What is the Forgotten Virtue?
By the late Father Kilian McGowan, C.P.

The poet Wordsworth once wrote that the "best portion of a good
man's life" is "his little, nameless, unremembered acts of
kindness and love." In his famous Canticle of Charity
(Corinthians, Chapter 13) Saint Paul named it as one of the
foremost daughters of charity: " kind," he wrote.

Kindness is like a beautiful jewel carefully and beautifully
wrapped. For to the gem of charity it adds a most attractive
packaging of gentleness and considerateness. Kindness is,
therefore, an overflow of a thoughtful and selfless love into a
realm of speech and action. It is indeed a God-like quality.

Volumes could be written on the exquisite kindness that our
Blessed Lord showed toward everyone. While He always placed the
primary accent on the spiritual, He never overlooked the physical
and emotional needs of others. Remember the time He resurrected
the sick child from the dead. Immediately, He insisted that she
be given something to eat. He was casual about the tremendous
miracle, and concerned about the youngster's hunger.

You'll never have to look far for opportunities to practice
the Godlike quality of kindness. Think of all the people you
know in spiritual, physical, or emotional need. Just look about
you and note all the forgotten, neglected, and lonely people that
are starving for little acts of kindness. And when you start
looking, always start in you own home.

Impulsive little acts of kindness can be very touching...and
effective, too. But true kindness is not simply the overflow of
a feeling of well-being or a sudden burst of good humor. It is
a stable disposition of one's heart that should be carefully
cultivated and constantly practiced. There is always a
predictable consistency to a truly kind person.

To cultivate this Godlike virtue, start being kind in thought.
Think out ways of being kind to the home and away
from it. Keynote in your thinking the good qualities of others,
rather than their more obvious failings. This will make it
easier for you to think kindly of others, and will even increase
your peace of soul.

Make your acts of kindness personal. As kindness always implies
a certain giving of one's self, don't be afraid to be yourself.
Don't worry about being awkward, misunderstood, or unappreciated
in your efforts at kindness. Kindness is so universally
appreciated that it will never be wasted.

Kindness has a certain timeliness to it. It's at its beautiful
best when it caters to an urgent need of the moment. It's simple,
too-just as ordinary as sunshine, and just as necessary.
A thoughtful letter...a brief visit...a word of encouragement
or congratulations...a small or thoughtful gift...or just one's
silent presence can bring instant joy to the recipient.

The tongue is one of the greatest instruments of kindness. The
tongue gives birth to the kindness one has conceived in his heart.
An unkind thought can be unkind impulse can be
smothered...but once an unkind word has been spoken, the damage
is done. If you are perfectly kind in your speech, you are
possessed of an exquisite kindness.

Only kindness that flows from intimate friendship with Our Lord
can conquer selfishness. Close personal contact with Christ has
such a transforming effect. To plunge often into this infinite
ocean of kindness, gradually washes away our innate egotism and

What was more reassuring and attractive in our Lord than His
kindness? In Him, Titus wrote "the goodness and kindness of God
our Savior, appeared." (3:4) This dominant quality of the Heart
of the Savior proved irresistible even to the most hardened of

From the Heart of the Savior, kindness will increasingly pour
itself into the lives of those who maintain a daily contact with
Him. This outpouring brings benevolence and forbearance,
compassion and consideration, sensitiveness to others' needs,
and a merciful overlooking of their failures.

No good, it is true, can be accomplished in the home or out of it,
without sincere love. We resist any kind of force, but we
surrender to kindness. This attractive virtue never humiliates,
and always comforts. It shows its face in an habitual, sensitive,
unself-centered concern for all others and their needs.

Yes, kindness is one of the greatest gifts you can give the world.
It sweetens sorrow and lessens pain. It inspires hope in faint
hearts and discovers beauties in every human person. It lightens
burdens and gives uplift to the unfortunate. It lessens the
bitterness of failure and it enkindles love and gratitude. It is
so Christlike. Why not be an Apostle of kindness?