Building Catholic Character in Students: Let Reason guide you

catholic book character

The Catholic Book of Character and Success: Chapter Notes

Chapter Twenty: Let Reason guide you.

  • The counterfeit of strength of will is called stubbornness.
  • It is as undesirable to be stubborn as it is desirable to be strong willed.
  • But many confuse this on a daily basis, confusing stubborness with strength of will.
  • Stubbornness means obstinacy, unreasonably persistent and inflexible in their own determination.
  • Such people are pests, making themselves a burden to those around them.
  • The difference between the stubborn and those with true strength of will is to be found in reasonableness.
  • The virtuous will be determined and consistent in their adopted resolutions but will yield to good healthy reasons when presented with them.
  • They are not welded stubbornly to their position, but only to virtuous ones that are reasonable.
  • On the other hand the stubborn hold to their positions because it is their position. Their pride and ego prevent them from changing for the good.
  • There are no reasoned arguments that can sway such a person: they are intractable and immature.
  • Only by force, fear or gain will they change so they are best left alone.
  • In cultivating our will then, we must subject it to reason as an unreasonable will breeds stubbornness.
  • In setting out of a course of action we must therefore weigh up our motives, remaining open minded and willing to change if necessary.
  • The ability to change our mind when we find we are wrong is a sign of a noble person with strength of will.
  • A cultivated mind such as this can both be open to change and persistent in resolve, without ever being domineering.
  • Historical figures such as Louis IX of France, Joan of Arc, Washington and Lincoln all have virtuously excelled in courage without stubbornness.
  • In considering your own social circle you will also be able to identify noble characters with strength of will, but who will not attain public greatness.
  • In others you will observe the failings of self pride and pigheadedness: ones who are easily overcome in points of principle but who will stick dogmatically to some minute points of personal preference.
  • In constant study of observation of both types you will learn to ascertain what decisions to make yourself.
  • You will find what parts of your character that need to be rooted out and what parts need to be nurtured.
  • You reason will guide you to take the middle course between weakness and stubbornness and in doing so forge a virtuous strength of will.

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