True Knowledge…


From GUIDE for CATHOLIC YOUNG WOMEN by Rev. George Deshon, 1863

A good girl has no need to be sad because of her want of opportunity to acquire worldly knowledge.

“But, Father, how can a poor girl like myself be said to be in a good condition of life? I have never had an opportunity to get much learning.

This, you must confess, is a great hardship, and it seems to me to stand in the way of leading a good life and getting to heaven, which you say is the very thing we all live for. What have you got to say to that?”

I say that, on the one hand, true wisdom does not consist in human science or knowledge, or in knowing a great variety of things, and on the other, that the want of such knowledge does not make us ignorant.

If you know a few things, such as the truths contained in the Apostles’ Creed, namely, that God has created you to be happy for ever, that Jesus Christ loved you so much as to lay down His life for you, and that the only true happiness is to be found in seeking first of all “the kingdom of God and His justice”; and if this knowledge has sunk deep in your heart, so that it comes first to mind and directs your actions to God, you are very wise and very learned.

The man who has read a thousand books, if these simple things have not sunk as deep in his mind as in yours, is not so wise and learned as you are.

For example, a learned man hears a sermon, and understands the meaning of every word and of all the ideas, so that he can talk about it to the wonder of every one, but nothing of it all has any practical effect on him.

You, on the contrary, scarcely get the full meaning of a single sentence, and all long and hard words fly over your head, but you notice some saying of our Lord Jesus Christ, perhaps this: “Learn of Me, for I am meek and humble of heart, and you shall find rest for your soul.”

It makes a deep impression; you often recall it to mind; it makes you mild and gentle, and more and more so during your whole life.

You have understood that sermon better and learned more than that man did. You have got more in that sentence than whole piles of books contain.

The fathers of the desert, with only the Scripture, or, maybe, only some sentences of it that they knew by heart, but which they kept in mind, and felt deeply and acted out, became so wise and prudent that learned men took long journeys on purpose to get their advice on important affairs.

They spoke with such truth and force that their words penetrated the hearts of thousands who came to listen to them.

Knowledge of worldly things often fills the soul with so many distracting ideas that it is difficult to take in the meaning of divine things.

The good girl, who really desires to love God, will be taught by God Himself how to do it. She will hear the principles of wisdom taught in the church, and from the lips of others, and God will constantly whisper them to her heart, so that she will become very wise.

So Thomas a Kempis, speaking in the person of our Lord, says: “I am the one who teaches how to despise worldly things; to be tired of that which must pass away; to seek that which is eternal; to be wise in regard to eternal things; to fly from honors; to endure scandals without sin; to make one put all his hope in Me; to desire nothing that does not lead to Me, and to love Me in preference to everything else.”

Sublime wisdom! What is all knowledge of all science compared to this?

God, “who resisteth the proud and giveth grace to the humble,” will give you this wisdom if you desire it. Improve what opportunities you have for learning to read and acquiring useful knowledge; but remember that the want of learning and opportunity will not stand in your way if you are truly desirous to be united to God.

He can in abundance make up for all such deficiency, and He will do so, for He is goodness and love itself.

Well, then, on all accounts you see that your condition in life is a most advantageous one. I hope you will consider it so, and never allow yourself to murmur at it.

Be full of joy and thankfulness, and determine by a good life to get from it all the advantages that the Savior of the world has intended it should afford you.

Our Catholic Faith is our mainstay. It is what we live and die for. It is the foundation of our personal life and of our family life. Without it, life is an empty shell. Protect it, nurture it.

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