From Chapter 1 of Saint Josemaría Escrivá’s book The Way: Character
Don’t succumb to that disease of character whose symptoms are inconstancy in everything, thoughtlessness in action and speech scatter-brained ideas: superficiality, in short.
Mark this well: unless you react in time — not tomorrow: now! — that superficiality which each day leads you to form those empty plans (plans ‘so full of emptiness’) will make your life a dead and useless puppet.
Today is the feast day of Saint Mary Magdalen in the Roman Catholic Church. In today’s Divine Office the second reading in the Office of Readings is from a homily on the Gospels by St. Gregory the Great.
When Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and did not find the Lord’s body, she thought it had been taken away and so informed the disciples. After they came and saw the tomb, they too believed what Mary had told them. The text then says: The disciples went back home, and it adds: but Mary wept and remained standing outside the tomb.
We should reflect on Mary’s attitude and the great love she felt for Christ; for though the disciples had left the tomb, she remained. She was still seeking the one she had not found, and while she sought she wept; burning with the fire of love, she longed for him who she thought had been taken away. And so it happened that the woman who stayed behind to seek Christ was the only one to see him. For perseverance is essential to any good deed, as the voice of truth tells us: Whoever perseveres to the end will be saved.
At first she sought but did not find, but when she persevered it happened that she found what she was looking for. When our desires are not satisfied, they grow stronger, and becoming stronger they take hold of their object. Holy desires likewise grow with anticipation, and if they do not grow they are not really desires.
When I was younger and wanting to build a more superficial empire of my life I became a big proponent of Napoleon Hill’s 17 Success Principles, having read his book Think and Grow Rich several times over the past twenty years and even taken a few courses on the subject. Now to be fair I still think there is great value in the research and work that Mr. Hill did. Like anything else that’s good Hill’s principles can be distorted into something shallow by those looking for shortcuts to success.
I believe today’s entry from St. Josemaría as well as the example of St. Mary Magdalene provided by St. Gregory the Great help to illustrate the following two of Hill’s principles:
Lesson 1: Definiteness of Purpose
Definiteness of purpose is the starting point of all achievement. Without a purpose and a plan, people drift aimlessly through life.
Lesson 6: Personal Initiative
Personal initiative is the power that inspires the completion of that which one begins. It is the power that starts all action. No person is free until he learns to do his own thinking and gains the courage to act on his own.
Mary Magdelene persevered. She remained. She didn’t give up while others went home in despair. Her great love gave her great purpose. A definite and divine purpose that led her to act on her own by staying at the tomb. She may have been a “dead and lifeless puppet” prior to her encounter with Jesus, but she was anything but that once she’d found her purpose in Him.
One could argue that her example fulfills more than just those two I listed above. What other of Hill’s principles might you include?