From Chapter 1 of Saint Josemaría Escrivá’s book The Way: Character
Get used to saying No.
As every parent knows one of the most difficult things in all the world is telling your child “no.” It is a word that to some implies a lack of freedom or a restriction on being able to do the things we want.
But does it?
We see in the Ten Commandments eight “thou shalt nots”:
1. …you shall not have strange Gods before me.
2. You shall not take the name of the LORD your god in vain.
5. You shall not kill.
6. You shall not commit adultery.
7. You shall not steal.
8. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
9. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife.
10. You shall not covet your neighbor’s goods.
So of the ten, eight are in the “negative”. Or at least that’s how many see them.
Two of them are reminders:
3. Remember to keep the LORD’s day
4. Honor your father and mother.
But really, aren’t the other eight reminders as well? Who among us would argue that telling someone “no” to killing is a negative? Or stealing? And the modern morals of the day notwithstanding: adultery, envy, or lust? These in of themselves are things I would argue are negative. By counseling me to avoid these things are their consequences I would say a favor it being done on my behalf.
And favors are generally positive things.
In 1572 a group called the Waterguezen rebelled against the Spanish Hapsburg crown which ruled the Low Countries and eventually led to the creation of an independent Republic of United Provinces (the Netherlands). The town of Gorcum fell into their hands in June, and they captured Nicholas Pick and his companions (11 Franciscan priests and eight diocesan priests). Arrested by Calvinist soldiers and thrown into prison, Pick and the men where taken to Brielle and urged to renounce the Roman Catholic teaching on Christ’s presence in the Eucharist and the primacy of the pope. They refused and were hung from crossbeams. The execution was clumsily handled and it took two hours for some of them to strangle to death. Saint Nicholas Pick and his companions were canonized as saints in 1867.
Pick and these men said no when it would have been easy to say yes. They died as free men.
“What does freedom mean? It is certainly not doing whatever you want, allowing yourself to be dominated by the passions, to pass from one experience to another without discernment, to follow the fashions of the day; freedom does not mean, so to speak, throwing everything that you don’t like out the window. … Let us not be afraid of life commitments, commitments that take up and concern our entire life! In this way our life will be fruitful! And this is freedom: to have the courage to make these decisions with generosity.” – Pope Francis, May 4, 2013