Don't let your life be barren. Be useful

Don't let your life be barren. Be useful. Make yourself felt. Shine forth with the torch of your faith and your love.

With your apostolic life, wipe out the trail of filth and slime left by the corrupt sowers of hatred. And set aflame all the ways of the earth with the fire of Christ that you bear in your heart.


How I wish your bearing and conversation were such that, on seeing or hearing you, people would say: This man reads the life of Jesus Christ.


Maturity. Stop acting the child; drop that affectation that only suits a silly girl. Let your outward conduct reflect the peace and order of your soul.


Don't say: 'That's the way I'm made… it's my character'. It's your lack of character: Be a man.


Get used to saying No.


Turn your back on the tempter when he whispers in your ear: 'Why make life difficult for yourself?'


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.


Serenity. Why lose your temper if by doing so you offend God, annoy other people, upset yourself… and have to find it again in the end?


Say what you have just said, but in a different tone, without anger, and your argument will gain in strength and, above all, you won't offend God.


Never correct anyone while you are still indignant about a fault committed. Wait until the next day, or even longer. And then, calmly, and with a purer intention, make your reprimand. You will gain more by one friendly word than by a three-hour quarrel. Control your temper.


Will-power. Energy. Example. What has to be done, is done… without hesitation, without more worrying.

Otherwise, Teresa of Avila would not have been Saint Teresa: nor Iñigo of Loyola, Saint Ignatius.

God and daring! 'We want Christ to reign!'


Let those very obstacles give you strength. God's grace will not fail you: 'Inter medium montium pertransibunt aquae!You shall pass through the mountains!'

Does it matter that you have to curtail your activity for the moment if afterwards, like a spring which has been compressed, you will reach incomparably farther than you ever dreamed?


Get rid of those useless thoughts which, at best, are but a waste of time.


Don't waste your time and your energy — which belong to God — throwing stones at the dogs that bark at you on your way. Ignore them.


Don't put off your work until tomorrow.


You a drifter? You… one of the crowd? You, who were born to be a leader!

There is no room among us for the lukewarm. Humble yourself and Christ will set you aflame again with the fire of Love.


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 of your life a dead and useless puppet.


You persist in being worldly, superficial, scatter-brained, because you are a coward. What is it but cowardice not to want to face yourself?


Will-power. A very important quality. Don't despise little things, for by the continual practice of denying yourself again and again in such things — which are never futile or trivial — with God's grace you will add strength and resilience to your character. In that way you will first become master of yourself, and then a guide, a chief, a leader: to compel and to urge and to inspire others, with your word, with your example, with your knowledge and with your power.


It is inevitable that you should feel the rub of other people's characters against your own. After all, you are not a gold coin that everyone likes.

Besides, without that friction produced by contact with others, how would you ever lose those corners, those edges and projections — the imperfections and defects — of your character, and acquire the smooth and regular finish, the firm flexibility of charity, of perfection?

If your character and the characters of those who live with you were soft and sweet like sponge-cake you would never become a saint.


Excuses. You will always find plenty if you want to avoid your obligations. What a profusion of well-thought-out nonsense!

Don't stop to consider it. Dismiss it and do your duty.


Be firm. Be virile. Be a man. And then… be a saint.


You say that you can't do more? Could it not be that… you can't do less?


You are ambitious: for knowledge, for leadership, for great ventures.

Good. Very good. But let it be for Christ, for Love.


Don't argue. Arguing seldom brings light, for the light is quenched by passion.


Matrimony is a holy sacrament. When the time comes for you to receive it, ask your spiritual adviser or your confessor to suggest a suitable book. And you will be better prepared to bear worthily the burdens of the home.


You laugh because I tell you that you have a 'vocation for marriage'? Well, you have just that: a vocation.

Commend yourself to the Archangel Raphael that he may keep you pure, as he did Tobias, until the end of the way.


Marriage is for the soldiers and not for the General Staff of Christ's army. For, whereas food is a necessity for each individual, procreation is a necessity for the species only, not for the individual.

Longing for children? Children, many children, and a lasting trail of light we shall leave behind us if we sacrifice the selfishness of the flesh.


The limited, miserable happiness of the egoist — who withdraws into his ivory tower, into his shell — is not difficult to attain in this world. But the happiness of the egoist is not lasting.

For this false semblance of heaven, are you going to forsake the happiness which will have no end?


You are too calculating. Don't tell me you are young. Youth gives all it can: it gives itself without reserve.


Selfish. Always looking after yourself You seem incapable of feeling the fraternity of Christ. In those around you, you do not see brothers: you see stepping stones.

I can foresee your complete failure. And when you have fallen, you will want others to treat you with the charity you are not willing to show towards them.


