Some catechesis from Saint John Marie Vianney on those little bad habits that serve to undermine our practice of virtue and can eventually even corrode our faith. These faults may seem innocuous, even very human, but as St. John Vianney notes below, they are filled with the spirit of the world and can serve to draw us further and further from God. And, little faults can, over time, grow into serious sins. Perhaps there is some fruit below for many of us:
Another bad habit which is very common in homes and among working people is impatience, grumbling, and swearing. Now, my children, where do you get with your impatience and your grumbling? Do your affairs go any better? Do they cause you any less trouble? Is it not, rather, the other way around? You have a lot more trouble with them, and, what is even worse, you lose all the merit which you might have gained for Heaven.
But, you will tell me, that is all very well for those who have nothing to put up with………If they were in my shoes they would probably be much worse.
I would agree with all that, my children, if we were not Christians, if we had nothing to hope for beyond what benefits and pleasures we might taste in this world. I would agree if – I repeat – we were the first people who ever suffered anything, but since the time of Adam until the present, all the Saints have had something to suffer, and most of them far more than have we. But they suffered with patience, always subject to the will of God, and soon their troubles were finished, and their happiness, which has begun, will never come to an end. Let us contemplate, my dear brethren, this beautiful Heaven, let us think about the happiness which God has prepared for us there, and we shall endure all the evils of life in a spirit of penitence, with the hope of an eternal reward. If only you could have the happiness of being able to say in the evening that your whole day had been spent for God!
I tell you that working people, if they want to get to Heaven, should endure patiently the rigor of the seasons and the ill humor of those for whom they work; they should avoid those grumbles and bad language so commonly heard and fulfill their duties conscientiously and faithfully. Husbands and wives should live peacefully in their union of marriage; they should be mutually edifying to each other, pray for one another, bear patiently with one another’s faults, encourage virtue in one another by good example, and follow the holy and sacred rules of their state, remembering that they are the children of the Saints and that, consequently, they ought not to behave like pagans, who have not the happiness of knowing the One True God.
One particular weakness I have at this time of year is complaining over the heat and humidity of north Texas. God gave me a special gift in the form of profuse perspiration, something I inherited from my paternal grandmother. Ever since adolescence, I sweat profusely, even at 75 degrees if I’m working hard. This time of year, it’s a challenge not to complain about the heat, and its duration. I catch myself complaining at times, like last night when what should have been a simple truck repair turned into an hour and a half sweat fest. It’s an old habit, and not an easy one to break.
But since I read this sermon from St. John Vianney, I seem to be remembering at least a little better that complaining doesn’t accomplish anything but, perhaps, making me a bit more miserable. Hopefully that’s a first step towards overcoming one of my more major faults.
Cover photo from CatholicTradition.org