The topic of being nice and if it has relevance in practicing the faith has been brought forward more than a few times over the years. Articles have been written by Catholic authors and others exhibiting misunderstandings on the idea of whether niceness has any kind of importance to the faith in terms of living a good moral and holy life.
What Does it Mean to be Nice?
Being nice is not an action but a demeanor. Kindness is an actual action done. There are multiple ways to do both. It is necessary to differentiate that niceness is a demeanor and a behavior toward another person or persons. When someone does a charitable action toward another, an almsgiving, or an act of mercy this is kindness. Niceness on the other hand is the way we speak to a person, the facial expressions, body language and overall demeanor toward another.
With this said, does niceness have any relevance in living a good and holy life? Yes, it does. Sincerity, kind-demeanor, friendliness is a call to show love toward others. All of us can recall times in our lives when we or someone we know were not treated in this way. It can often lead to sin when positive and kind demeanor are left out. There is nothing quite like being treated meanly, and it is something most of us never forget. Another point to mention is unkind and mean behavior toward others is sinful when rooted in vice.
The difference between niceness and kindness is that kindness does not necessarily encompass niceness. One can do a charitable act or action without it being “nice.” Kindness is a virtue whereas niceness is not. Niceness is somewhat of a bonus to kindness, but it is not necessary to being kind. This is not meant to be confusing. Since kindness is an action, it is likened to a corporal or spiritual work of mercy.
Does Niceness Have Relevance in the Life of Faith?
When niceness has the intention of goodness and virtue and not of evil, niceness is good. Niceness in the way of virtue can help to bring healing to the lowly, spread love, and to evangelize. When niceness is not directed toward goodness and virtue it is quite the opposite and can lead others to sin.
When we understand that niceness must be directed toward good not evil, then niceness is something to strive for in daily interactions to help to make the world a better place. Friendliness, sincerity, and niceness can help to bring love and needed healing to a suffering world. When people feel loved and welcomed, they are bound to walk in a more positive life direction headed toward God and toward Heaven.
Called to Be Holy: But What Does it Mean to Be "Holy"?
We are all called to be holy but be let us be sure we understand what this means. The definition of holy is dedicated or consecrated to God. It is much more than this short definition, but it is something to start with. Being holy does not encompass being like a police officer in catching the sins of others but in not recognizing our own sin. It is not in being overly pious or only being concerned with the wrongdoing of the world and being afraid to look too closely at ourselves. It is not re-active to the faith; it is in being pro-active in the life of virtue. Earthlings are not in Heaven yet, so holiness is not a once in done. We all have a “ways to go” as the saying goes.
Saints are those who love God more than anything else and who also love and serve others. Many saints of the faith serve the poor, the outcasts, and those who are unloved and forgotten by others. Saints are indeed holy people. They are kind. Saints are not necessarily nice; however, one can assume that saint-like individuals are inwardly and outwardly focused on the two great commandments as a primary focal point in loving God with and in loving others.
There is much more to be said and researched on this topic, but to answer the main question of this article again, yes, being nice is relevant to the faith when directed toward the good. There is one thing for sure, meanness, bullying, and false piety is not of God. Do not be fooled by those who claim that holiness can be accomplished without any kind of goodness or kindness. It cannot. In addition, individuals who claim that niceness has no relevance to serving others are incorrect for sure.
The evangelization of the Catholic faith can be enhanced when people of faith choose to display friendly, kind, and nice demeanor. When we strive to be more Christ-like, we will find ourselves reaching out to the lonely, the poor, the sick, the ostracized, and those who need to be shown the love of God. In doing these acts, it certainly cannot hurt and may help by being nice. Our faith must be active and alive. Being nice may certainly help to bring that faith to the next level when combined with love, mercy, and compassion.