Is "being nice" an overrated virtue?

If it is, indeed, a virtue at all?

Our American culture tends to value a kind of superficial friendliness. Our Protestant neighbors often excel in offering a friendly demeanor and a smiling countenance.

But it is reasonable to expect someone, for example, who is suffering severe pain, to always be warm and friendly. Should a person who tragically lost wife and children in a disaster attend the funeral with smiles and cheerful quips for everyone?

I think not. Instead, there will be tears, shortness of words, and a focus on the most serious aspects of life.

What do you think?

3 Likes

I should add that I’m thinking of a common criticism that traditional Catholics are not friendly. Could there be more understanding on both sides?

2 Likes

Sometimes I the it when I look back and see that I was nice to people and they were horrible to me but in the end whom am I trying to please?

1 Like

It all depends on context. But kindness heals.

4 Likes

I’ve not found it to be the case that traditional Catholics are not friendly. They are quite friendly when you are having coffee and donuts with them after Mass, or when you are greeting them with “Merry Christmas” as you enter the church, holding the door open for each other.

They simply don’t want to socialize in the church before Mass and often, though not always, do not want to chat in the church after Mass either. (There are definitely exceptions to the after-Mass statement, and from very orthodox people such as a young man I met leading the schola.) They also view Mass more as a time for reverent worship of God and less as a time for social/ community interaction. This doesn’t equate to being unfriendly.

10 Likes

To me friendliness and smiling doesn’t equate to niceness. Someone can sit in a corner away from everyone and not say two words to anyone and still be nice. If the person is not putting anyone down, not criticizing or judging anyone, and not being obnoxious or a bully I’d consider that person nice.

4 Likes

I think a very difficult balance for us is, on one hand always to be courteous, kind and merciful. We are all sinners. I heard a priest say that we (traditional Catholics) are not the best, but rather the worst. That is why God is relying on us to uphold and treasure the traditions. Because we need them the most. Humbling words, but I think true.

So yes, kindness. However!

Someone it needs to be mixed properly with …. Intolerance. That is, intolerance for error, evils and the works of enemies of God, especially against children and the most vulnerable, but against the Holy Faith and all that is sacred and good that God gives.
So, no compromise, but merciful also with everyone who struggles and falls.

Can we be merciful with those who destroy the Faith and have no compunction in so doing?

Hmmmmm - I don’t think so.

What do you think?

This! Yes @Tis_Bearself. Before we became Catholic, my wife and I always had the sense that Catholics were cold and unfriendly. Our only contact with them as a group we’re weddings and funerals. One Sunday out of the blue 12 years ago we decided on the spur of the moment to attend a Mass. we went in, sat in the back, and the first thing we noticed was the silence. As we watched, we began to notice that nearly everyone there was in silent private prayer. Mass started, and we noticed, as my sister-in-law would say, “all those silly little things Catholics do,” meaning the sign of the cross, the kneeling, the holy water, etc, but we began to see something else. Everyone was doing them in unison, not like they were trying to be seen by everyone else as Uber holy, they were doing them as if it were the most natural thing in the world. They started to appear as one unified body, the body of Christ Paul speaks of in the New Testament. Our assessment of cold and unfriendly melted away during the Eucharistic celebration. The reverence and awe that they all had as they received Jesus made the hair on my neck stand up. It hit me. They weren’t there to chat with their friends, they weren’t there to be seen by others, and they sure weren’t there to see me. They were there for Jesus. Period. Realizing this was possibly the most profound thing that has ever happened to me.

21 Likes

Thank you so much for this, Eric.

1 Like

I do a bit in funeral ministry and attend a good share of the Requiem Masses. Funerals are a time for grieving. Loved ones can smile at memories, make cheerful quips concerning an aspect of the deceased’s life. There will also be grieving and tears, there is also shock at times that this happened, especially if it is sudden. There can be anger.

We really should not be weighing our ‘being nice’ virtue against those grieving for a loved one.

We Catholics all follow tradition, we are all traditional catholics when it comes to a comparison with another denomination.

