St John Vianney on Envy

CHAPTER 9: On Envy

Envy is a sadness which we feel on account of the good that happens to our neighbor.

Envy, my children, follows pride; whoever is envious is proud. See, envy comes to us from Hell; the devils having sinned through pride, sinned also through envy, envying our glory, our happiness. Why do we envy the happiness and the goods of others? Because we are proud; we should like to be the sole possessors of talents, riches, of the esteem and love of all the world! We hate our equals, because they are our equals; our inferiors, from the fear that they may equal us; our superiors, because they are above us. In the same way, my children, that the devil after his fall felt, and still feels, extreme anger at seeing us the heirs of the glory of the good God, so the envious man feels sadness at seeing the spiritual and temporal prosperity of his neighbor.

We walk, my children, in the footsteps of the devil; like him, we are vexed at good, and rejoice at evil. If our neighbor loses anything, if his affairs go wrong, if he is humbled, if he is unfortunate, we are joyful… we triumph! The devil, too, is full of joy and triumph when we fall, when he can make us fall as low as himself. What does he gain by it? Nothing. Shall we be richer, because our neighbor is poorer? Shall we be greater, because he is less? Shall we be happier, because he is more unhappy? O my children! how much we are to be pitied for being like this! St. Cyprian said that other evils had limits, but that envy had none. In fact, my children, the envious man invents all sorts of wickedness; he has recourse to evil speaking, to calumny, to cunning, in order to blacken his neighbor; he repeats what he knows, and what he does not know he invents, he exaggerates….

Through the envy of the devil, death entered into the world; and also through envy we kill our neighbor; by dint of malice, of falsehood, we make him lose his reputation, his place…. Good Christians, my children, do not do so; they envy no one; they love their neighbor; they rejoice at the good that happens to him, and they weep with him if any misfortune comes upon him. How happy should we be if we were good Christians. Ah! my children, let us, then, be good Christians and we shall no more envy the good fortune of our neighbor; we shall never speak evil of him; we shall enjoy a sweet peace; our soul will be calm; we shall find paradise on earth.

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3 Responses to St John Vianney on Envy

  1. toadspittle says:

    .

    Of course, the “episode” that we are all holding our collective breath for – is, “Saint John Vianney on Speeding”

    “We hate our equals, because they are our equals; our inferiors, from the fear that they may equal us; our superiors, because they are above us.”

    Bit heavy-footed on the old hate pedal again, Saint John.

    But do we? Toad can honestly say that he envies no man. Is he alone in this? Maybe he’s just lucky. For he certainly is lucky.

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  2. A Serbian acquaintance of mine who was living in America once told me what he saw as the difference between America and certain other countries. “In America,” my friend said, “if there are two farmers, and one of them gets a cow, the other farmer thinks, ‘How can I get a cow too?’ But in some other countries, if there are two farmers, and one of them gets a cow, the other farmer thinks, ‘How can I kill that cow?'”

    (I told my friend that as an American, I thought his view of America was a bit too idealistic, and his view of the rest of the world was a little too harsh. Anyway, St. John Vianney might have appreciated the story.)

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  3. toadspittle says:

    .

    Toad thinks St. John Vianney might have written the story.

    In which case all the farmers would somehow have ended up in Hell. (Insert smiley face.)

    Like

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