ON REMEDIES AGAINST ENVY
Consider first, that in order to subdue effectually the passion of envy, we must lay the axe to the root by a serious application of our souls to extirpate pride and vainglory, and all that unhappy self-love which gives birth to this passion, and which continually nourishes it; and to plant in its place the true knowledge of ourselves and humility. These two blessed virtues always bring along with them light and truth, and easily dispel the darkness and errors which serve for a covert for envy. Because the true knowledge of ourselves and humility clearly show how little reason we have to be either conceited of ourselves or of our own excellence; and how groundless and unjust all our pretensions are, either in the favour or esteem of others, or to any preference before others. Now this conviction makes us willing to be overlooked and despised by every one, and to sit down in the lowest place, as most suitable to our deserts, and consequently leaves no room for us to repine at any one’s being esteemed or preferred before us, or having any other advantage whatsoever. And thus the light of truth, which humility communicates to the soul, effectually banishes from her this vice of envy, which delights in darkness and cannot endure the light. If then, my soul, thou wouldst be out of the reach of this hellish monster, learn to be truly humble, for an humble soul can never be envious.
Consider 2ndly, that the most sovereign remedy against envy is to labour to settle the soul in that perfect union and universal charity which the Son of God requires of us all, as absolutely necessary to our salvation and as the true test of our being his disciples. This charity directly attacks the monster wheresoever it finds it, and gives no quarter to any of its offspring. Wheresoever charity reigns, envy, hatred, malice, backbiting, and all the rest of that cursed train, immediately fly away. O blessed charity, which bringest along with thee all other virtues, and which drivest away all vices! Come thou then and take up thy eternal abode in my soul; I know that without thee I am nothing; and that whatsoever other advantages I may possess, if thou art wanting, they will avail me nothing. But all good things will come with thee. Oh! I will seek thee then without ceasing; I will prefer thee before all the treasures of the universe; I will spare no pains to find thee, nor cost to purchase thee; I will live and die in thy embraces; and thou shalt deliver me from my vices and passions, and bring me to my God. For my God is charity.
Consider 3rdly, that envy, like all other vices, is to be overcome by fervent prayer imploring the divine assistance, without which we can do nothing, and by serious considerations and meditations upon the great Christian truths, more especially such as may effectually open the eyes of the soul to see the emptiness and vanity of all these worldly toys, and of all earthly and temporal things which so suddenly vanish away, and the greatness of things eternal; that so the soul may despise and loathe these lying follies – the love of which nourishes both envy and pride – and set her heart only upon the eternal honours, riches, and pleasures of the kingdom of heaven, where envy has no access, and where the perfect charity reigns, which makes the blessed take an inexpressible delight in each other’s happiness, to the great increase of their own. O thus it ought to be with all Christians, since they all aspire to this same heavenly country, the place of everlasting peace and love, and have all manner of ties to oblige them to the strictest unions and love; as they have all the same Father and mother, God and his church, are all brethren in Christ, are all redeemed by his blood, and sanctified by his spirit in baptism, and all partake of his body and blood, the sacrament of unity and love and therefore ought all to have but one heart and one soul. O what a heaven we should have upon earth, if it were so with all Christians! There would be no occasions for prescriptions against envy.
Conclude to have recourse upon all occasions to these three excellent antidotes, humility, charity, and prayer, and the subtile poison of envy will not have any force upon thee. Oh! how blind, how unhappy are they who, through envy, become evil themselves, by occasion of another’s good, and are so perverse in their choice, as to prefer the bitterness and racking pains of this ice, before the pleasure and satisfaction of charity.