You will never be a leader if you see others only as stepping-stones to get ahead. You will be a leader if you are ambitious for the salvation of all mankind.

You can't turn your back on your fellow-men: you have to be anxious to make them happy.


You never want to get to the heart of the matter. Sometimes, through politeness. Other times, most times, through fear of hurting yourself Sometimes again, through fear of hurting others. And, always, through fear!

As long as you are so afraid of the truth you will never be a man of sound judgment, a man of worth.


Don't be afraid of the truth, even though the truth may mean your death.


I don't like your euphemistic habit of calling cowardice prudence.

For, as a result, God's enemies, with minds empty of ideas, will take advantage of your 'prudence' to acquire the name of learning and so reach positions that they never should attain.


Yes, that abuse can be eradicated. It shows lack of character to let it continue as something hopeless, with no possible remedy.

Don't shirk your duty. Carry it out conscientiously, even though others neglect theirs.


You have a persuasive tongue. But in spite of all your talk, you cannot justify — by saying it was 'providential' — what has no justification.


Could it be true — no, no, I can't believe it — that in the world there are not men but bellies?


'Pray that I may never be satisfied with what is easy.' I have prayed. Now it is up to you to carry out that fine resolution.


Faith, cheerfulness, optimism. But not the idiocy of closing one's eyes to reality.


What a 'profound' way of living a life of empty follies, of getting somewhere in the world: rising, always rising, simply by 'weighing little', having nothing inside, either in your head or in your heart.


Why that fitful character? When are you going to apply your will to something definite? Drop that craze for foundation-stones, and put the finishing touch to just one of your projects.


Don't be so touchy. The least thing offends you. it's necessary to weigh one's words well before speaking to you even on the most

trivial matter.

Don't be annoyed if I tell you that you are… unbearable. Unless you change, you will never be of any use.


Give the polite excuse which christian charity and social convention demand. And then… on your way again! With holy shamelessness, without stopping until you have finally scaled the heights of duty.


Why are you hurt by what people say about you? How much worse you would be if God were to leave you. Persevere in doing good, and shrug your shoulders.


Don't you think that equality, as some people understand it, is synonymous with injustice?


That pose and that self-satisfied manner don't suit you at all: they are easily seen to be affected. Try, at least, to use them neither with God, nor with your Director, nor with your brothers: and between them and you there will be one barrier less.


You lack strength of character: what insistence on having a hand in everything! You are bent on being the salt of every dish. And — you won't be annoyed if I speak clearly — you have little aptitude for being salt: in particular, you lack its capacity to dissolve and pass unnoticed.

You have too little spirit of sacrifice and too great a spirit of curiosity and ostentation.


Hold your tongue! Don't be childish, the caricature of a child: telltale, mischief-maker, little sneak! With your stories and tales you have chilled the glow of charity: you couldn't have done more harm, and if by any chance that wagging tongue of yours has shaken the walls of other people's perseverance, your own perseverance ceases to be a grace from God, for it has become a treacherous instrument of the enemy.


You are curious and inquisitive, prying and nosey. Are you not ashamed that even in your defects you are not much of a man? Be a man: and instead of poking into other people's lives seek to acquire a true knowledge of your own.


Your manly character — simple and straightforward — is oppressed when you find yourself entangled in gossip and mischievous talk, which you cannot understand and in which you never wished to be involved. Undergo the humiliation that such talk causes you and let the experience teach you greater discretion.


When judging other people, why do you put into your criticism the bitterness of your own failures?


That critical spirit — I admit that there are no unworthy motives behind it — should not be exercised upon your apostolate, nor upon your brothers. I will speak plainly: that critical spirit is a great hindrance to the supernatural undertaking in which you are all engaged, for while you examine the work of the others — with the highest possible motives, I admit — without there being any reason why you should do so, you are not doing anything constructive, and furthermore by being negative you are holding up the progress of all.

'Then', you ask uneasily, 'that critical spirit which is the keynote my character…?'

Listen, I'll set your mind at ease. Take a pen and a sheet of paper. Write down simply and frankly — ah! and briefly — what is worrying you, hand the note to the person in charge, and think no more about it. He has the grace of state. He will file the note or he will throw it into the waste-paper basket. And, since the motives behind your criticism are not unworthy, since they are of the highest, it is all the same to you.


'One must compromise' I Compromise is a word found only in the vocabulary of those who have no will to fight — the lazy, the cunning, the cowardly — for they consider themselves defeated before they start.


My dear man: though you feel very much a child, and though you are one before God, don't be so simple as to put your brother 'on the spot' before strangers.

• Text in chapter 'Character' in the book 'The Way' of Josemaría Escrivá. Link: