He that loves God does not desire to be esteemed and loved by his fellow-men: the single desire of his heart is to enjoy the favor of Almighty God, who alone forms the object of his love.
[...] St. James writes, that as God confers his graces with open hands upon the humble, so does he close them against the proud, whom he resists. God resists the proud, and gives His grace to the humble.
[...] The saying of St. Francis of Assisi is most true: “What I am before God, that I am.” Of what use is it to pass for great in the eyes of the world, if before God we be vile and worthless?
And on the contrary, what matters it to be despised by the world, provided we be dear and acceptable in the eyes of God? St. Augustine thus writes: “The approbation of him who praises neither heals a bad conscience, nor does the reproach of one who blames wound a good conscience.”
[...] “What does it matter,” says St. Teresa, “though we be condemned and reviled by creatures, if before Thee, O God! we are great and without blame?”
The saints had no other desire than to live unknown, and to pass for contemptible in the estimation of all.
Thus writes St. Francis de Sales: “But what wrong do we suffer when people have a bad opinion of us, since we ought to have such of ourselves? Perhaps we know that we are bad, and yet wish to pass off for good in the estimation of others.”
Oh, what security is found in the hidden life for such as wish cordially to love Jesus Christ! Jesus Christ himself set us the example, by living hidden and despised for thirty years in a workshop.
And with the same view of escaping the esteem of men, the saints went and hid themselves in deserts and in caves.
It was said by St. Vincent of Paul that a love of appearing in public, and of being spoken of in terms of praise, and of hearing our conduct commended, or that people should say that we succeed admirably and work wonders, is an evil which, while it makes us unmindful of God, contaminates our best actions, and proves the most fatal drawback to the spiritual life.
Whoever, therefore, would make progress in the love of Jesus Christ, must absolutely give a death-blow to the love of self-esteem.
[...] In order, then, to be pleasing in the sight of God, we must avoid all ambition of appearing and of making a parade in the eyes of men. And we must shun with still greater caution the ambition of governing others.
Alphonsus Liguori (1696-1787): Practice of the Love of Jesus Christ, 6