Mental Hygiene ~ The Catholic Teacher’s Companion


This book, The Catholic Teacher’s Companion, has been a real gem! It was written for teaching sisters and this excerpt touches on the mental state of a person and how it affects one’s physical health….

From The Catholic Teacher’s Companion, 1924

In his helpful book Health through Will Power, Dr. James J. Walsh has drawn attention to the surprising power of the will for preserving or recovering one’s health.

The author draws on his wide reading and long experience to prove that the simple exercise of natural will-power is all that is required to cure half the ills of life. All the “dreads” can be cured by scientifically strengthening the will, and recovery from such diseases as pneumonia and tuberculosis depends largely on the patient’s vigor of will.

He counsels the use of the saints’ ascesis, in hours of stress and strain, instead of the “good cry,” which, in his opinion, only weakens the character.

The teacher has a double duty to perform in this respect, one toward herself and another toward her pupils.

Professor La Rue therefore demands justly in his book Psychology for Teachers, that the teacher live a life of mental health in the presence of her pupils; she must daily show them a living example of a big, strong, purposeful, well-poised, good-humored, sympathetic soul.

To this end he gives the following rules of mental hygiene:

1. Look at life in the large. Take a big view of things.

2. Pursue a great purpose. Whoever seeks his own selfish will is traveling toward zero; but he who seeks to serve mankind and her God in the children, is facing toward infinity.

3. Practice mental hardening. Children should be taught to meet and conquer all their ordinary worries and troubles, and not to shun them.

4. Keep your poise. Many people fail because of over-anxiety lest they fail.

5. Form good mental habits:

I. Habits of the intellect:

(1) Planning: there should be an ideal for life, a plan for the year, a program for the day.

“The difficulty,” says Judd, speaking of over-worked teachers, in Genetic Psychology for Teachers, “is not so much in the fact that teachers have to think and plan, as that they come to their work in a state of mental confusion and excitement which renders any task difficult.”

(2) Concentration, unit-mindedness, the one-thing-at-a-time attitude, distinguishes the master mind. Work when you work and play when you play. One must concentrate on recreation as well as on work.

Don’t spoil your game or your walk by carrying all through it a load of anxious thought.

And on going to bed, learn to turn off consciousness as you do your electric light.

Observe that the child in school is prevented from planning the larger features of his work, and that school conditions often favor distraction rather than concentration.

It is sad to think how many children are probably contracting bad mental habits in school.

II. Emotional health requires that we kill off the feelings that are bad for us and practice those that are good for us.

There is reason to believe that a large proportion, if not the major portion, of those who lose their positions do not lack either intellect or skill, but emotional control.

Many are egocentric, paranoid, have too much self-feeling; others are emotionally unstable; and still others, emotionally weak.

One’s prevailing mental state should be that of happiness and humor. It is surprising to find how much can be accomplished by just setting the mind to be happy whatever the circumstances.

Humor is like an application of mental massage which flushes out fatigue poisons and limbers one up all through. It lets loose the tensity of mental currents. The mind seems to relax, straighten up from its work, and take a long, fresh breath.

III. Quiet but effective determination must keep the mental machine running smoothly, rousing us to kill off some thoughts and feelings and promote others.

God’s grace coupled with natural will-power can accomplish wonders with a frail body.

Almost every Religious Order has cases similar to that of the Master General of the Dominicans, Father Cormier, who being professed as a preparation for death, outlived all his fellow-novices, and having joined the Order to efface himself, was from the beginning put upon the candlestick to be a light for his brethren.

But even the confirmed invalid has a real mission to perform in the Religious Community.

Canon Sheehan contended that there should be an invalid and an incurable one in every Religious Community, if only to bring God nearer to the Brothers or Sisters in His great love.

“Every effort we make to forget self, to leave self behind us, and to devote ourselves to the labor of making every person with whom we are bound to live, happy, is rewarded by interior satisfaction and joy. The supreme effort of goodness is,—not alone to do good to others; that is its first and lower effect,—but to make others good.” Rev. Bernard O’Reilly The Mirror of True Womanhood, 1893 https://amzn.to/2o35uN3 (afflink)

Lecture on protecting your family from the neo-pagan society that we live in today. How to do that? Music, books, stories, liturgy, etc. are answers…..

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Women historically have been denigrated as lower than men or viewed as privileged. Dr. Alice von Hildebrand characterizes the difference between such views as based on whether man’s vision is secularistic or steeped in the supernatural. She shows that feminism’s attempts to gain equality with men by imitation of men is unnatural, foolish, destructive, and self-defeating. The Blessed Mother’s role in the Incarnation points to the true privilege of being a woman. Both virginity and maternity meet in Mary who exhibits the feminine gifts of purity, receptivity to God’s word, and life-giving nurturance at their highest.

You’ll learn how to grow in wisdom and in love as you encounter the unglamorous, everyday problems that threaten all marriages. As the author says: If someone were to give me many short bits of wool, most likely I would throw them away. A carpet weaver thinks differently. He knows the marvels we can achieve by using small things artfully and lovingly. Like the carpet weaver, the good wife must be an artist of love. She must remember her mission and never waste the little deeds that fill her day the precious bits of wool she s been given to weave the majestic tapestry of married love.

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