A good example from Saint Homobonus:
Homobonus Tucenghi (from the Latin homo bonus literally meaning “good man”) lived in Cremona, Italy in the 12th century. Even though he and his wife were unable to have biological children of their own, Homobonus gave himself as a father to the care of abandoned children. Moreover, “he entirely devoted himself to the practice of the spiritual and corporal works of mercy and, at the same time, he safeguarded the integrity of the Catholic faith faced with heretical infiltrations, with the same fervor with which he participated daily in the Eucharist and devoted himself to prayer.”
At first, Homobonus’s wife did not understand or share in his zeal for living the Gospel. She objected to her husband’s choices and even had a hatred in her heart toward him. Homobonus did not give up on his wife or resign himself to this division in his marriage as something that would never change, rather he fought for his wife and marriage by continuing his good works and seeking to win his wife over to the Gospel with kindness. Homobonus persevered and eventually his wife began to help him with his charitable projects.
St. Homobonus’s earthly life came to an end while he was contemplating the Crucifix at Mass, prostrating himself in the form of the Cross, as was his daily custom. He was canonized a short 14 months later. “He is the first and only layman of the faithful, not to belong either to the nobility or to a royal or princely family, to be canonized during the Middle Ages.”
All quotes are taken from a 1997 Letter of St. John Paul the Great to the Bishop of Cremona.
How will I apply this? (The Challenge):
Step 1: I will notice how St. Homobonus persevered in kindness toward his wife, even when he knew he was 100% in the right, and I will ponder: In what circumstances is it good for me to be unkind to my wife, or to anyone? (After being convicted in the truth that there is no such circumstance, I will move to step two.)
Step 2: I will notice how kindness can be sustained even when exercising the firmness that is very often demanded by authentic love for others, and I will ponder: In what circumstances is it good for me to be firm and how can I be both kind and firm in those moments? I will write down answers.
Step 3: I will commit to kindness at all times without compromise, most especially toward my wife, and I will examine my actions and conscience at the end of each day in this regard.
Some possible results:
- I may grow in kindness toward my wife and others in thought, word, and action – enjoying a greater freedom and purity of heart.
- I may become a more authentic witness of living the Gospel – leading others more effectively to Jesus, His Catholic Church, and a life of Gospel living.
- I may draw closer to Jesus in a deeper life of prayer as I realize how much I need him to be perpetually and truly kind – more fully receiving the greatest gift anyone can ever receive.
Saint Homobonus, pray for us!