If we Christians really lived in accordance with our faith, the greatest revolution of all times would take place. The effectiveness of our co-redemption depends on each one of us! —You should meditate on this.

You will feel completely responsible when you realise that, before God, you have only duties. He already sees to it that you are granted rights!

May you acquire the custom of concerning yourself every day about others, and give yourself to the task so much that you forget you even exist!

Here is a thought to help you in difficult moments. “The more my faithfulness increases, the better will I be able to contribute to the growth of others in that virtue”. —How good it is to feel supported by each other.

Don’t come to me with “theories”. It is our lives that have to convert those high ideals each day into ordinary, heroic, fruitful reality.

We should indeed respect things that are old, and be grateful for them. Learn from them by all means, and bear in mind those past experiences, too. But let us not exaggerate; everything has its own time and place. Do we now dress in doublet and hose or wear powdered wigs on our heads?

Don’t get annoyed. Irresponsible behaviour often denotes poor formation or a lack of intelligence, rather than want of good spirit.

Teachers and directors should be expected to fill in those gaps with the responsible fulfilment of their duties.

—You should examine yourself… if you are in such a position.

You run the great risk of being satisfied with living, or thinking that you have to live, “like a good boy”, who stays in a cosy and neat house, with no problems, and knowing only happiness.

That is a caricature of the home in Nazareth. Because Christ brought happiness and order, he went out to spread those treasures among men and women of all times.

I think it is very natural for you to want the whole world to know Christ. But start with the responsibility of saving the souls of those who live with you and sanctifying each one of your fellow workers or fellow students. That is the principal mission that the Lord has entrusted to you.

You should behave as if it all depended on you: whether the atmosphere in your place of work is to be one of hard work, cheerfulness, presence of God and supernatural outlook.

—Why are you so apathetic? If you come across a group at work who are a bit difficult, you lose interest in them. Perhaps they have become difficult because you have neglected them. Yet you throw in the towel and think of them as a dead weight which holds back your apostolic ideals because they do not understand you…

—You may love and serve them with your prayer and mortification, but how do you expect them to listen to you if you never speak to them…?

—You will have many surprises the day you decide to talk to them one by one. What is more, if you do not change, they will one day be able to point a finger at you and say quite rightly: Hominem non habeo — I have no one to help me!

Understand that holy things, when they are looked at and done every day in a holy manner, do not become “everyday” things. Everything Jesus Christ did on this earth was human — and divine!

You say you cannot be happy to live like everyone else, with the faith of the crowd. —Indeed, you have to have a personal faith joined to a sense of personal responsibility.

The Most Holy Trinity grants you grace and expects you to make use of it responsibly. Given such an endowment, there is no place for your adopting easy, slow, lazy attitudes… because, apart from everything else, souls await you.

You have a big problem; but if such things are approached properly, that is to say, with calm and responsible supernatural vision, the solution is always to be found.

When they take their little children in their arms, mothers —good mothers— make sure they do not have any pins in their clothes which could hurt them. When we deal with souls, we should have the same gentleness, together with all the determination required.

Custos, quid de nocte? — Watchman, how goes the night?

May you acquire the habit of having a day on guard once a week, during which to increase your self-giving and loving vigilance over details, and to pray and mortify yourself a little more.

Realise that the Holy Church is like a great army in battle array. And you, within that army, are defending one “front” on which there are attacks, engagements with the enemy and counter-attacks. Do you see what I mean?

This readiness to grow closer to God will lead you to turn your days, one after the other, into days on guard.

As the reverse side of a “lost” vocation, or of a negative response to one of those constant calls of grace, we have to see God’s will allowing it to happen. —True, but if we are sincere, we know well enough that this does not mean the excuse or mitigation of whatever happened. Because, looking at the obverse side, we can see a personal failure to fulfil the divine Will, which has sought us for himself and found no response.

If you really love your own country, and I am sure you do, you would not hesitate to enlist as a volunteer to defend it from imminent danger. As I wrote to you before, everyone can be useful in an emergency: men and women; the old, the middle-aged, the young and even adolescents. Only invalids and children are left out.

Every day there is a call, not just for volunteers to enlist — that is very little — but for a general mobilisation of souls to defend Christ’s Kingdom. And the King himself, Jesus, has called you expressly by your name. He asks you to fight in God’s battles, and to put at his service the noblest powers of your soul: your heart, your will, your understanding, all your being.

—Listen to me: the flesh, with your clean life and especially with the protection of the Virgin Mary, is no problem. Are you going to be such a coward as to try to get out of being enlisted with the excuse that your heart or will or intellect are weak? Are you going to pretend to claim some grounds for remaining in the ancillary services?

—The Lord wants to make you an instrument for the front line —you are one already— and if you turn your back you deserve only pity, as a traitor.

If time were mere gold… you could perhaps afford to squander it.

—But time is life, and you don’t know how much you have left.

The Lord converted Peter, who had denied him three times, without even a reproach, with a look full of Love.

—Jesus looks at us with those same eyes, after we have fallen. May we also be able to say to him, as Peter did: “Lord, you know all things, you know that I love you”, and amend our lives.

They argue that they act gently and with understanding, in the name of charity, towards the oppressors.

—I pray to God that this gentleness and understanding of theirs may not be a camouflage for human respect and for seeking their own comfort, while they allow evil to be committed. For if that were so, this gentleness and understanding would merely be complicity in the offence against God.

The conversion of a soul cannot be made easy at the risk of many others possibly falling away.

If someone thought that wolves could be reared among sheep… imagine what chance his sheep would have.

Mediocre men, mediocre in mind and in Christian spirit, surround themselves by foolish people when they are in power. They are falsely persuaded by their vanity that in this way they will never lose control.

Sensible men, however, surround themselves with learned people who live a clean life as well as possessing knowledge, and become, through their help, men who can really govern. They are not in this matter deceived by their humility, for in making others great they themselves are made great.

There is no prudence in appointing untried men to important posts of direction just to see how it works out. —It would be like risking the common good on a lottery.

You are in a position of authority and you go by what people say? You are a doddering old man! —First of all you should worry about what God will say; then, very much in the second place, and sometimes not at all, you may consider what others might think. “Whoever acknowledges me before men”, says the Lord, “I too will acknowledge him before my Father who is in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father who is in heaven.”

If you occupy a position of responsibility you should remember as you do your job that personal achievement perishes with the person who made himself indispensable.

A fundamental rule for good management is to give responsibility to others without this becoming for you a way of seeking anonymity or comfort. I repeat, delegate responsibility and ask each person to give an account of how his job is going, so that you can “render an account” to God; and to souls, if necessary.

When you are dealing with problems, try not to exaggerate justice to the point of forgetting charity.

The strength of a chain is the strength of its weakest link.

Never say of anybody under you: he is no good.

—It is you who are no good, for you cannot find a place where he will be of use.

Reject any ambition for honours. Think instead about your duties, how to do them well and the instruments you need to accomplish them. —In this way, you will not hanker for position, and if one comes you will see it just as it is: a burden to bear in the service of souls.

In the hour of rejection at the Cross, the Virgin Mary is there by her Son, willing to go through the same fate. —Let us lose our fear of behaving like responsible Christians when the environment in which we move is not easy. She will help us.

References to Holy Scripture
References to Holy Scripture
References to Holy Scripture
References to Holy Scripture
References to Holy Scripture
This chapter in another language