Our True Man Should Be a Man of Great Character



from True Men as We Need Them by Father Bernard O’Reilly, 1878

It may suffice to point out here the importance of character in itself and apart from conduct, and the vital necessity for parents of cultivating, developing, and molding strongly the character of their children from the very dawn of reason.

By character here we mean the firm habitual disposition to truthfulness, honor, integrity, generosity, and resolute energy of purpose, without which no man ever was or ever can be a true man.

These qualities are formed in the child by the teaching and still more by the example of his parents. Examples may best illustrate and impress our meaning on the willing mind.

Of a man who died in 1817, at the age of thirty-eight, and whose memory must ever be dear to Irish Catholics—Francis Horner—it was said by a contemporary that the Ten Commandments were stamped upon his countenance.

“The valuable and peculiar light”—adds another of his country-men—“in which his history is calculated to inspire every right-minded youth, is this. He died…possessed of greater public influence than any other man; and admired, beloved, trusted by all, except the heartless or the base.

No greater homage was ever paid in Parliament to any deceased member. Now let every young man ask, how was this attained. By rank? He was the son of an Edinburgh merchant. By wealth? Neither he, nor any of his relations, ever had a superfluous sixpence…By talents ? His were not splendid, and he had no genius.

Cautious and slow, his only ambition was to be right…By what then was it? Merely by sense, industry, good principles, and a good heart, qualities which no well-constituted mind need ever despair of attaining.

It was the force of his character that raised him; and this character not impressed upon him by nature, but formed out of no peculiarly fine elements by himself.” (Lord Cockburn)

The same author  goes on to say: “Truthfulness, integrity, and goodness—qualities that hang not on any man’s breath—form the essence of manly character, or, as one of our old writers has it, that inbred loyalty unto Virtue which can serve her without a livery. He is strong to do good, strong to resist evil, and strong to bear up under difficulty and misfortune.”

“It was a first command and counsel of my earliest youth,” says Lord Erskine, “always to do what my conscience told me to be a duty, and to leave the consequence to God. I shall carry with me the memory, and I trust the practice, of this parental lesson to the grave.

I have hitherto followed it, and I have no reason to complain that my obedience to it has been a temporal sacrifice. I have found it, on the contrary, the road to prosperity and wealth; and I shall point out the same road to my children for their pursuit.”

These examples from a Protestant source we have purposely placed first in order, that our Catholic readers may learn how carefully Providence preserves even in the lands which reject the authority of His Church, the precious home-virtues without which there can be neither true private worth nor lasting public prosperity.

More than that, we are not to forget that civilized pagan nations, living under the Law of Nature, have always shown the same appreciation of noble manly character.

All this should only shame Catholics, who boast the possession of the fullness of Revealed Truth, into the formation in their children and in themselves, of such perfect manly characters, as befit those who are, by their birthright, God’s adopted children here below.






“Although good homemaking is an admirable virtue, it can be overdone. Create a home, not a showplace. A man appreciates efforts for his sake, but doesn’t want homemaking to take priority over him, or things he considers more important. The castle is not more important than the king that dwells therein.” – Helen Andelin


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