Thoughts from St. Josemaria Escriva 2

The cheerful smile for those who bother you; that silence when you're unjustly accused; your kind conversation with people you find boring and tactless; the daily effort to overlook one irritating detail or another in those who live with you… this, with perseverance, is indeed solid interior mortification.

Don't say, "that person bothers me." Think: "That person sanctifies me." (The Way, nn. 173-174)

This was a method employed by St. Therese of Lisieux as well; she succeeded so well that annoyances became no longer annoying, because her attitude towards them we so much shaped by the aspect in which they were good–as a means of showing her love for Jesus and her sisters. This way of handling annoyances from other persons is in many cases also the most effective way of resolving them; people tend to act as we expect them to–if we treat people as grumpy persons, they are more likely to be so; if we treat them as cheerful and kind persons, they are more likely to be that way. Also in this sense, then, a cheerful reaction to annoyances brought by others around us is often, though not always, an effective means that gets rid of those annoyances.

There is no excuse for those who could be scholars are are not (The Way, n. 332).You frequent the sacraments, you pray, you are chaste, but you don't study. Don't tell me you're good, you're only "goodish" (n. 337).

Formerly, when human knowledge–science–was very limited, it seemed quite feasible for a single scholar to defend and vindicate our holy faith.
Today, with the extension and the intensity of modern science, the apologists have to divide the work among themselves, if they wish to defend the Church scientifically in all fields.
You… cannot shirk this responsibility (n. 338).

St. Josemaria Escriva applies the principle of charity, that where there is a pressing human need, those with particular talents to fill that need are called to do so. And in order for the faith to be received in the manner it deserves, it is necessary for there to be many scholars of deep faith… some whose scholarship is of properly religious matters, others whose scholarship directly pertains to secular matters, but whose life is imbued with Christian spirit, manifesting the harmony of reason and faith, nature and grace–how grace ennobles nature rather than contradicting it.

St. Josemaria's claim that for one called to scholarly work, the "interior life" is insufficient, is a particular example of St. James rule, "faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead" (James 2:17). The interior life has to be expressed in deeds profitable for the building up of God's children in charity.

It's good for you to put such determination into your study, as long as you put the same determination into acquiring interior life (n. 341).

As an interior life that does not produce works of charity is barren and deserving of being cut down, so external works without an interior life are dry and of little value. Though he stresses the importance of scholarly work for those called to it, St. Josemaria Escriva avoids the activist or intellectualist error of seeing the true value of a scholar's life in his "success" in scholarly endeavors.

Booklet On Evolution

The booklet on evolution I was writing, and mentioned in an earlier post, has now been published under the title Darwin and Evolution: from a Catholic Perspective, and is available from Catholic Truth Society in England. I've also had several copies shipped to the USA and arranged to resell them from there, which for one or two copies will be cheaper (and presumably quickly) than having them shipped from England. More information and selections from the book are available here.

Thoughts from St. Josemarie Escriva

Never reprimand anyone while you feel provoked over a fault that has been committed. Wait until the next day, or even longer. Then make your remonstrance calmly and with a purified intention. You'll gain more with an affectionate word than you ever would from three hours of quarreling. Control your temper (The Way, n. 10).

The irascible passions, such as anger, or to a lesser extent, annoyance, can color our thoughts and actions a lot. St. Therese of Lisieux sometimes fled a situation in order to avoid acting upon the anger that she felt. Based on this, St. Josemaria gives two reasons for waiting, if possible, before our anger or irritation subsides before acting to remedy a situation, by reprimanding someone, correcting an error, etc. First, our action will be calmer. Consequently, it will be seen as more reasonable by the other person. It is well known that anger makes us less reasonable, and so a reprimand or correction given while one is angry is taken less seriously. Even if the reprimand is objectively justified, the reasonableness of it is less apparent, since it manifests itself under the appearance of anger. In the words of St. Francis de Sales, "it is a duty to resist evil and to repress the faults of those for whom we are responsible, steadily and firmly, but gently and quietly…. Correction given in anger, however tempered by reason, never has so much effect as that which is given altogether without anger; for the reasonable soul being naturally subject to reason, it is a mere tyranny which subjects it to passion, and where ever reason is led by passion it becomes odious, and its just rule obnoxious" (Introduction to the Devout Life III, ch. 8).

Secondly, our intention will be purer. Even if our main intention in correcting a person is good, namely to guide them to act well, out of concern for them, anger brings its own motive, which weakens this main intention, even if it does not destroy it.

Will-power. A very important quality. Don't disregard the little things, which are really never futile or trivial. For by the constant practice of repeated self-denial in little things, with God's grace you will increase in strength and manliness of character (The Way, n. 19).

If you don't get up at a set hour, you'll never fulfill your plan of life. (The Way, n. 78)

I put these two sayings together because there is a close connection between the second, particular advice, and the first general principle. Because sleep, like food, is a basic human need, regularity in this matter conditions the will overall to obey a reasonable rule rather than whatever impulse moves it at the moment. This advice, however, needs two qualifications. First, from the point of view of orderliness, the "rule" for wakefulness and sleep need not be as simple a rule as going to bed at the same time and getting up at the same time every day (although there is much to be said for this, on account of the body's natural waking and sleeping cycle). Someone whose work requires him sometimes to work days and sometimes to work nights cannot keep the same waking and sleeping schedule all the time (at least if keeps a basically normal schedule). Secondly, like all concrete practical rules, this rule is open to exceptions. If one stays up most of the night with a sick person, the good of regularity and of getting up at the usual hour is in quite a few cases more than offset by the harm produced by the deprivation of sleep, and one ought therefore to get more sleep (though sometimes, for the reason to be stated below, it is better to make up for the short sleep by way of a nap or going to bed earlier).

The reason for stating "get up at a set hour," rather than "go to bed at a set hour" is probably for two reasons. First, sleeping later than usual more frequently leads us to skip a significant part of our daily plan (e.g., morning meditation or spiritual reading, breakfast, or a shower) than going to bed early does, and sleeping later than usual leads directly to these omissions, while staying up late only leads to them indirectly, inasmuch as it makes it more difficult to get up at the customary time. Secondly, getting up at a set hour is a more reasonable rule than going to sleep at a set hour. Because, by and large, our activities on various days differ more than our activity on various nights, the time when we are tired enough to sleep may vary more than the time when we wake up does.