The Two Pillars of Social Life
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Temperance and Work 1904
The world is falling apart because men have destroyed two pillars of social life. In education and in life they have placed the emphasis predominantly upon intellectual instruction and on science letting go of “work and temperance”. Instead, our Creator, who knows what we need, better than we ourselves know, recommends, after having suffered the loss of bread and salvation, that we work with the sweat of our brow and that we be temperant. He expressly says to our first parents in Paradise “By the sweat of your brow shall you get bread to eat, until you return to the ground, from which you were taken.” (Gen,3, 19) Jesus Christ in his Gospel adds: “If a man wishes to come after me, he must deny his very self, take up his cross and begin to follow in my footsteps” (Mt 16, 24) . This means: That not only I, your Saviour, have to work hard and suffer, but also all of you, my disciples, if you want to be with me in paradise, have to suffer and work, submitting your intellect, will and works to the prescriptions of the Commandments of God. You must commit your body with all its senses and inclinations to the continual service of the Divine, fighting and working, day and night, for his glory during your whole life until death. “The flesh lusts against the spirit and the spirit against the flesh.” (Gal. 5:17) Work and temperance are not acquired easily. In order to avoid being overcome in battle we must rigorously control our body and all its natural inclinations, like a coachman holds on tightly to an untamed horse so that they both do not end up on the brink.
The Son of God, in human flesh walks before us lighting our path with his example, in order to lighten the burden which the Creator placed upon us and to exhort us to the voluntary renunciation of our very selves. Jesus worked willingly and by the sweat of his brow in St Joseph’s shop, he endured the sufferings and the privations of daily life, finally he died on the cross suffering horrible pain. He did not spare himself he did not give in to anything in order to teach us how we are to live in every situation. His Mother, followed him closely, the sorrowful Mother who worked and suffered during her whole life. Behind her come the thousands of saints who “crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Gal:5:24).
Instead today, throughout the whole world and unfortunately among Christian nations, this command seems to resound: Let us seek to enjoy life to the fullest on this earth and to work as little as possible. Money, power, rest, diversion, pleasures and honours today constitute the ideal of all of humanity, while work by the sweat of the brow and Christian temperance are totally disvalued. Only those who are forced to do so work and suffer. Only very few work freely and are temperant in the spirit of Jesus Christ. The majority of today s people are not aware that work and Christian temperance obtain a hundredfold already on this earth. Abandonment of temperance, instead, brings about not only the risk of the eternal punishment of hell but also earthly disasters.
The effeminate world refuses to accept the bitter means of Christian mortification to heal the illnesses of the spirit. It is precisely mortification which heals the “things of the earth” (Phil.3, 19) and the inclinations which wound man’s soul and lead to perdition. By means of mortification we pay, already on this earth, the temporal punishments which we have deserved because of our sins. Mortification raises our soul to heavenly realities and enables it to be united to God. Only those who are mortified have the gift of prayer which is indispensable for salvation. Christian mortification helps us to acquire, already on this earth, interior peace and the joy of the Spirit. Therefore, mortification, which consists of work and Christian temperance, constitutes the indispensable condition for, and is the source of spiritual wealth and of human happiness, in this present life and in the future.