Enthusiasm ~ Father Narciso Irala


by Fr. Narciso Irala, S.J., Mental Efficiency Without Fatigue


If feelings have so great an influence in arousing and maintaining attention because of the interest they call forth, the same may be said even more forcefully of the emotions, since, according to many psychologists, emotions are only an intensification of feelings or sentiments.

Interest, which is such a help to mental work, is transformed into enthusiasm when it reaches the level of emotion, the whole organism being strongly involved. Then it produces a greater vitality and energy, a greater concentration of attention, a greater pleasure, a greater perseverance in effort.

It is proper to all emotions to limit the field of attention by cutting off any other thought in order to concentrate on the emotional focal point.

When someone is afraid of an impending evil, he can hardly think of anything else; the lover cannot avert his thoughts from the person he loves; on making a new discovery, the researcher feels such a thrill of joy and hope that his attention can hardly be drawn away.

When the adolescent, emerging from the egocentricity of childhood, discovers social, patriotic, or religious values, he sets himself an ideal outside of himself and greater than himself. He will then feel untold enthusiasm in the pursuit of his studies and, as a result, greater energy will help him attain this ideal.

It is the beginning of a new life, the dawn of a great day. Everything seems feasible because of his ideal. It is emotion which has thus entered into play.

Ideal = Emotion = Enthusiasm

This trio is all one or, rather, its members constitute the ideological and physiological causes with their psychic effect. There is another corresponding trio:

Concentration = Efficiency = Joy

Let Us Choose Our Ideal

Let us, then, set before ourselves a great objective for our whole lives, a goal toward which we can clearly and constantly aim. In pursuit of this great, clearly conceived ideal there will spontaneously develop an intense and enduring inclination—sensitive and, at the same time, spiritual—toward that goal which satisfies all our aspirations.

The emotional machinery will be set in motion within us, and in the developing of extraordinary energy each of the following will take part: the hypothalamus in our middle brain, the sympathetic nervous system, and the pituitary and suprarenal gland with their wealth of hormones.

That noble ideal will give unity, harmony, vigor, and a sense of fulfilment to our lives, increasing the physical and psychic perfection of our acts. Unity of thought and desire will put an end to parasitic ideas, will facilitate concentration, and will give to work and study the maximum pleasure and efficiency.

Working with but a single thought is not tiring; since it is agreeable, it also helps us rest. For this reason, an ideal which makes us think constantly of what we greatly desire is a source of peace and joy.

That is the reason why, in a nervous breakdown, an effort is made to discover the patient’s attractions or ideals in order to help him rest. This ideal should not be utopian, but suited to our aptitudes and personality; nor should it be at odds with our Supreme God, the last end of man, for in this case there will be a lack of unity which in the long run will be an evil.

The ideal should also be practical of attainment at every moment; in a word, it should help to make us live the present moment with unity and fullness. This gives true happiness.

Establish a Relationship between Our Ideal and Our Work

An undergraduate in Sao Paolo, Brazil, confided this problem to me. He had failed his Latin examination three times and hated the course. I asked him: ‘Have you any goal for your future life?’

`Yes,’ he answered, ‘I should like to be an orator and a writer. I want to help free my country from those villains who govern it only for their own benefit.’

`That is a wonderful ideal,’ I answered, ‘but don’t you see that the best models of oratory and poetry are to be found in Latin literature? Besides, Portuguese is a Romance language, and you will never discover all its treasures unless you know the language from which it is derived—Latin.’

When he began to connect the light and splendor of his golden ideal with this dreaded study of Latin, he not only became interested, but grew so enthusiastic about Latin that in the following examination he received a most respectable grade.

Every educator or speaker, once he knows what he is going to teach, should devote as much time as possible to find methods of arousing interest and enthusiasm in his listeners by appealing to their feelings and emotions.

For our own part, once we have discovered our ideal and have made it concrete, we should summarize it in a few words, so that we can keep it constantly in mind. In this manner, we shall find new life, strength, pleasure, constancy and efficiency.

And St. Francis De Sales says: “The measure of Divine Providence acting on us is the degree of confidence that we have in it.” This is where the problem lies. Many do not believe in Providence because they’ve never experienced it, but they’ve never experienced it because they’ve never jumped into the void and taken the leap of faith. They never give it the possibility to intervene. They calculate everything, anticipate everything, they seek to resolve everything by counting on themselves, instead of counting on God. -Fr. Jacques Philippe, Searching For and Maintaining Peace

What are the stages of courtship? What are the goals in it? How do we do this?

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Salvation and spiritual perfection should not be sought haphazardly; a strategy is needed to win the battle for our souls.

The Spiritual Combat, first published in 1589, provides timeless guidance in spiritual discipline. St. Francis de Sales (1576-1622) read from it himself every day and recommended it to everyone under his direction.

Vigorous, realistic and full of keen insight into human nature, The Spiritual Combat consists of short chapters based on the maxim that in the spiritual life one must either “fight or die”. Fr. Scupoli shows the Christian how to combat his passions and vices, especially impurity and sloth, in order to arrive at victory.

The Way of Trust and Love A Retreat Guided By St. Thérèse of Lisieux Jacques Philippe St. Thérèse of Lisieux sought a new way to Heaven: “a little way that is quite straight, quite short: a completely new little way.” Blessed with personal limitations that might have discouraged another, Thérèse believed God would not have given her a desire for holiness if He did not intend for her to achieve it. She learned to humbly accept herself as she was and trust completely in God’s love. First given as a retreat by renowned author Father Jacques Philippe, The Way of Trust and Love navigates excerpts of St. Thérèse’s writings phrase by phrase, extracting powerful, resonating insights. To Thérèse, the journey seemed “little” as she traveled it. A hundred and fifteen years after her death, the message of the young saint and Doctor of the Church has traveled around the world inspiring millions. With this newly translated study of her spirituality, many today will rediscover—or find for the first time—the relevance of “the little way,” in all seasons of life. Fr. Jacques Philippe is well-known for his books on prayer and spirituality. A member of the Community of the Beatitudes, he regularly preaches retreats in France and abroad. He also spends much of his time giving spiritual direction and working for the development of the Community in Asia and Oceania where he travels frequently.

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