This is a thought-provoking article written by Fr. Kinsella in the 1950’s.
A girl’s parish church affords another opportunity for personality growth. Frequently I have heard girls say that they do not attend the young people’s club of their church. They went to it a few times, but did not “get anything out of” the club.
How often I have heard that criticism. I always wonder what they expected to “get out of” the sodality or young people’s group. Was the young assistant to put on a three ring circus for their entertainment, while they sat like a cabbage in a movie house?
Was a prodigy similar to Fr. Malachy’s miracle to be brought off? Or did they even expect a more stupendous work: the pastor himself spinning through the hall like a whirling dervish spraying out twenty dollar gold coins? Hardly. Who has seen gold coins for ever so long?
These girls, disappointed in the parish group of young people, are always looking for what they can get out of things. It never enters their imagination that they might contribute to things.
Obviously, girls with this attitude of sitting back and waiting for life to come to them will go away empty handed from any project. If they would enter the parish group with the idea of giving themselves to its success, in the long run they would be the ones to gain.
Self-seekers always end up holding the bag–an empty one. Those who give of themselves carry off the prizes.
One of these rewards is growth in personality. Girls who give their time, energy, and imagination to the parish group cannot fail to promote their personality, albeit unconsciously.
A stranger in a big city gets lost in some side street. He asks directions to his hotel. Well, your hotel is down this street, then to the left two blocks then to the right a block. No, that’s a dead end street. It runs into the railroad yards.
Let’s try it this way. Take this street we are on till you come to the stop sign. Then turn left for three blocks. Then take a right turn till you hit that side street running diagonally. No, by golly, that takes you to the bank of the river. Say, stranger, I don’t think that you can get to your hotel from here!
This story often comes to my mind when I am dealing with a marriage all washed up because the wife was a total loss in personality. Where do they go from here? How are they going to get back to a happy marriage from here? Marriage is a contract, in which the parties give as well as receive. This poor creature seems to have nothing to give.
“He married me. We have children. It’s his moral obligation to stay with me as my husband.”
Yes–it is his duty, but not many marriages endure on moral obligations. Husband and wife came together because they were attracted to each other and learned to love each other. This love includes a physical, intellectual, and spiritual attraction.
The moral obligation to which our imaginary wife is appealing will steady a marriage and carry it through a crisis here and there: but happy, successful marriages are not built on moral obligations.
Too many failures have appealed to moral obligations but have done little to merit a contented and loving husband.
Many of these appeals to the moral law do not have the ring of sincerity, because the authors of them paid little or no attention to the moral law before the estrangement.
For years they threw stones at the policeman. Now they are screaming for his help. Besides, the policeman is no solution anyway. Their clamor for him is totally in vain.
Anybody can make serious mistakes. The saints did. The ideal wife with personality may make a serious mistake and thereby bring about a temporary alienation of her husband.
If she possesses a well-developed personality, the conflict generally will be resolved to mutual satisfaction.
Of course, I am supposing that the husband is not a basket case and that he has the capacity of forgiveness and will say the Our Father from time to time with realization of what he is saying.
Personality development is a most interesting process which can go on till the grave. We are born with certain temperaments. We have no control over whether we are to live with a choleric or melancholic temperament, for example.
Seldom are these temperaments ever changed. Yet, they may be modified. We may hold in check and even subdue the bad aspects of our particular temperament. Likewise, the good features may be developed and encouraged in our daily lives.
In some quarters there is the extreme opinion that we are pretty much the victims of our temperament and the first few years of our lives. By the time we are six or seven it is fairly well determined what sort of lives we shall live.
At this early age, so we are told, it has already been determined whether we shall be a shining light or a public nuisance. The only contingency is whether the stage for us will turn out to be Paducah or Keokuk.
The only trouble with this theory is that it runs head on into the teachings of Christ, nineteen centuries of Christian living, and our own personal experiences. And that is some collision.
Unless we can develop and improve our characters and personalities, unless, with God’s help, we are the master of our destiny, Christ should never have given the sermon on the Mount.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.” It seems to be natural for little children to be selfish and greedy–anything but poor in spirit. Poverty of spirit must be acquired with effort.
St. Francis Xavier’s youth had little in it to distinguish him from others. Yet he learned to live the beatitude of poverty of spirit to the extent of giving himself into slavery, that he might reach the
China coast and Christianize the natives.
St. Francis changed his whole way of life, his whole personality because he changed his whole attitude of life and program of activity.
Teachers certainly have been struck by evidences of personality growth and improvement. Many a little first year high school bunny wakes up and becomes a charming and personable lady ten years later.
When a girl is born into this life, her personality and character might be likened to a solid piece of gold of goblet shape and size.
Thus, as a baby, the solid goblet cannot hold a single drop of the joy of living.
Should the baby grow into childhood and womanhood with only physical development, this abnormality would eliminate the poor creature from normal participation in life.
Without growth in intelligence and personality and character she would have to be cared for as a little baby all the days of her life. Her golden goblet remains solid and untouched as it was at birth. However, physical, mental and spiritual development usually goes on apace.
As the child begins to contribute consciously to the happiness of her parents by being affectionate and helpful, she begins to grind out her goblet.
As she learns of God and her own purpose in existing, as she grows in the virtues and subdues the selfish instincts of childhood, real progress is apparent in the goblet.
It now approaches the appearance of a hollow cup. During adolescence and full-blown womanhood the capacity of the goblet increases in direct relation to the development of her personality.
Because she has grown in personality, her capacity for living has increased. Her golden goblet has become so delicate that it is almost translucent.
Her cup is full to overflowing with the joy of life. And her greatest happiness comes from being able to share her cup of happiness with the man she loves, the husband of the desired wife.
O Mary, you who are the holiest of all creatures, make me holy. You lack neither love nor power; you can and you will obtain everything for me. Only my failure to have recourse to you and my want of confidence in your aid can prevent me from receiving your favors” (St. Alphonsus).
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