Monday, May 22, 2006

6th Week of Easter - Zeal

"I came forth from the Father and have come into the world." St. John, 16:28.

No doubt most of you have heard Lowell Thomas, the well-known com­mentator, either in newsreels or over the radio. You may have read some of his articles and books. Perhaps you have remarked:
"That fellow makes a fat living. Just a couple of hours a day, and he is finished. For that he gets thousands of dollars."

Let us see how easy Lowell Thomas has it. He breakfasts every morning at eight, and is at his desk by nine, tackling two hours of editorial work, followed by two solid hours of dictation. Twice a week he attends official luncheons at 29th Century-Fox Company, in addition to other civic and charitable affairs. From two in the afternoon until his evening broadcast Thomas and his assistants labor on their script. They choose, condense, check, re-check, write and re-write, rehearse and rehearse, until they have a program as perfect as possible.

Only after the program does he take a bite to eat. At 10:30 P.M. the man with the rich and sometimes jaunty voice starts his stint of newsreel commentating, at which he works two nights a week until three or four in the morning. In his so-called spare time he works on a commercial film, a weekly magazine article, with an occasional hour on some book he is writing.

Lowell Thomas works day and night for five days a week. He is well paid, but he also has to deny himself much of the ease and many of the comforts that the average American enjoys.

As one writer put it:
"The secret of successful people is this: They work. Successful men and women do not necessarily have any talents or opportunities that you don't have-unless it is the urge and the capacity to work hard."

If men like Lowell Thomas can slave day after day, day and night, for money and fame, why can't we work for spiritual things? If Thomas can sacrifice social pleasure for his career, why can't we make similar sacrifices for our eternal career?

We have outlined the principal powers of the true Christian, the necessary, fruitful virtues of faith, hope ~nd charity, and the four cardinal or key virtues of prudence, justice, temperance, and fortitude. Don't expect to acquire these spiritual powers unless you make an effort. The career of holiness demands as much effort as any other. We do need the urge and capacity to work hard at holiness. That urge is what we call zeal or diligence, another important virtue.

1. Zeal means ardor and fervor in the pursuit of anything. Religious zeal means ardor and fervor in the pursuit of the virtues. It means being fer­vently and actively interested in those virtues. It means enthusiasm in their practice. It means two things especially:
A. Working for God.
B. Working for the good of our souls.

2. The effects of zeal are many:
A. It gives a certain ease and joy in performing our religious duties.
B. It nourishes the light of faith with the oil of good works.
C. It keeps us ready at all times to do God's work.
D. It helps us avoid many temptations.
E. It makes us more competent in our work in the world, our job or position in life.
F. It gets things done in a spiritual way.

3. Zeal shows itself:
A. In devotion to our religious duties:
i. Daily prayer, however brief, is regular and fervent.
ii. Sunday Mass, and daily Mass when possible, is a joy and not a burden.
iii. The Sacraments become a privilege rather than an obligation.
iv. Spiritual reading is preferred to all other types of reading.
B. In performing our daily work as perfectly as possible. Successful people like Lowell Thomas, and especially those who attained the highest success, the saints, were never slipshod or careless in their daily activities. Many a saint has declared and has demonstrated that the performance of ordinary duties extraordinarily well is the test and the program for making a saint.

C. In using every moment and every opportunity; in keeping,mind and body busy with the things of God.

D. In staying at it, that is, in persevering. How weary and tiresome the daily grind becomes even to successful people. Often tbey are tempted to take it easy, to let something slide, to slow down in their efforts. Zeal urges them to keep on. Oh, how necessary this zeal is in the things of the soul.

What else was it but zeal for the redemption and the sanctification of man that prompted the Son of God to leave His home in heaven and come to this earth? He reminds us of this today when He tells us : "I came forth from the Father and have come into the world."

And in this world, what work of soul and body the Savior performed, day after day. He gave and gave of Himself, gave until He could give no more, gave until His last drop of blood was shed for our salvation. There is zeal at its highest and its best.

How does your zeal compare with that of Christ? Amen.
Adapted from Prayers, Precepts and Virtues
by Fr. Arthur Tonne, OFM (©1949)

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