According to the Louis de la Rivière in his Vie de saint François de Sales (1624 – p. 584), the doctor and bishop of Geneva, St. Francis de Sales (+1622) told friend and prodigy Jean Pierre Camus (+1652) Bishop of Belley:
“Soyez toujours le plus doux que vous pourrez, et souvenez-vous que l’on prends plus de mouches avec une cuillerée de miel qu’avec cent barils de vinaigre.
Always be as gentle as you can and remember that one catches more flies with a spoonful of honey than with a hundred barrels of vinegar.”
Honey and vinegar. They seem to go together.
Just for fun, here is a sample about hearts and honey and vinegar from Augustine as quoted in Benedict XVI’s Spe Salvi:
“St Augustine…describes very beautifully the intimate relationship between prayer and hope. He defines prayer as an exercise of desire. Man was created for greatness – for God Himself; he was created to be filled by God. But his heart is too small for the greatness to which it is destined. It must be stretched…He then uses a very beautiful image to describe this process of enlargement and preparation of the human heart. “Suppose that God wishes to fill you with honey [a symbol of God’s tenderness and goodness]; but if you are full of vinegar, where will you put the honey?” The vessel, that is your heart, must first be enlarged and then cleansed, freed from the vinegar and its taste. This requires hard work and is painful, but in this way alone do we become suited to that for which we are destined. Even if Augustine speaks directly only of our capacity for God, it is nevertheless clear that through this effort by which we are freed from vinegar and the taste of vinegar, not only are we made free for God, but we also become open to others…When we pray properly we undergo a process of inner purification which opens us up to God and thus to our fellow human beings as well. (Spe Salvi 33)”.
Honey and vinegar!