Acquiring the correct principles
Adopt the Golden Rule when dealing with others. Acknowledging the correct principles is only the beginning and is far easier than applying them. Our conscience speaks to us and helps us identify right from wrong.
Applying the the correct principles is more difficult and that is why there are so few men of character. Knowledge is one thing but applying that knowledge of the correct principles, often in the face of hostile unpopularity, current fashions and an anti-Christian society is another; but stick with them one must.
Self education and self formation.
The rudiments of self education and formation are effort, self denial and self conquest.
Turning always to the virtues and aligning with what God wants is crucial for keeping on the correct path in one’s formation: Thy Will be done.
Look to achieve a great goal.
Work incessantly towards a great goal, day by day. He must find the path and stick to it. The young man must be honest and ask himself:
Where am I now?
Where do I want to be?
Is this goal a lofty and noble one?
What do I need to do to get there?
The Poet Robert Steinick wrote…
“Be not a weather vane
And do not always start new things
What you have set out to do
In that persist until the end.”
With the help of God and not from using influential friends, pulling strings or disgracing oneself, will the young man achieve his goal by acts of virtue.
Energy is about persistence and resilience to continue towards the goal after the initial enthusiasm has worn off.
Energy includes careful consideration of the what before setting out on a task. It is not about daydreams or imperiousness, it is about application of effort to a worthy goal: look before you leap!
Liberty is designed to protect not hinder.
Unfortunately this concept inflames the passions in many young men today. They they believe liberty is akin to unchecked freedom in all things.
However unchecked liberty is the fast lane to ruin. Too many young men want to be independent now, forgetting that their parents and teachers want their independence too.
These adults desire a young person to be educated with independence in mind and be ready for the heavy responsibilities that it brings.
Misunderstanding the concept of independence, what many youth desire is actually disorder and freedom from obligations: this is what they call freedom.
But freedom is freedom from disorder. A society cannot be truly free unless it adheres to law and order which is in step with God’s laws.
Otherwise the youth especially, will be enslaved in moral disorderliness.
Freedom therefore is freedom to be independently dutiful and trustworthy towards God and his fellow man, in that order: Deo servire regnare est. (To serve God is to reign)
Freedom is not enslavement to caprice and passions, but spiritual independence and the liberty of soul from societal evils.
Liberty is the harmonious development of body and soul. The body is sacred as is the soul and it should be freed from that which lacks virtue.
In everyday life great souls are not developed by acts of martyrdom or for dying for one’s country: rather they are created by everyday heroic acts of character in daily life.
To use an analogy of money: It’s not $100 bills that we need to produce every once in a while, but the little 5 cent coins that we deposit every day, that together amass over a lifetime into a spiritual treasure.
Great souls are formed by the consistent everyday things in life like being kind, truthful or showing patience towards others.
Selflessness and Selfishness
Properly ordered self-love is not selfishness, it is a commandment from God and it guarantees our survival and helps us avoid harm.
Being dutiful and obedient in this manner, towards the commandments of God and Church, puts us in the proper order of creation. This is selflessness.
Selfishness rather is perverted self-love that puts ourselves before others. It puts man above God and Church. There is no purpose in selfishness other than the individual’s gratification. All selfishness is pride.
Learning to say No
Learning to say no is a great skill. The young man through deliberate practice must say no to temptation, say no to anger, say no to passions, say no to peer pressure and say no to social fashions.
All virtue depends on self control and a person’s command of his passions.
Men are admired when they display great self will and control, like the Antarctic explorers who go through incredible feats of physical and mental endurance to reach their goals.
Let your soul reach for the heights by avoiding the snags of uncontrolled passions.
This will involve walking a path that modern society has shunned – Contra torrentem – Against the tide – which requires endurance to avoid being swept along by the immoral currents of today.
The young man must stand firm for his beliefs though all around him do not. This will mean withstanding the taunts and loudmouths, the temptations and the sensual foundations of modern society.
In his formation, the youth must avoid revenge for wrongs. Honour cannot be taken from anyone externally. Only a person can lose his honour by acts or thoughts that lack virtue.
Knowing how little men control their passions, the youth should avoid giving offence, and furthermore be an example of a real man by avoiding backbiting and calumny.
Too many young men think that they are not men unless they receive satisfaction. But this is prideful and the catalyst for greater evils to ensue.
The youth must understand that the most important thing is to do the right thing by God. This is a true sign of strength and bravery.
Resilience like the strongest of towers, has to be built brick by brick, virtue by virtue, over time. Strong towers, capable of withstanding long sieges by the enemy’s assaults take years to build.
Within that stronghold is a fine man of character who is a captive of his conscience. A man who truly is a man, knows that he cannot run from his conscience and so submits to it: God talks to him through it.
But vigilance must be ever-present: the youth cannot lower his guard. He has the world against him and unruly passion within him. Both wish to weaken the stones of the tower and they will never tire in their assaults.
The enemy is adept at identifying the weakest point of the fortress and will concentrate its forces at that point. The enemy knows that as soon as one weak point is compromised,the other parts are at risk of falling too.
At times a man will succumb to the enemy through his weak nature. But a resilient man who has formed his character consistently over time by virtue will not fall at the first blow. He will pick himself up with renewed strength and being rallied by his conscience will counterattack.
He will not surrender, and will send reinforcements to retake the lost ground and by the help of God, repel the enemy.
The youth must listen to his conscience telling him: Don’t do it! Don’t do it! Be resilient! He must be a captive of his conscience, not a captive of the world. Forgetting what others think, he must listen to what his conscience says to him.
Those who succumb to the enemy either by treachery or timidity cannot hide from their conscience: they will never know true peace.
A good conscience is the softest pillow to sleep upon.
Angelus Press have produced a recent edition of this work which is highly recommended. It is available both in print and digital format.
Part two here.