The Strength of Gentleness

“Nothing,” wrote Saint Francis de Sales, “is so strong as gentleness, nothing so gentle as real strength.” Gentleness is a cultivated habit of sensitivity, founded on strength—not weakness. It’s a powerful skill sourced from God’s kind of love. An ability, a strain of inner toughness that can weigh anger and reason at the same time. It has the resilience to consider, at the moment, what’s at stake? Is it my inflated ego that’s been frustrated or has justice and fairness actually been violated? Gentleness allows us to look beyond the small, weak world of self and see the other person, their frailty, their circumstances, and ultimately they’re good. It’s the kind of strength that can be tortured for hours and say, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do (Lk 23:34).” As this virtue becomes habitual, embedded in our character, it breaks the cyclical patterns of revenge in our lives and moves us toward a lasting justice.