On human respect and how this vice may be overcome

POSTED BY DEACON AUGUSTINE

“I offer the following Lenten fare for the readers of Protect the Pope.  It is from a true classic by St Alphonsus Liguori on the dangers of the sin of Human Respect:

In exhorting His disciples to be faithful to Him, under the persecutions which they were to endure, the Saviour said: “Yea; the hour cometh, that whosoever killeth you, will think that he doth a service to God.”  Thus, the enemies of the faith believed that in putting Christians to death, they did a service to God.  It is thus that many Christians of the present day act.  They kill their own souls by losing the grace of God through Human Respect, and to please worldly friends.  Oh! How many souls has Human Respect – that great enemy of our salvation – sent to hell!  I shall speak on this subject today, that, if you wish to serve God and save your souls, you may guard, as much as possible, against Human Respect.  In the first point, I will show the importance of not being influenced by Human Respect; and in the second. I will point out the means by which this vice may be overcome.

Second point – On the Means of overcoming Human Respect

To overcome Human Respect, it is necessary to fix-in our hearts, the holy resolution of preferring the grace of God, to all the goods and favours of this world, and to say with Saint Paul: “Neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God” – Romans 8:38-39.  Jesus Christ exhorts us not to be afraid of those who can take away the life of the body; but to fear him only, who can condemn the soul and body to hell.  “And fear ye not them that kill the body, and are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him, that can destroy both soul and body in hell” – Matthew 10:28.  We wish either to follow God or the world; if we wish to follow God, we must give up the world. “How long do you halt between two sides?” said Elijah to the People. “If the Lord be God, follow Him” – 1Kings 18:21. You cannot serve God and the world. He that seeks to please men, cannot please God. “If”, says the Apostle, “I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ” – Galatians1:10.

The true servants of God, rejoice to see themselves despised and maltreated for the sake of Jesus Christ. The Holy Apostles went from the presence of the council, “Rejoicing, that they were accounted worthy to suffer reproach for the Name of Jesus” – Acts 5:41. Moses could have prevented the anger of Pharaoh, by not contradicting the current report, that he was the son of Pharaoh’s Daughter. But he denied that he was her son, preferring, as Saint Paul says, the opprobrium of Christ, to all the riches of the world. “Rather, choosing to be afflicted with the people of God; … esteeming the reproach of Christ, greater riches, than the treasure of the Egyptians” – Hebrews 11:25-26.

Wicked friends come to you and say: “What extravagancies are those in which you indulge? Why do you not act like others?” Say to them in answer: “My conduct is not opposed to that of all men; there are others who lead a holy life. They are indeed few; but I will follow their example; for the Gospel says: “Many are called, but few are chosen” – Matthew 20:16. “If” says Saint John Climacus, “you wish to be saved with the few, live like the few”. But, they will add: “Do you not see that all murmur against you, and condemn your manner of living?”  Let your Answer be: “It is enough for me, that God does not censure my conduct. Is it not better to obey God, than to obey men?” Such was the answer  of Saint Peter and Saint John to the Jewish Priests: “If it be just in the sight of God to hear you, rather than God, judge ye” – Acts 4:19.  If they ask you how can you bear an insult? or how, after submitting to it, can you appear among your equals? Answer them by saying, that you are a Christian, and that it is enough for you to appear well in the eyes of God. Such should be your answer to all these satellites of Satan: you must despise all their maxims and reproaches. And when it is necessary to reprove those who make little of God’s Law, you must take courage and correct them publicly. “Them that sin, reprove before all” – 1Timothy 5:20. And when there is Question of the Divine honor, we should not be frightened by the dignity of the man who offends God; let us say to him openly: “This is Sinful; it cannot be done”. Let us imitate the Baptist, who reproved King Herod for living with his brother’s wife, and said to him: “It is not Lawful for thee to have her” – Matthew 14:4. Men indeed shall regard us as fools, and turn us into derision; but, on the Day of Judgment, they shall acknowledge that they have been foolish, and we shall have the glory, of being numbered among the Saints. They shall say: “These are they, whom we had some time in derision . . . we fools esteemed their life madness, and their end without honour. Behold how they are numbered among the children of God, and their lot is among the Saints” – Wisdom 5:3-5.”

