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Saint Alphonsus Liguori on How to Perform Our Actions Well      July 19, 2017

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, catachesis, Domestic Church, family, General Catholic, Glory, Grace, Holy suffering, mortification, Saints, sanctity, Tradition, true leadership, Virtue.
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In performing our actions well, the Saint means in the manner most pleasing to God.  This excerpt is from The True Spouse of Jesus Christ, a book originally intended for religious, but this section in particular has great relevance for all souls, not only those specifically consecrated to God in religious life (pp. 187-9).

Many times, we may get bogged down with the seemingly dull routine of life. We might find our job less than satisfying. We may be tempted to find as many distractions to get us through the day as possible (like, say, blogging).  We might find raising and educating kids very tiresome after 5 or 10 or even 2 years.  We might find it a lot more appealing to spend the afternoon on Facebook rather than do the laundry and check the kid’s math homework.

Even though our daily actions may not seem glamorous, even though they may eventually come to seem to be a tiresome routine, these constitute (for laity) the duties of our vocation in life and the means God has given us to grow in Grace and virtue.  We should not only perform these duties with great diligence, but we should even thank God for these means  He gives us to draw nearer to Him in this life.

Begin excerpt:

The following are the means to perform our actions well:

The first means is to preserve during the discharge of our duties a lively sense of the presence of God, that thus every act may be worthy of His divine eyes.

The second means is, to perform every work as if it were the only duty you had to fulfill. When at prayer, let your sole care be to pray well; when you say the Divine Office [which is not enjoined as precept on laity, but which is an extremely beneficial devotion], direct all your attention to the devout recitation of it; when engaged in any employment, your soul concern should be to discharge it well.  Think of nothing but the duty in which you are occupied. To examine, during the time of prayer, how you will direct a certain work, or to reflect on the mans of performing some other duty, is a temptation of the enemy.  “When,” says Saint John of Avila, “any unseasonable thought enters your mind, say: God does not will that I think at this moment on such a subject; and therefore it is not useful for me to reflect upon it: when He commands  me, I shall attend to it.”

The third means is, to perform every action as if it were the last of your life.  St. Anthony frequently recommended this means to his disciples. “In every work,” says St. Bernard, “let each one say to himself: If I were about to die, would I do this?”  Would I it in in this manner? Were this the last Mass that I should hear, with what devotion would I be present at it?………Were this my last Communion or my last meditation, with what fervor would I perform it?  When, says St. Basil, you discharge the duties of the morning, imagine that you shall not live till evening; when night approaches, think that you shall not see morning……….

Four, to think each day only on the labors of the day, is another means which greatly assists weak souls to discharge their duties with fervor.  The apprehension of the pains to be endured, in living till death with so much exactness, and in continually resisting self-love, is one of the causes which make many lose courage in the way of God.  The best means of conquering this temptation is to imagine each morning that you have but one day to live.  Whoever represents to himself that only one day of life remains, will certainly perform all the actions of that day with great perfection.  This means is very profitable for weak souls, but strong and perfect Christians do not require to conceal from themselves the labors necessary for the attainment of sanctity; they rejoice in suffering, and pant for opportunities of pleasing God.

Fifth, and finally, to those beginning to walk in the way of perfection it will be very useful to consider that what is in itself difficult and painful will by habit soon become easy and agreeableI will, says the Holy Ghost, lead thee by the paths of equity; which, when thou shalt have entered, shall not be straightened; and when thou runnest, thou shalt not meet a stumbling block (Prov iv:11-12).  I will, says the Lord, first conduct  you into the narrow paths of virtue; but you shall soon walk through a broad and pleasing way, and there you shall run without difficulties or obstacles. “At first,” says St. Bernard, writing to Pope Eugenius, “some duty will seem intolerable; if you accustom yourself to it, in process of time it will not appear so difficult; afterwards you shall not feel it; and in the end you will delight in it.” Behold with your eyes, says Ecclesiasticus, how I have labored a little, and have found much rest to myself (Eccl li:35).

———-End Quote———–

Do you find it difficult to present to yourself each day or night as your last? This is something I – I’m not sure struggle with is the right phrase – I have not developed the habit of or accustomed myself to.   It seems something very much worth trying, for both embracing some of my more prosaic duties and overcoming some attachments I have so far been unable to separate myself from.  If you have experience with these methods, please share, or if you try them, let me know how they work out.

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Comments

1. Baseballmomof8 - July 19, 2017

Not quite the same, but I do, at times, picture myself in a casket…. very sobering.

Tim - July 20, 2017

It awaits us all.

2. SoccerMom - July 20, 2017

Thanks for posting.


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