth of the virtue of kindness.

To SHARE on SOCIAL MEDIA: click on “Leave a comment” or “Comments” below (and this will bring up social media icons if they are not already present).

To LEAVE A COMMENT: click on “Leave a comment” or “Comments” below, and then scroll down to the box which says, “Leave Your Own Comment Here,” which is at the end of any comments already made. If the comment section is already present, merely scroll to the end of any comments already made.

All rights reserved.

Any ads following this post are from WordPress and not this blog.