28 January 2011


by  D. Q. McInerny, Ph.D.

Courage, or fortitude, is one of that very special group of four virtues known as the cardinal virtues, the other three being prudence, justice, and temperance. They are called “cardinal” because of the foundational status they have with respect to all the other virtues. All the other virtues directly depend on them, and indeed are but more specialized exemplifications of one or another of them. The particular role played by the virtue of courage in the moral life, a very important one to be sure, is to enable us successfully to cope with the emotion of fear.

That fear can be a very powerful emotion goes without saying. So long as it is kept under the control of reason, it offers no problems; in fact, if properly controlled, it can actually be of positive benefit to us. Fear guided by reason is a fear that is directed toward something which is fully deserving of being feared. It is only when fear gains the ascendency in our lives, when fear itself, rather than reason, becomes the controlling factor, that we find ourselves in a very problematic state of affairs.

Stoning of St. Stephen

One of the direct and most troublesome effects of a fear which is in charge of our lives is that it inhibits, or even cancels completely, right action. Because of fear, we either hesitate to do, do half-heartedly, or simply fail to do, what it is our duty to do. We effectively abdicate our responsibility as moral agents. We succumb to moral cowardice. Now, none of us likes to be thought of as cowardly, and least of all do we want to think of ourselves as such, so what happens when fear becomes the controlling factor in our lives is that we become masters of rationalization. We manage to convince ourselves that what is clearly our duty is not really all that important; we anesthetize our sense of responsibility toward the tasks which go hand in hand with our state of life. Then the psychological games we play with ourselves become yet more complicated, for in order not to admit to ourselves how we are trafficking in rationalization, we distract ourselves, and attempt to distract others as well, by engaging in all sorts of busy-work which is in fact inconsequential, for it is activity which only serves as an escapist substitute for the activity we should be engaging in.

13 January 2011

"Thoughts on Prayer" - by Fulton Sheen

-  We do not pray in order that we may change God’s Will; we pray rather to change our own.

-  We do not pray that we may have good things; we pray rather that we may be good.

The perfect prayer is not one in which we tell God what we wish from Him, but rather one in which we ask God what He wishes from us.

Do not pray only in an emergency. The plea of strangers is never as effective as the plea of friends. Do not think of God only in times of distress or danger. Heaven is not a firehouse, and God does not put out all the fires.

Do not make all your prayers, prayers of petition. Where there is love we seek rather to give than receive. Such is the test of a real love of God.

When God does answer your prayers of petition, do you ever thank Him for His gift? You cannot always depend on prayers to be answered the way you want them answered, but you can always depend on God.

God, the loving Father, often denies us those things which in the end would prove harmful to us. Every boy wants a revolver at age four, and no father yet has granted that request. Why should we think God is less wise? Someday we will thank God not only for what He gave us, but also for that which He refused.

We should never pray for anything without at the same time submitting to God’s Will. Since God is good, petition is inseparable from resignation. When our will is one with God’s Will, then nothing can happen to us except what God wills; thus we will never be disappointed.

God will not supply every want; but He will supply every need. The trouble is that we want what we do not need.

Prayer is not the breaking down of the reluctance of God; it is rather the opening of the door. “Behold, I stand at the door and knock.” The latch is on our side and not his. Prayer opens that door.

-  The perfect prayer is one in which we seek to identify our will with God’s will.

When you pray, do not do all the talking! Listen! Speak, Lord, for thy servant is listening. If we keep pounding away with our hammers, how can the Divine Architect tell us how we ought to build?

If you are in the state of grace, God dwells in your heart. Hence, do not think of God being “way up there”; think of Him being on the inside. Because our body is a temple, we should try to keep God dwelling therein. This is the basic reason for purity.

-  It is really not so important what we say to God as it is what He says to us.

-  Prayer is not asking God to put Himself at our disposal.