"Two or Three" Book Club, Meeting 119
During the previous meeting, we saw that virtue sometimes requires the balancing of two values that seem to be opposites--like humility and a good reputation. We get something similar today in the pairing of solitude and society.
To seek society and to shun it, are alike blamable extremes for those living in the world, and it is to such that I am speaking. By shunning it we indicate disdain and contempt for our neighbour, and by seeking it we imply idleness and inactivity.
We should love our neighbour as ourself, and it is not a proof of love to shun him; whilst as a sign that we love ourselves we should be content with our own society, that is to be alone.
"First think of thyself and then of others," said St. Bernard. If then you are not called upon to receive or enter society, remain by yourself and hold converse with your own heart. But if you are rightly called on to join in society, then go as in God's sight, and mix with a free and loving heart amongst your fellows.
For this discussion on "social" virtue (my term, of course)--or how to bring holiness into friendship, conversation, recreation, and other non-religious ways of interacting with the world--I thought I'd feature a cover design with more than one person on it. This also happens to be the cover of my own copy. (Don't you love Millet's Angelus?)