Friday, April 29, 2011

Humility Is Compatible with the Rich Dress of One's Office

By Father Francis Spirago

St. Francis of Sales, the bishop of Geneva, while on a journey during Lent, went to a church that was attached to the monastery of Capuchin friars. He arrived at sermon time; the preacher had taken ostentation in dress as his sermon's theme and was inveighing vehemently against prelates and ecclesiastical dignitaries who, instead of setting an example, of humility, wore splendid garments. When the sermon ended, the bishop went into the sacristy and summoned the preacher. Once they were alone, Saint Francis said, "Reverend Father, your discourse was edifying. It may also be true that we who are in authority in the Church are guilty of sins from which the inmates of the cloister are exempt. Nevertheless, I consider it highly unwise to say such things as you did on this subject from the pulpit to the common people. Moreover, I wish to call your attention that for many reasons it is a matter of necessity that the princes of the Church should keep up an appearance befitting their rank. Besides, one never knows what may be hidden beneath a silken robe." Saint Francis unbuttoned the upper part of his purple cassock, and let the monk see that he wore a ragged hair shirt next to his skin. "I show you this," Saint Francis added, "so that you may learn that humility is quite compatible with the rich dress of one's office. From henceforth, see that you are less harsh in your judgements and more prudent in your speech." If the dignitaries of the Church were wretchedly dressed, they would lose the respect due to themselves and to their office. Therefore it is not only permissible, but obligatory upon them , to dress in accordance with the official rank they hold.

From Father Francis Spirago's Anecdotes and Examples Illustrating the Catholic Catechism (New York: Benziger Brothers, 1904), 187-188


  1. Well said.

    Since it is from St. Francis de Sales, I'll add "obviously".

  2. And St. Francis DeSales completely missed the preacher's point. (Saints aren't perfect and just because they say it, doesn't mean that it's right.)
    Most holier than thou clerics like Burke and Finn just like to play dress up. For some reason they get a big charge out of it.
    Of course, they depend on people like the above commenter to keep their egos stroked and their boots licked clean.

  3. To Anonymous, you abviously don't know Cardinal Burke, just by you statement!

  4. And how sad for you!

  5. I always enjoy the "insights" about Cardinal Burke and Bishop Finn that their enemies display with their vitriol. Funny!

  6. Hello brothers, I think should give Cardinal Burke the respect he deserves at his level of willingness and power, and should not let our feelings come between us.