Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Revisiting Honey

Most people don't realize who they're quoting when they speak of catching more flies with honey than with vinegar.  I was well into adulthood when I learned that this bit of wisdom had come from one of my favorite saints. 

'You can catch more flies with a spoonful of honey than with ten barrels of vinegar.' (St. Francis de Sales)

I often think of this in connection with another quote from this Doctor of the Church.   

'It is an act of of charity to cry out against the wolf when he is among the sheep"  (St. Francis de Sales)  

These two thoughts may not appear to have much to do with one another.  But in my mind, they work together.  In fact, I often strive to "navigate between them," as one might drive between two lines painted on a highway to keep vehicles moving safely. 

As one of Our Lord's sheep, I have seen wolves come amongst us, oh - so many times.  In saying this, I'm not thinking of people, but of ideas and ungodly "values" that creep in, usually in sheeps' clothing.  They enter in the name (very often) of freedom, tolerance, rights, prosperity, pleasure, modernization, fairness, justice for all.  Not wanting to be unkind, we can let them prowl freely among our families and groups without our uttering so much as a whisper of protest.  We don't want to rock boats, ruffle feathers, stir waters, or cause anyone to be uncomfortable.  Besides, we don't want to appear, well... you know.  Uncool.  Behind the times.  Uncharitable. 

It can take a lot to not go along with the popular, trendy wolves.  But if we know the truth and refuse to share it, are we acting in genuine charity toward the sheep?  Francis would say no.

However, there are a couple of ways of sharing.  We can lash out in anger, in sharp words that can sting and personally wound our "opponents"... in other words, we can dish out the vinegar.  Or...

we can speak in honeyed tones.  Not in fake ones, but in words and actions that carry a genuine kindness that enables our fellow sheep to hear.  After all, ears tend to turn off at the sound of vinegar.  The truth we're trying to communicate can pass by totally unheard if we allow frustration and anger to "vinegar-ize" what we say.  

We all know there are wolves of ungodly values running rampant.  I don't have to name them; we see them everywhere. They rob children of innocence, families of stability, societies of integrity, preborn babies of life, and individuals of eternity spent with God.  The cost of silence could be staggering.

But we dare not speak without honey.

We dare not speak without love.

'I take in my hands the two rays that spring from Your merciful Heart; that is, the blood and the water; and I scatter them all over the globe so that each soul may receive Your mercy...'  (St. Faustina)

This was first posted here in 2012. I share this slightly edited version as part of "It's Worth Revisiting Wednesday." Click this line to find gems from other Catholic bloggers.

© 2015 Nancy Shuman


  1. I needed to read this today! Thank you!

  2. Too good not to share! The most successful evangelizers do so with the truth of love and not with a sword, For, It is then that the conversion is a lasting one. So thankful you were able to join in this week! :)

  3. Oh my goodness! Something was done today that was definetly a wolf in Sheep's clothing. It was as if this post was written for me. I was so frustrated. Very frustrated with this particular attack on the Catholic Church. I needed to read this quote.

  4. Amen to the truth of this post! I love how you expressed it here. The "trendy wolves" are everywhere and get into our homes and hearts in so many ways, subtle and obvious. Thank you for this light shed on our ongoing battles, struggles, and endurance of loving well.