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The Waning Presence of Self Control

Updated on August 10, 2022

“With God there is no need for long speeches” ~ Saint Jane Frances de Chantal

The Church over the course of yesterday and today celebrates the lives of two fascinating women, both of whom would go on to start religious orders that remain vibrant and very relevant to this day.

Yesterday, August 11th, was the Memorial of Saint Clare, one of the very first followers of Francis of Assisi. Saint Clare is the founder of The Order of Poor Ladies, a monastic religious order for women in the Franciscan tradition. “Love Him totally, who gave Himself totally for your love,” she would often tell the young sisters of her Order, a principal upon which she would forge and establish the Rule of Life, the first set of monastic guidelines ever to be written by a woman. Following her death, the Order she founded was renamed the Order of Saint Clare, also known as the “Poor Clares.“ Saint Clare is the Patron Saint of embroiderers and those who suffer from eye diseases.

Today our Church honors the memory of Saint Jane Frances de Chantal, founder of The Visitation of Holy Mary Religious Order. A protégé of Saint Francis de Sales, who would become her spiritual director, Saint Jane Frances would go on to spearhead an institution for women who were called to exemplify the virtues of the Blessed Mother at the Visitation, namely meekness and humility, hence the Order’s name. Saint Jane Frances de Chantal is the Patron Saint of forgotten people, widows, and parents who are separated from their children. These two obedient women of grace remind us that God doesn’t choose the equipped; he instead equips those he chooses.

In yesterday’s Gospel (Matthew 18:1-5, 10, 12-14), Jesus encourages his disciples to cultivate a child-like faith in God, one that imbues hope and avoids the incessant worry and crippling anxiety that the devil sadistically and relentlessly employs. “Let nothing perturb you, nothing frighten you,” Saint Teresa of Avila would often say. “All things pass. God does not change. Patience achieves everything." Given the state of affairs in our world today, we must always remember this. God does not change. God will never abandon his children. God will emerge victorious. To borrow another quote from Saint Teresa “When the devil tries to remind you of your past, remind him of his future.”

In today’s Gospel (Matthew 18:15-20), Jesus tells those gathered in his midst “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone.” This would appear to be one of those teachings that has fallen by the wayside in recent years. In this day and age of Twitter squabbles and other various forms of immodesty and mock outrage, all designed to right an alleged wrong carried out by Party A upon Party B, trash talk and other petty revenge tactics rule the day.

To the person in the orange Volkswagen who cut my off on Highway 41 this morning during rush hour, I just want you to know that . . . (fill in the blank)”

I seemingly get at least one or two of these a week on my Facebook Feed, leading me to wonder: In a state of 10.6 million people, does the author of this silly rant really believe that orange VW guy/girl is gonna see this?” Saint Camillus wouldn’t even take that bet

Is it really necessary to react in animated fashion to everything that happens to us? To everything we see and hear? Whatever happened to simply offering up a quick prayer to Saint Christopher, the patron saint of drivers, in thanksgiving for having avoided a collision? My mother couldn’t have been the only one who had a Saint Christopher Badge pinned to the maroon sun visor of her white 1962 Ford Falcon, right?

Self control is becoming a forgotten virtue in our world today, due in part to the fact that it’s not nearly as valued as it once was. As alluded to earlier, “talking smack” as the kids like to call it now rules the day. But there’s a reason that this unchecked, irrational and disordered outburst known as wrath is one of the seven deadly sins. As the Book of Proverbs tells us “a man without self control is like a city broken into and left without walls.” (25:28). Prayers to the Holy Spirit wherein we ask for this virtue can indeed go a long way

Self control is in fact our best weapon against all the deadly sins; wrath, gluttony, lust . . . the list goes on.

Jesus is always so willing to forgive us of our sins because he wants us to move on from our brokenness and get back to the business of doing his work, that of carrying out his divine plan. His plan is uniquely different for each of us yes, but it contains one common denominator: we are all called to love God, to serve Him, and to serve our neighbors as well. That’s difficult if not impossible to do if we are not in control of our passions, instead remaining mired in the subsequent guilt and despair that always accompanies the impulsiveness of sin.

I leave you with a simple prayer than can be offered up to God wherein we seek the gift of self control. Strive to foster it in your relationship while cultivating it in all that you do, for to quote Saint Paul, “The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”

Dear God, please give me your grace to adequately utilize my tongue. Let my words be seasoned with grace and bless other people. Also, let my speech motivate people to move closer to you.“ ~ Amen

. . . . Saint Clare of Assisi and Saint Jane Frances de Chantal, pray for us.

Saint Clare of Assisi

Saint Jane Frances de Chantal


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