"A man who governs his passions is master of the world. We must either rule them or be ruled by them. It is better to be the hammer than the anvil." -St. Dominic Guzman
This quote from St. Dominic really hits home with me. Maybe because I am a woman, but most likely simply because I am a sinner, my passions often get the better of me.
One unkind word can make me mopey for the rest of the day. A recently-cleaned room now unclean when I reenter it less than 24 hours later makes me totally frustrated. An overloaded schedule makes me anxious about the many things I feel I must get done. On the other hand, just one more glance at Facebook or one more article to read on the internet too often leads to wasted time.
It is time to stop being the anvil and start acting more like the hammer! I cannot let the unkind word, messy room, busy schedule or Facebook rule me; I must be the hammer.
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When someone says something mean to me, I can assume they had a rough day and are speaking out of a frustration welling up inside of them. Perhaps, they had a bad day, at the least; or maybe they simply have bad manners, at the worst. Either way, I must begin to realize that their words reflect more on them than on me. (And I ought to remember the same applies to me and my words). Practicing the virtue of prudence can help me with this.
When I walk into an unclean room, instead of seeing just a mess, I should also see the creativity (my kids build some cool forts) and enthusiasm of childhood. No need to get frustrated. All I really need to do is call the children into the room and tell them to put away what they got out - after complimenting them on their fantastic fort. The virtue of justice would ask that of me.
When my schedule is crazy, I do not need to go crazy with it; I need the virtue of fortitude. I can enter the day courageously, knowing that what must get done will, and what I can't get done will wait for another day. That's ok. What is mot important is to try to enjoy the moment I am in right now. With fortitude, I can find the good in every timetable set before me.
When I do not have time to waste (which is usually), before I get onto the computer, I should determine why I am getting on, do it and get off. The virtue of temperance can help me hit the little X on the upper, right-hand corner when my task is completed or my free time is up.
It is not easy being a hammer, pounding away at all those natural instincts. Only by God's good grace and practicing the four cardinal virtues can we hope to have more hammer moments than anvil. As my daughter would say, "The struggle is real!" It takes effort. Keep pounding away, though, because it is so worth it.
Just ask St. Dominic.
So, do you care to share something at which you need to hammer away? What virtue may help you?
Copyright 2016 Kelly Guest
About the Author
God has given Kelly lots of wonderful opportunities to follow Him. She was a Dominican Sister of St. Cecilia in Nashville, an education coordinator for a Catholic Charities' program for pregnant teens, a middle school teacher, a director of religious education and is now a youth minister. Her most challenging and rewarding calling, though, is wife and mother of ten children. What she has learned, she blogs at CatholicMom.com.