I feel you mean this , rather then traditional catholics as in EF compared with OF preferring Catholics. BTW , I find nice and friendliness in the congregation in both forms.

1 Like

Ok, I don’t agree, but I appreciate your thoughts.

Can you expand on what you do not agree on?

1 Like

Beautifully said and what a great experience. I would always hope and wish that we can maintain that kind of respect in our parishes (where it is sometimes lost). Thank you for sharing that.

Well, I do not accept that all Catholics follow tradition. I think, actually, only a small minority do. There is quite a big difference between a traditional Catholic and a “modern” one (for lack of a better word. I think you can look at national surveys to discover what most Catholics believe. It’s not following Catholic traditiona at all, unfortunately.

‘A tree is known by its fruit; a man by his deeds. A good deed is never lost; he who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love.’ - St Basil the Great

3 Likes

I’d be curious to know what “intolerance “ looks like to you in the context of people whom you feel are “against the Holy Faith,” to use your words. Do you consider all theological disagreement as being “against the Holy Faith?” Do we shun non-Catholics, refuse to have them as friends, publicly call them out for their religious views? Or only those who publicly speak out against a Church position? And what of them? What in your view does “Catholic intolerance “ look like?

1 Like

Do you feel that St. Basil was being unkind here?

[quote]“It is not only one Church which is in peril, nor yet two or three which have fallen under this terrible storm. The mischief of this heresy spreads almost from the borders of Illyricum to the Thebaid. Its bad seeds were first sown by the infamous Arius; they then took deep root through the labours of many who vigorously cultivated the impiety between his time and ours. Now they have produced their deadly fruit. The doctrines of true religion are overthrown. The laws of the Church are in confusion. The ambition of men, who have no fear of God, rushes into high posts, and exalted office is now publicly known as the prize of impiety. The result is, that the worse a man blasphemes, the fitter the people think him to be a bishop. Clerical dignity is a thing of the past. There is a complete lack of men shepherding the Lord’s flock with knowledge.
5) “Keep striving until the fire of heresy is put out, before it consumes the Church.”[/quote]

All things therefore whatsoever you would that men should do to you, do you also to them. For this is the law and the prophets. Matthew 7:12

Those are great questions.
First, no - there can be disagreement on some matters and we have to tolerate that, where permitted. But even here there are limits to what should not be tolerated. Irreverence towards Our Lord, Our Lady and the Saints - or sacred things, we can’t accept.
I think with non-Catholics we first have to recognize that they belong to a false religion. We cannot tolerate their errors, in the sense that we think it is ok. We do not need to combat them continually or afflict them with arguments all the time, but we cannot tolerate them presenting false teachings unopposed. This assumes we have the authority and position to stop such a thing. We live as a persecuted minority in a non-Catholic country so we cannot stop them directly. But where we have the responsibility (in our home for example) we should not tolerate anti-Catholic teachings to go unopposed. We should tell guests that it’s not permitted to attack the Holy Faith.
For public assaults against the Faith, again we have to work within our sphere of influence. But we can’t just say that it’s ok to offend God.
I think a good starting point is to accept that Protestants, Jews, Muslims, Pagans and Atheists are at enmity with the Catholic Faith.
Can we be friends? Well, we can have associations with such. I think it’s difficult to have close, trusted friendships, but perhaps it’s possible.
The point I’m making is that we should be cautious about being indifferent to false teachings and also in giving the impression that errors of faith are not that important.
But no, I’m not saying that we have to oppose everyone.

I’m also reflecting on successes and mistakes I’ve had in my life. Successes when I was more bold, mistakes when I was too tolerant.

The Catholic Church has Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture. We are this Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture Church.
We have Apostolic Tradition and ecclesial traditions. These are what make us Catholic, a Church, established by Jesus.
http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p1s1c2a2.htm

This is a big difference to the modern argument currently raging of EF or OF or modernist or Pre Vat II Catholic.

The world , other denominations firstly see us as Catholics of the Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture. Hence the argument of Sola Scripture in some denominations vs the Catholic Tradition + Scripture.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.