The Virtue of Meekness
The usual meaning given to "meek" is: "patient and mild; not inclined to anger or resentment". All these actions, done with the motive of faith, can be seen in Fr Preca's behaviour and some episodes emphatically show how much he was meek. For instance once a policeman begged his forgiveness for having insulted him publicly in a shop full of people. He forgave him willingly and after, he felt this inspiration about this virtue: "If you forgive another human being, how much more does God forgive those who implore his mercy!"
On another occasion, Fr Preca was celebrating mass. When he was reciting "Our Father" and was absorbed in saying "forgive our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us", he remembered a person who had caused him to suffer so much that he was tempted to seek vengeance. But he looked straight forward at the Sacred Host in his hand and said to Jesus: "Master, out of respect for you I forgive him".
When speaking about the virtue of meekness in the life of the founder of the Society of Christian Doctrine, we have to bear in mind that he had two types of enemies. The first category of enemies were those who were outright against him. They resorted to depicting him as an insane person, and they even wrote these detractions through anonymous letters in local newspapers. Their aim was to destroy the Society, which he had founded. The next group of enemies were those in Church circles who, although generally with the right intention, they were causing him much suffering with their misunderstandings.
During all these persecutions, he forgave all those who were causing him harm and considerable suffering. He never confided anything to the members of the newly-founded Society. But in 1914, when hell seemed to devour him and his followers, he was inspired to propose a Vow of Meekness for his members. By this he meant that the member makes a vow every day not to seek vengeance on his enemy on the next day, and deems it a sin if he does not keep his promise. This vow was pronounced for the first time in 1914 by the particular superiors of the Society in the presence of Blessed George Preca in front of the miraculous Crucifix.
He was able to overcome himself in a heroic manner by his continuous meditation on Jesus nailed to the cross. In The Great Book he writes: "Jesus Christ, hanging from the cross with his hands and feet nailed on to it as victim to jealousy and hatred, innocently condemned to death, insulted by others who made a mockery of his miracles and power, sincerely prayed for his enemies, "Father, forgive them" (Lk 23: 34) (Page Twenty-six).
He also considered one of the programmes of the School of Christ as one of forgiveness. In The Discipleship he states: "On the themes of humility and meekness, Christ the Teacher clearly said to his disciples, "Learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart" (Matt 11:29) . Nor without meekness for unless we sincerely forgive others, God will not forgive our sins either." Thus the programme in the School of Jesus Christ is humility and meekness" (Discipleship, Various Programmes at the School of Jesus Christ, the only Teacher of all, D).
His writings on this virtue are numerous, but in The Letter on Meekness he wrote like a simple treatise on this subject, in such a lovely way that once, a parish priest and a contemporary of Fr Preca, affirmed that it seems to be a letter written by one of the apostles. It is divided into thirteen chapters and when one reads it in a prayerful way, it is very inspiring. He seems like a psychologist when describing how human nature is hurt when somebody offends it. But nevertheless, following the example of Jesus Christ, the apostles, martyrs, saints, and other well-renowned international figures, one is duty-bound to forgive his enemies. He was quite convinced, however, that: "Meekness is no easy matter. One can only realize what it involves when one is constrained to put it into practice. Among the hardest tasks one encounters, two rank foremost: one is the love of enemies and the other is continence. Of these two, love of enemies is the most difficult." Letter on Meekness 4, 1-4
The teachings of Fr Preca on meekness are not to be interpreted that one is to be spiritless. He used to say that we ought to be meek but not cowards. In fact, on several occasions, when some persons confided to him that they are disturbed by others, he advised them to report their cases to the police. Thus meekness, according to Fr Preca, is not a weakness but a virtue which is acquired by self-mortification, prayer and following the instructions of the School of Jesus Christ.
"Blessed are the meek. They shall inherit the Land." Matt 5:5