This is a little review and book report of Self Knowledge and Self-Discipline by Father Basil W. Maturin. The book was written in 1909 and can be obtained free here. Don’t buy this kindle version. It is not well formatted.
The book is written in a lofty style but I did not find it too opaque. It did take me a lot longer to read than it would have taken me to read a modern book of the same length. Some of the writing could be a bit to flowery for my tastes. Overall, I enjoyed the book and picked up a few pointers. Now just got to put them in practice.
I struggle with self-discipline so I was hoping to pick up a few pointers. I took some notes of what I thought were Fr. Maturin’s most salient points.
- We are put here upon earth, so to speak, to be questioned. And the answer that God listens for, is not the answer of the lips but of action. This is the true meaning of temptation. Each temptation is a question put to the soul. “What kind of a being are you, do you love God, or the following of your own inclinations?”
- That habit can only be conquered by habit. That he must form good habits to conquer bad, habits of resistance to overcome cowardly habits of surrender.
- The Law of habit can only be conquered by the Law of perseverance.
- No barrier however strong will stop the river flowing, you must divert its course into another channel. An idle man will not overcome his sloth by an occasional day of fussy activity, nor a miser his meanness by random acts of generosity, no more than a belated summer s day in November will stop the approach of winter.
- If it is difficult to overcome bad habits, it is difficult to overcome good habits.
- The result of a great battle does not depend upon the moment’s struggle, but upon the discipline and training of the troops in the past.
- It is not the sufferings or the consolations of life that directly affect character, but it is the thoughts which men call around them at such times.
- A kindly person is one whose thoughts are kindly, a bitter person one whose thoughts are bitter.
- A man who fights against the first approach of every evil thought is not likely to yield to sin in the hour of temptation, but one who has allowed his mind to become habituated to such thoughts will find in the hour of assault that the citadel of his soul is betrayed.
- It is hard to stop thinking bad thoughts so fill your head with good thoughts.
- The positive rather than the negative way. Let not your mind be overcome with evil, ” but overcome evil by good “. The emptying the mind of evil is not the first step towards filling it with good. It is not a step in that direction at all. If you succeeded in emptying your mind of every undesirable thought, what then ? You cannot empty it and then begin to fill it with better thoughts. No, you must empty it of evil by filling it with good.
- It is possible to use both memory and imagination as instruments of self-indulgence, as an end in them selves, and not as means to help the soul onward.
- There are those who find in the memory no stimulant to action, no lesson or warning for the present, but a chamber of pale dreams and ghostly forms where they spend listless hours of sadness or regret, and from which they come forth unmanned and spent and incapable of action. They live in the past, not in the present or future. They live in it, not to learn any lessons but to indulge themselves, breathing in those faded perfumes which like narcotics deaden and stupefy the powers, unfitting them for the work of life. Who that has passed middle life does not know the danger of turning the chamber of memory into a place of shadowy dreams and vain regrets and weary longings ?
- (paraphrase) Don’t use your imagination to escape from reality. Be self-aware of your thoughts.