The Little Book of the Most Holy Child Jesus/A Few Hints for Daily Conduct
A FEW HINTS FOR DAILY CONDUCT.
In your Catechism of Christian Doctrine you will find a Rule of Life, forming the subject of the last two chapters. Follow that rule, and all will be well with you in this world and in the world to come.
The Catechism is a little book, and is so constantly used in school that perhaps you do not think so highly of it as you ought. But be sure of this: it contains the very pith and essence of the knowledge of God and of your duty to Him and your neighbour. The more you grow in this knowledge the more you will value that little book. Never be satisfied until you know it all by heart and understand it well.
Some give up going to Sunday Catechism when they grow tall, as if that had anything to do with it. They are ashamed to go because little children have to go too. This is very pitiful. Do not yield to such a temptation. The devil is afraid you should learn too much about God and the things of God.
You begin your day with the sign of the Cross, and by offering your heart and soul to God. You end it with your evening exercise, and you give your last thoughts to your crucified Saviour.
If you live each day as if it were the last it will not matter when the last comes, as you will be found watching—one of God's 'faithful servants.'
Above all things you must avoid mortal sin. Compared with it all other evil is no evil at all. To lose your hearing, your sight, your life even, is nothing beside the loss of God; and mortal sin loses the friendship of God, shuts the gate of Heaven, and opens hell to you.
If you have never committed a mortal sin, happy are you. Go on from good to better. Keep your first innocence. Once lost, neither gold, nor tears, nor your blood can buy it back again. By God's grace you have kept it, and through His grace alone can you keep it for the time to come. Do not think it will ever be safe for one moment without the grace of God, nor without great care on your own part.
If at any time you should have the unhappiness to fall into grievous sin, do not delay; go the very first chance you have to Confession. Make a good Act of Contrition, and the Blood of Jesus will cleanse you from your sin, and give you fresh strength and courage.
It often happens that children who would be deeply grieved and much horrified at great sins, and try to keep themselves from the occasions of mortal sin, are very heedless about venial sins, and are blind to ordinary failings, which they fancy are of small account.
Venial sins are on the way to mortal sins, and if deliberately indulged in and not repented of, quickly prepare the soul for mortal sins, and make it apt to commit them.
OBEDIENCE AND RESPECT.
Little acts of disobedience, unreadiness to obey, stopping to reason or argue or to propose something else, are all against the spirit of the fourth commandment; and although you may not think much of these things at first, they all go to form a habit of disobedience—and what habit can be worse?
The duty of honouring parents Almighty God has put before all other duties, next to those which refer directly to Himself. Even before the commandment not to kill comes that to honour father and mother.
And it is accompanied by a promise of good; whereas disobedience to parents is so hateful to God, that under the Old Law, which was the shadow of the Catholic Faith, disobedient children were put to death. So also was he that cursed or struck father or mother; and the wise King Solomon, inspired by the Holy Ghost, has said: 'The eye that mocketh at his father and that despiseth the labour of his mother in bearing him, let the ravens of the brook peck it out and the young eagles devour it' (Prov. xxx. 17).
Be obedient also to your other lawful superiors. Obey them in all that is not sin.
Be respectful to them at all times; be respectful also to the aged; do your best to aid and comfort the infirm and helpless. It is a hateful thing to he disrespectful to the old and gray-headed. 'Rise up,' it is written in the Law, 'before the hoary head, and honour the person of the aged man, and fear the Lord thy God.'
Beware of idleness in school. I cannot say how much idleness it would take to render you guilty of the deadly sin of sloth, but you may be sure that all wilful waste of time is on the way to it.
It is but little thought of by most children, but when it is given way to and made a habit of it is a manifold wrong. It is a wrong to those who teach you, for you sorely try their patience; you remain a dunce and fail to do them justice. It is a wrong to your parents, who when they send you to school can but expect a due return. It is a still greater wrong to yourself. You neglect the improvement of your mind, which is a garden given you to cultivate, and which is capable of bringing forth beautiful flowers and fruits, virtues and accomplishments, for the glory of God and the benefit of your neighbour.
The more knowledge you acquire, if it is for those ends, the more good you can do and the more good you can gain. It is true that the ignorant and unlettered have often pleased God and become great Saints, but then it was not through their own act that they were ignorant of such knowledge as you have the chance of gaining.
Listless idleness becomes a wretched habit in those who give way to it. It grows upon them, makes them a burden to others and a burden to themselves, and takes away that noble spirit of independence which in its proper bounds is one of the greatest charms of character. It hardens the heart or fills it with too-late regrets for opportunities wasted and for ever lost.
