From Chapter 1 of Saint Josemaría Escrivá’s book The Way: Character


Get rid of that ‘small-town’ outlook. Enlarge your heart till it becomes universal, ‘catholic’.

Don’t flutter about like a hen, when you can soar to the heights of an eagle.


We all want to succeed in life and to do something to leave our mark in the world and separate ourselves from the pack. Yet we tend to conform to the habits and lifestyles that we are fed through the media. Music, fashion…even household designs. A lot of us become hens and do not desire friends, or tasks, or teaching that will challenge us to soar. Our hearts, as well as our minds, remain small. The following fable helps to illustrate this point.


In a forest an eagle lived on a tree. It had built a nest wherein to lay its eggs. There the eagle would hatch its eggs all through the day.

Under the same tree there lived a hen. The hen had also laid eggs during the same period when the eagle had laid its eggs.

One day, while the eagle had gone for hunting, a bear climbed up the tree to eat the eagle’s eggs. The bear had finished three of the eggs when the fourth one slipped off its hands and fell into the hen’s nest. On returning, the eagle could not find her eggs. Feeling terribly upset, she decided to leave the place.

The hen which lived under the tree saw the eagle’s egg by the side of her eggs. She felt eggs pity on the eagle’s egg, and decided to hatch it too. After a few days, the hen’s chicks hatched. The eagle’s chick hatched, too.

The hen would feed all the chicks, including the eagle’s chick, as if it were her own. Soon the chicks began to grow.

The young chicks would listen to their mother’s sounds and try to imitate her. The eagle’s chick also picked up the hen’s sounds. The chicks would all play together and make lots of noise.

Within no time the hen’s chicks as well as the eagle’s chick grew up to their full size. The eagle’s chick never realized that it was an eagle and not a hen. Considering itself a hen, the eagle would. eat hen’s food, would walk and run like other hens and would make sounds like hens. The eagle never learnt to fly like other eagles and lived its whole life like a hen only.


It is difficult to fly like eagles when you live with hens. The people with whom you associate have a great influence on how you think and behave. Choose your friends carefully.