Book Talk Tuesday, Introduction to the Devout Life, Part 3, Chapter 10

Book Talk Tuesday, Introduction to the Devout Life, Part 3, Chapter 10

CHAPTER X. We must attend to the Business of Life carefully, but without
Eagerness or Over-anxiety.

THE care and diligence due to our ordinary business are very different
from solicitude, anxiety and restlessness. The Angels care for our
salvation and seek it diligently, but they are wholly free from anxiety
and solicitude, for, whereas care and diligence naturally appertain to
their love, anxiety would be wholly inconsistent with their happiness;
for although care and diligence can go hand in hand with calmness and
peace, those angelic properties could not unite with solicitude or
anxiety, much less with over-eagerness.

Therefore, my daughter, be careful and diligent in all your affairs;
God, Who commits them to you, wills you to give them your best
attention; but strive not to be anxious and solicitous, that is to say,
do not set about your work with restlessness and excitement, and do not
give way to bustle and eagerness in what you do;–every form of
excitement affects both judgment and reason, and hinders a right
performance of the very thing which excites us.

Our Lord, rebuking Martha, said, “Thou art careful and troubled about
many things.” [84] If she had been simply careful, she would not have
been troubled, but giving way to disquiet and anxiety, she grew eager
and troubled, and for that our Lord reproved her. The rivers which flow
gently through our plains bear barges of rich merchandise, and the
gracious rains which fall softly on the land fertilise it to bear the
fruits of the earth;–but when the rivers swell into torrents, they
hinder commerce and devastate the country, and violent storms and
tempests do the like. No work done with impetuosity and excitement was
ever well done, and the old proverb, “Make haste slowly,” is a good
one, [85] Solomon says, “There is one that laboureth and taketh pains,
and maketh haste, and is so much the more behind;” [86] we are always
soon enough when we do well. The bumble bee makes far more noise and is
more bustling than the honey bee, but it makes nought save wax–no
honey; just so those who are restless and eager, or full of noisy
solicitude, never do much or well. Flies harass us less by what they do
than by reason of their multitude, and so great matters give us less
disturbance than a multitude of small affairs. Accept the duties which
come upon you quietly, and try to fulfil them methodically, one after
another. If you attempt to do everything at once, or with confusion,
you will only cumber yourself with your own exertions, and by dint of
perplexing your mind you will probably be overwhelmed and accomplish

In all your affairs lean solely on God’s Providence, by means of which
alone your plans can succeed. Meanwhile, on your part work on in quiet
co-operation with Him, and then rest satisfied that if you have trusted
entirely to Him you will always obtain such a measure of success as is
most profitable for you, whether it seems so or not to your own
individual judgment.

Imitate a little child, whom one sees holding tight with one hand to
its father, while with the other it gathers strawberries or
blackberries from the wayside hedge. Even so, while you gather and use
this world’s goods with one hand, always let the other be fast in your
Heavenly Father’s Hand, and look round from time to time to make sure
that He is satisfied with what you are doing, at home or abroad. Beware
of letting go, under the idea of making or receiving more–if He
forsakes you, you will fall to the ground at the first step. When your
ordinary work or business is not specially engrossing, let your heart
be fixed more on God than on it; and if the work be such as to require
your undivided attention, then pause from time to time and look to God,
even as navigators who make for the haven they would attain, by looking
up at the heavens rather than down upon the deeps on which they sail.
So doing, God will work with you, in you, and for you, and your work
will be blessed.

[84] S. Luke x. 41.

[85] “Festina lente.” “Il faut depescher tout bellement.”

[86] Ecclus. xi. 11.