Whatever you do, put your heart into it. If it is not worth putting your heart into, do not do it at all A great Saint, who did wonderful things for God, and who, like all other Saints, was never idle, used to say, 'Age quod agis.' Do what you do. That is, do it thoroughly—do not half do it. If it is worth doing, don't slur it over; it is for God. Pray when you pray, work when you work, play with a zest when you play, and you will be happier in all.
Never tell lies, thinking that they are only little ones. It is always a great matter to trifle with the truth.
If you have done anything which you think will bring you into trouble, do not excuse yourself by an untruth. If you have a true excuse to give, give it. It is your due. If you have no excuse, let it alone; bravely bear the blame and the punishment, if it comes, and you will have nothing upon your conscience. Nothing can need a lie. It will require courage to tell the truth sometimes; but then I do not know how you are to get to Heaven without being brave. When another person has a right to the truth, and the truth is required of you, tell it, come what may, and leave the rest to God.
All that is noble in our nature shrinks from the coward. Dare to be true. Dare to defend the truth, and God, who is truth, will not forget you. Dare to take the part of the innocent and oppressed, the weak and helpless, when they are wronged. Be ashamed to side with the strong and powerful when they are unkind and oppressive.
Never shrink from danger when it is not of your own seeking, and when it is your duty to incur it for God's sake or the sake of others.
Dare to take the blame upon yourself also when the blame belongs to you. Never be so mean as to shift it off upon another if it is yours.
One thing harder still in the matter of courage. Do not fear to be laughed at. I do not ask you to like it, but it does not matter being laughed at if you are in the right. The laughter soon passes away, but the right remains. By giving in just because you are laughed at, you make yourself quite as bad, most likely worse, and certainly more foolish, than those who have jeered at you.
Countless souls have been lost because they dreaded the laughter of fools, which so soon passed away. What would they not give now for their chance over again, laughter and all? But they cannot have it.
CONFESS THE FAITH.
Dare to confess your Faith, if called upon, wherever you are; or rather, do not dare to deny it in word or deed. To deny the Faith is to deny God.
If you live in a Protestant land, you may find many to sneer at you and your Faith, but that does not matter. They who do this do it from ignorance; they know not what they do. The Faith is dearer to you than life, and so it would be to them if they had it. Perhaps, if the good God had given them the Faith, they would have been much better than you are. Do not consider yourself superior to them or better than they. It is a terrible misfortune to be brought up in heresy, without a knowledge of the true Faith.
Do not be greedy or selfish. Few things are more hateful than to see a person who only thinks of himself, his own comfort, his own enjoyment. Such a disposition, given way to, will lead you into many meannesses and sins. Give up gladly your own comfort and convenience for the sake of others. It will make you happier in this life, and it is a part of the preparation for a happy life in the world to come.
You cannot imagine the Holy Child Jesus selfish or greedy, nor His dear Mother, when a child, regardless of the feelings of others.
Do not spend all your pocket-money, however little it may be, upon yourself, or even upon your companions. As a rule, save some for the offertory in church, or for some pious object, or for the poor; and you will be lending to God, who will repay you in a better way than you can think.
OUR BLESSED LADY.
As a safeguard against all kinds of sin I can tell you of no practice so helpful as a steady and loving devotion to our Blessed Lady. She is given to you as a Mother: treat her as one, and both she herself and her dear Son, your Saviour, will be well pleased.
Always wear her scapular and one of her medals. Often say her Rosary, or a part of it. The more you use the Rosary the more you will get to love that devotion, and the more you will learn from it. It is a summary of the whole Gospel, from the announcement of the coming of a Saviour to the crowning of one of the redeemed in Heaven—even Mary herself, the most excellently redeemed, conceived without sin, the Virgin Mother, the chosen means by which He came to be the Saviour of the world.
Let devotion to him and a loving trust in him be a part of your imitation of the Holy Child Jesus. He is the Foster-father of our Blessed Saviour, and therefore our Foster-father, the Patron of the universal Church.
Remember also your Guardian-angel, who is ever with you, and sees all your actions and you know not how much of your thoughts.
Whilst he looks upon the Face of God in Heaven, he can always hear you, always cares for you. Do not treat him coldly, a if you did not believe that you had such a glorious companion and friend.
Most Holy Child Jesus, save Thy children.
ROBSON AND SONS, PRINTERS, PANCRAS ROAD, N.W