7 comments to On human respect and how this vice may be overcome

  • Thank you Deacon Augustine. I’m still working on this area. I always find the prayer at stations – “grant that I may love you always and then do with me what you will” challenging. I have to remember that God is love and so His will for me will always be the best thing that could ever happen to me – even though I don’t always see it as that way. The desire for human respect before love of God can never be good.

  • I am sure that we all have work to do in this area, Mrs Donnelly – I know I do. But the pressure to bow before the world and the temptation to be “frightened by the dignity of the man who offends God” seems to increase exponentially with the level which is attained in the ecclesiastical ranks.

  • Lynda

    Thank you. This is a dominant vice in the Church today as people, including many many clerics choose to be “respected” by the world, the enemies of God and His Holy Church who rule in society, rather than fear the Lord.

  • Dilly

    How very apt. And what a consolation of middle-age it is to cease to worry about the opinion those who think that traditional, orthodox, Catholicism is odd.

  • Michael B Rooke

    The quotation by St Alphonsus Liguori
    “If they ask you how can you bear an insult? or how, after submitting to it, can you appear among your equals? Answer them by saying, that you are a Christian, and that it is enough for you to appear well in the eyes of God. Such should be your answer to all these satellites of Satan”
    This instruction has been reiterated by Pope Francis.
    Pope Francis at Angelus: One can’t dialogue with Satan
    Satan, the Pope said, tried “to divert Jesus from the Father’s plan” by tempting Him “to take an easy path,” a path “of success and power.” Jesus definitively rejects these temptations, reaffirming His “firm intention to follow the path established by the Father, without any compromise with sin or with the logic of the world.” This commitment to follow the plan of the Father is realized in Jesus actions; “His absolute fidelity to the Father’s plan of love will lead Him, after about three years, to the final confrontation with the “prince of this world” (Jn 16:11), in the hour of the Passion and of the Cross, and there Jesus will achieve His final victory, the victory of love!”

    Jesus decisively rejects all these temptations and reaffirms [His] firm intention to follow the path established by the Father, without any compromise with sin or with the logic of the world. Note well how Jesus responds: He doesn’t dialogue with Satan, as Eve did in the terrestrial Paradise.
    Jesus knows well that one can’t dialogue with Satan, because he is so cunning.
    For this reason, instead of dialoguing, as Eve did, Jesus chooses to take refuge in the Word of God and to respond with the power of this Word.
    Let us remind ourselves of this in the moment of temptation, of our temptation: not arguing with Satan, but defending ourselves with the Word of God. And this will save us.
    In His responses to Satan, the Lord — using the Word of God — reminds us, first, that “one does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God” (Mt 4:4; cf. Dt 8:3), and this gives us strength, sustains us in the fight against the worldly mentality that lowers human beings to the level of their basic needs, causing them to lose the hunger for what is true, good, and beautiful, the hunger for God and His love.
    He also recalls, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.’” ( v. 7) , because the road of faith also passes through darkness, doubt, and is nourished by patience and persevering expectation. Jesus notes, finally, that “it is written: ‘The Lord, your God, shall you worship and him alone shall you serve,’” that is, we must get rid of idols, of vanities, and build our lives on the essentials.

    These words of Jesus will then find concrete responses in His actions. His absolute fidelity to the Father’s plan of love will lead Him, after about three years, to the final confrontation with the “prince of this world” (Jn 16:11), in the hour of the Passion and of the Cross, and there Jesus will achieve His final victory, the victory of love!

    Text from page http://en.radiovaticana.va/articolo.asp?c=779938
    of the Vatican Radio website

  • Yes how dangerous human respect is. What a great and tremendous danger.

    And how subtle and all pervasive and difficult to escape.

    May God help! +

  • Paul

    When I was at university, if the regular student mass (on a friday) could not be celebrated we usually met for lectio divina or the stations of the cross. At my current parish they are in the practice of regularly holding services of the word and communion, despite the existence of a church where mass is being said only 1.5 miles away (the nearest mass at university was 25 miles away).

    I have always thought that my current parish should hold a public celebration of the office of readings, whilst advertising where the nearest mass is, but after reading this – imagine how well it would be to proclaim the sermons of our ancestors in the faith?

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