Saturday, July 04, 2015

False Zeal

There is a maxim upon which as a foundation stone the little society of Calvario rests.... It is the following: "we must so earnestly take heed to ourselves, as to value nothing except in reference to the salvation and perfection of our own souls," and regard all that concerns our neighbour merely as a means of pleasing God or sanctifying ourselves.

This maxim excludes that false zeal which renders people more anxious about their neighbour's salvation than their own, the offspring of secret pride, through which a man shrinks from considering his own shortcomings and presumes to think himself necessary to his neighbour, as though his own affairs were all settled and in good order. This mode of acting is also a sign of little faith in the Goodness and Providence of God, as though He did not watch over mankind with a Father's care, without need of our assistance.

Antonio Rosmini, Letters, Chiefly on Religious Subjects, pp. 605-606.


  1. Enbrethiliel1:18 PM


    This reminds me of a problem that a friend of mine has been wrestling with. She says that Catholicism pressures her to do and to give more than she might want to, because holding back might mean other souls don't get saved.

    I like the way Rosmini ties this shortcoming to one of the virtues, because it shows us what is most needed for the correction.

  2. branemrys9:32 PM

    I think it's a very common problem today; we are all very interested in making sure our neighbors are virtuous.

    This came up with Isaac of Nineveh, too, although it didn't occur to me until you had phrased it precisely that way.

  3. Enbrethiliel12:13 AM


    I remember that post! =) And if I remember correctly, St. Francis de Sales also had something to say about making the world holy by making yourself holy first. Christian history shows that we are always in need of this reminder.

    Would you happen to have a quotation from either St. Isaac or Rosmini (or any other Catholic thinker) which would address a related issue that my friend has? She says that another reason she feels pressured to sacrifice to an unhealthy extent is the example of saints who have gone to extremes--like living on pillars, wearing hair shirts for years, rubbing their faces with pepper and lye, flagellating themselves until blood spatters the walls, and so on. (Name those saints!) Why was it good for them to do those things, but not also for us?


Please understand that this weblog runs on a third-party comment system, not on Blogger's comment system. If you have come by way of a mobile device and can see this message, you may have landed on the Blogger comment page, or the third party commenting system has not yet completely loaded; your comments will only be shown on this page and not on the page most people will see, and it is much more likely that your comment will be missed.