Very Well, Very Well
The story goes that when the cathedral of
Milan was being built, a sculptor was working
diligently on a statue. A passerby, astonished
at the meticulousness of the sculptor, reasoned
within himself that he must be working on
the main statue inside the Church and it
will be placed in a very prominent place.
To make sure, he asked the sculptor. The
answer was unexpected. "This statue
will be placed there, up there, on top of
the church!" It would be hardly visible
to the naked eye of anyone walking by the
Church. "So, why are you being so fussy?
The details are not so critical. Who will
see it from down here?"
"I don't care who sees it from down
here", was the stark reply. "What
is important is who sees it from up there!"
We would really save ourselves a lot of anxiety
if we were to put it in our head that what
is important in life is not what people think
of us but what He thinks of us! Very often
people are awfully negative. But He is always
positive about us. He thinks well of us.
Very well, indeed.
One of my Carmelite brothers constantly used
to remind me what C.S. Lewis once wrote:
"If you do things for God, He will always
remember it. But if you do things for people,
the probabilities are that neither God nor
the people would ever remember it!"
I was twenty years old then. More than forty
years later, I really value its acumen.
A young girl became pregnant. After a lot
of beating, she revealed who fathered the
child: it was the saintly man who used to
live on the outskirts of the village. All
the villagers marched towards this man's
gazebo, stopped him abruptly from his prayers
and whilst handing him the baby, told him:
"You should be ashamed of yourself!
Your holiness is fake! Take this child -
you brought it into the world, now you take
care of it!"
The only reply this saintly man gave was:
"Very well, very well."
Obviously his reputation was ruined. All
the disciples left him. He had to work harder
to earn a living for himself and for the
baby. After two years, a sudden twist in
The child's mother could not bear it any
more and she confessed that she had lied;
the child's father was not the holy man at
the outskirts of the village, but the young
adult next door. The villagers were stunned.
Embarrassed, they went back to the holy man,
asked pardon and told him to give them back
the child so they would take care of it themselves.
The only reply that came from the holy man,
whilst giving them back the child was: "Very
well, very well."
An enlightened man. A man truly alive!
On the door of one of our rooms in the Carmelite
house, there is a sentence artistically written
on the wall, which says.
"I am no better if I am praised,
I am no worse if I am criticised…"
This may be a formula for better living.
It has been a key factor in my dealings with
people all along!
(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission
granted for any non-commercial use,
that the content is unaltered from
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