A very kindly priest used to excuse the mistakes in etiquette which he noted in children by saying, “Well, it’s not so much the manners but the manner that counts.” He used to point out that if a cultured Chinese gentleman were to call on us immediately after arriving from China his manners would be all wrong as judged by our standards. But his manner would be perfect, courteous, serious, and respectful.
Keep in mind that we may forget which fork to use at a formal banquet, and in our nervousness we may forget the right thing to say when introducing people. But if the manner is that of a lady or gentleman with a truly kind heart, nobody will think the less of us.
Many have perfected their manners but they cannot hide the hurried, indifferent manner of their greeting. Many never make a mistake in form but their manner lacks warm sympathy for others. With whom would you rather live, the man of perfect manners who really cares nothing for you, or the sincere friend who occasionally slips on a rule of manners?
Perfect manners can be learned by a selfish, smart person with nothing but contempt for his fellows. But the kindly manner, the royal manner, the kingly manner that bespeaks a warm heart can come only from a true man and a true lady.
And how can one become a true gentleman, a true lady? How can one learn to treat everyone–the rude, the noisy, the impolite, the irritating, as well as the pleasant person–how can we learn to treat every person with good manners, a kindly manner, yes, with love? The answer is known to you. The Catholic boy and girl know that they must love their fellow men because in them they see Christ. This is the true spirit of Catholic manners.
Softcover, 23 pages.