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Christian Youth Must be God-Fearing and Dutiful

From True Men as We Need Them, Fr. Bernard O’Reilly, 1890’s

Whatever else our young men may be, when formed at home by such parents as we are about to describe, and trained in Christian schools by God-fearing and accomplished masters, they will be at least conscientious and God-fearing themselves.

This is the first and greatest need of our age.

They will be also dutiful and high-minded, for the young man whose soul from childhood has been filled with that lofty sense of duty, as of a sacred, indispensable, and ennobling obligation due to the Most High God, will be disposed to discharge every office entrusted to him, as if he were immediately accountable to the Divine Majesty.

Hence everything shall be done perfectly, because done for the sake of Him who is the most loving of Fathers, and the most generous of benefactors.

High-minded must ever be the men who are penetrated with duty, and act upon such lofty motives. He who beholds the Infinitely Great and Holy in every person to whom he is bound to yield lawful obedience, will not feel himself degraded in being subordinate to those who may be his own inferiors in birth, in education, and refinement.

He will not fulfill his duty conscientiously, or go even beyond his duty in his endeavor to do well, because he is ambitious to obtain praise, or fearful of incurring blame. He is only supremely desirous of pleasing One who values the loving wish much more even than the perfect performance.

And this high-mindedness will be thus a safeguard against that baneful and tyrannical human respect, which is so apt to make old people as well as young omit the good they ought to do, and do the evil their conscience condemns, lest they should draw on themselves the displeasure, the ridicule, or the vain judgments of bad men.

The dutiful and the high-minded will ever be the faithful, the trustworthy, true to the death, because true to God and to themselves.

Pressing and Present Need of the High-Minded and Dutiful

Surely there is great need of such in our day. And because they are thus dutiful and true—they will be diligent, laborious, persevering, self-denying, and self-reliant, because placing their main dependence on the All-Mighty and putting forth to please Him, in their every work and endeavor, their whole strength and industry.

Such men are—everything taken into account—the best calculated to succeed. And such men—be they born ever so lowly—are God’s true gentlemen—the men whom all are forced to respect—because they are incapable of meanness, fraud, or untruthfulness.

These are a few only of the features of the True Man so needed in all countries and at all periods of the world’s history, but especially needed at a time when noble living will avail infinitely more to save religion and society than eloquent discoursing or the most learned and beautiful writing.

Yes, the road of true manliness and unblemished honor which we are to travel over together, leads up by steep and toilsome paths to the only reward worthy of gentle souls.

Like the maiden-knight of the ideal Christian chivalry, if we would keep our souls pure, and win the ecstatic joy of coming to close communion with the veiled Majesty of our Father, we must be ready to do and bear what the crowd recoil from.

“I leave the plain, I climb the height;

No branchy thicket shelter yields;

But blessed forms in whistling storms

Fly o’er waste fens and windy fields.

A maiden-knight—to me is given

Such hope, I know not fear;

I yearn to breathe the airs of heaven

That often meet me here.

I muse on joy that will not cease,

Pure spaces clothed in living beams,

Pure lilies of eternal peace,

Whose odors haunt my dreams;

And, stricken by an angel’s hand,

This mortal armor that I wear,

This weight and size, this heart and eyes,

Are touched, are turned to finest air.”  —Tennyson, Sir Galahad

C.S. Lewis

The Devil exults most when he can steal a man’s joy of spirit from him. He carries a powder with him to throw into any smallest possible chinks of our conscience, to soil the spotlessness of our mind and the purity of our life. But when spiritual joy fills our hearts, the Serpent pours out his deadly poison in vain. – St. Francis of Assisi

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