From the wonderful little book written in the 1890’s:
Charity towards your neighbor, tolerance for his opinions, indulgence for his defects, compassion for his errors, yes; but no cowardly and guilty concessions to human respect. Never allow fear of the ridicule or contempt of men to make you blush for your faith.
We are not even forbidden to call one human weakness to the assistance of another that is contrary to it: men do not like to contradict themselves, and they dread to be considered fickle.
Well, then, in order that no person may be ignorant of the fact that you are a Christian, once for all boldly confess your faith and your firm resolve to practice it, and let it be known that in all your actions your sole desire is to seek the glory of God and the good of your neighbor.
Let this profession be made upon occasion in a gentle and modest manner, but firmly and positively; and you will find that subsequently it will be much easier for you to continue what you have thus courageously begun.
We should not undertake to perfect ourselves upon all points at once; resolutions as to details ought to be made and carried out one by one, directing them first against our predominant passion.
By a predominant passion we mean the source of that sin to which we oftenest yield and from which spring the greater number of our faults.
In order to attack it successfully it is essential to make use of strategy. It must be approached little by little, besieged with great caution as if it were the stronghold of an enemy, and the outposts taken one after another.
For example, if your ruling passion be anger, simply propose to yourself in the beginning never to speak when you feel irritated.
Renew this resolution two or three times during the day and ask God’s pardon for every time you have failed against it.
When the results of this first resolution shall have become a habit, so that you no longer have any difficulty in keeping it, you can take a step forward.
Propose, for instance, to repress promptly every thought capable of agitating you, or of arousing interior anger; afterwards you can adopt the practice of meeting without annoyance persons who are naturally repugnant to you; then of being able to treat with especial kindness those of whom you have reason to complain.
Finally, you will learn to see in all things, even in those most painful to nature, the will of God offering you opportunities to acquire merit; and in those who cause you suffering, only the instruments of this same merciful providence.
You will then no longer think of repulsing or bewailing them, but will bless and thank your divine Savior for having chosen you to bear with Him the burden of His cross, and for deigning to hold to your lips the precious chalice of His passion.
Some saints recommend us to make an act of hope or love or to perform some act of mortification when we discover that we have failed to keep our resolutions. This practice is good, but if you adopt it do not consider it of obligation nor bind yourself so strictly to it as to suppose you have committed a sin when you neglect it.
It is by this progressive method that you can at length succeed in entirely overcoming your passions, and will be able to acquire the virtues you lack. Always begin with what is easiest. Choose at first external acts over which the will has greater control, and in time you can advance from these, little by little, to the most interior and difficult details of the spiritual life.
Resolutions of too general a character, such as, for example, to be always moderate in speech, always patient, chaste, and peaceable and the like, ordinarily do not amount to much and sometimes to nothing at all.
To undertake little at a time, and to pursue this little with perseverance until one has by degrees brought it to perfection, is a common rule of human prudence. The saints particularly recommend us to apply it to the subject of our resolutions.
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“The objection that a child should wait until he can understand what he’s doing when he receives Holy Communion is no objection at all. He understands as well at seven as at seventy. The Holy Eucharist is a mystery as profound and unfathomable as the Trinity. One does not understand how Christ can assume the form of bread and wine. One believes.” -Mary Reed Newland, How to Raise Good Catholic Children http://amzn.to/2qKqcTO (afflink)
We are like a block of shapeless marble. If we want the master artist (God) to sculpt something beautiful out of us then we need to accept the blows of the hammer and chisel with confidence in God and with the realization that “for those that love God everything works together for the good”…
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