An Encouraging Word — The merits of self-discipline

I will rather boast most gladly of my weakness, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me. II Corinthians 12:9

Fr. Ron Knott.RGBa.2012Well, we are quickly coming to the end of Lent. Hopefully, we have all learned a few things about ourselves as we tried to focus on prayer, fasting and almsgiving. I don’t know about you, but I am never all that happy with myself at this point in Lent.

I meant well, but I have nothing to brag about. Maybe that in itself is a good place to be here at the end of this holy season. Otherwise, we might be like the Pharisee standing in the front of the synagogue “thanking God that we are not like other people — greedy, dishonest and adulterous.” Maybe our failure to “get it right” has spared us becoming arrogant and judgmental of others who have failed, but tried nonetheless.

What I realized, once again, is that the bridge between goals and accomplishments is discipline. It’s harder to “get a grip” on ourselves than just making a promise to do it. Here are some of the things I learned about self-discipline in my less than perfect efforts at trying to practice it.

Self-discipline is the ability to do something even if you don’t feel like doing it. It is making yourself do and follow through with difficult things. It is one of the highest personal qualities to have and a way of self-mastery.

One of the strange things about self-discipline is that those who subject themselves to strict personal discipline, who give up certain pleasurable things in order to achieve a goal, are the happiest people — just ask those who have reached their goals on a diet, those who graduate after years of intense study or those who have saved regularly for retirement. The foundation of lasting self-confidence and self-esteem is self-discipline.

Discipline must be freely chosen. You cannot make anybody be good, if they do not want to be good. Forced from the outside, discipline lasts only as long as external pressure is applied. The only discipline that lasts is self-discipline. The hardest victory is to conquer oneself — one’s emotions, passions and appetites. Mastering oneself is true power.

Rather than a burden, discipline is ultimately a form of freedom. People who are anxious to improve their circumstances without having to improve themselves, remain stuck where they are, or worse, slip lower.

If we do not discipline ourselves, the world will do it for us. Without self-discipline we will either live our lives in total chaos or end up surrendering control of them to the slavery of dictators, tyrants or some prison system of one sort or another.

One of the real purposes of Lent is to reveal ourselves to ourselves. So what if we were not totally successful in our efforts at self-discipline? If nothing else, Lent is a yearly opportunity to force ourselves to wake up and pay attention to what’s really going on with us!

Father J. Ronald Knott

The Record
Written By
The Record
More from The Record
Around the Archdiocese — March 23
Catholic Men’s Conference set for March 31 at Our Lady of Lourdes...
Read More
0 replies on “An Encouraging Word — The merits of self-discipline”