The “nice” people think they’re going straight because they’re traveling in the best circles.
It’s a peculiar thing about society, that it has no place for those who are either too bad or too good. That is why on the hill of Calvary, we have our Blessed Lord on the cross in the middle of two thieves. The two thieves were too bad for conventional morality, and our Blessed Lord was too good.
The “nice” people are very often the people who are not “found out”, and those “awful” people are the people who have been “found out”.
—Bishop Fulton Sheen
When all else fails (and all else has most definitely failed), Catholics need to return to the way of Christ. This involves three fundamental distinctions which the Church always neglects at her peril. We must:
- Fathom the gulf which separates charity from “niceness”. To be charitable—that is, to love—is to desire the good of another; it demands that we know the truth so that we can help others to abandon all the heavily discounted counterfeit goods, enabling them to become repentant sinners. To be “nice” is merely to make others comfortable, which is so often, for all of us, the direct opposite of what we need.
Charity is rooted in courage; “niceness” in cowardice. Charity offers the sublime gift yet daunting challenge of mercy, the acceptance of which demands contrition. But “niceness” destroys mercy by confusing it with worldly comfort. It erodes our love of Christ by redefining Him to be more like us—
—from the Catholic Culture article, The first requirement of Church renewal in our time by Dr. Jeff Mirus