[Side note: To arms]
My advice to all ecclesiastical students is—search and see if unmannerly ways are ingrafting themselves into your character. If so, give them no quarter. Master an approved handbook, and during the recreations raise discussions on details of good manners. Ask your friends candidly to point out your defects. It is far easier to be admonished by one friend whose correction is swathed in soft charity than await till a dozen sneerers send their poisoned arrows to fester in your heart. In correcting yourselves and asking your friends to admonish you, it will assist you to pocket your pride, to remember that three such weighty issues as the efficiency of your ministry, the honour of the priesthood, and the comfort of your future home will in a large measure be influenced by the degree of social culture you carry out of college.
No man has greater need to fear than he who stands high in his class. When any habit becomes fixed it requires a high degree of humility and moral courage to root it out. But, intellectual pride, nourished by college triumphs, is up in arms. He scorns to be corrected or taught by a world he despises. Let me ask, did God give him these intellectual gifts for himself or as instruments by which to win souls back to their Father? The man who, rather than bend his own pride, allows his talents to become useless incurs an awful responsibility.
Stubbornly refuse to be corrected or to shape and polish your manners while in college, and one thing I absolutely promise you, with all the authority a long experience can give, that when you do go out from the college you will meet a master that will bend and break you. The roasting fire of the world’s scorn will search the very marrow of your bones.
ENGLISH: ITS NECESSITY TO A YOUNG PRIEST
Let me begin by asking one plain question—If all the scholastic wealth with which St. Thomas has enriched the world lay embedded in the mind of a Missionary priest: if he more than rivalled Suarez as a casuist, and Bellarmine as a controversialist, yet if he failed to acquire a mastery over the only instrument by which he could bring to bear the riches of his own intellect on the minds of those around him, of what value is all the wealth entombed within his head?
If he has acquired no command of the rich vocabulary, the graceful elegance of diction, the mysterious beauty of expression, the abundant illustration, the art of storing nervous vigour and living thought into crisp and pregnant terseness: if this one weapon, a finished English education, is not at his disposal, his knowledge, as far as others are concerned, is so much lumber: to the one spot alone—the Confessional—his efficiency is narrowed. The other fields of his ministry are deprived of the immense service this learning might afford.
Let us see how this works out in practice. The unctions of ordination are scarcely dry on your hands till you begin to realise what you never realised before—viz., that in the most literal sense of the word you belong to the Church Militant.