I would rather fix my attention on one fault that I had committed than on all the evil that might be said of me. – St. Ignatius of Loyola
A woman, Isabel Roser, once wrote to St. Ignatius because she was troubled by criticism from her neighbors. She and her husband were generous givers. But that prompted their neighbors, driven by envy, to spread lies about them.
Ignatius told her not to be troubled. “I am not at all surprised at this, not even if it were worse than it is,” he replied. “For just as soon as you determined to bend every effort to secure the praise, honor and service of God our Lord, you declared war on the world.”
He advised Isabel that her commitment to God was also a commitment “to accept indifferently honor and dishonor, riches and poverty, affection and hatred, welcome and repulse.” He also said, “We cannot be much afraid of the reproaches of this life when they are confined to words, for all the words in the world will never hurt a hear one our heads.”
Ignatius also observed that Christians have to make a choice. “If we wish absolutely to live in honor and to be held in esteem by our neighbors, we can never be solidly rooted in God our Lord.”
He added: “My prayer for you is that you accept these affronts with patience and constancy. Remember the insults that Christ our Lord suffered for us.”
For more advice and consolation about how to handle lies and other criticism inspired by others’ envy or disdain, turn to the Gospel of St. Matthew 5:10-12.
Adapted and used with permission from Take Five: On-the-Job Meditations with St. Ignatius by Mike Aquilina and Fr. Kris D. Stubna, Copyright © by Our Sunday Visitor Publishing Division, Our Sunday Visitor, Inc.