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Purity of the body is grounded in purity of the soul

Bodily purity, as important as it is, is grounded purity found at a deeper level – purity of soul. This is, I think what Jesus was driving at when, on the Mount of Beatitudes, He declared, “Blessed are the single-hearted,” sometimes translated as “... the pure of heart.”

At the risk of being too personal, I want to illustrate this point by sharing with you a portion of a letter I recently found in my memoirs. I wrote it to my mother during my first year in the seminary.

Mother Dearest,

I have written down a quote from Romano Guardini’s book “The Lord,” in which he said “For the greatest things are accomplished in silence – not in the clamor and display of superficial eventfulness, but in the deep charity of inner vision; in the almost imperceptible start of decision, in quiet overcoming and hidden sacrifice.” To me this rings with a wonderful truth and is why I want to be a priest who is not before the public eye but rather a priest who instills in people this “almost imperceptible start of decision” – a priest who works in quiet overcoming and hidden sacrifice. The world (worldly world) looks longingly at pomp and power and some men are moved only by that sort of influence. To me, this is not possible because I do not have the nature to be a great figure; I am no Bishop Sheen or Cardinal Spellman. I just don’t have the equipment to be one. But I would much rather be the priest that moves others’ hearts. Do you remember the quiet way of Barry Fitzgerald and Bing Crosby in “Going My Way?” The model that the Church presents is the Curé d’Ars? Here is real Christ-likeness! Here is real love!

Is it not true that, in Christ’s eyes, the lowly and obscure role can be equally as glorious as a life of fame and renown among men? I think that it is because, when you really look at Christ’s life, this is the role that He assigned to Himself. And this is precisely why Mary is so exalted by the Church. God works most efficiently through those who have emptied themselves of all forms of self and who have made themselves most receptive to His wishes. Here is the real power of prayer. It is not so much in overcoming God’s Will as it is in conforming to His will and taking hold of God’s willingness. If we can only discover what He wants us to do for Him then nothing on earth can stop the power that is released by acting as His agent to carry out His intentions through us.

So, dear mother mine, pray for me that God will grant me the grace and the silence, the detachment from the world, myself and all things that stand between Him and this vessel of clay that I am, so that I may hear His whispers in the silence of my heart and do His will in this life. Pray that I be a humble priest, a quiet priest, a loving priest, a compassionate priest – a Christ-like priest. Do not wish me honors or power or glory in this world – rather wish me the Cross, sacrifice, obscurity; remembering what was said in “Mr. Blue”: “Christ gives the Cross to His friends!”

“For the greatest things are accomplished in silence – not in the clamor and display of superficial eventfulness, but in the deep charity of inner vision; in the almost imperceptible start of decision, in quiet overcoming and hidden sacrifice.”

All my love, Charlie

May God forgive me my many impurities while keeping this ideal ever before my eyes.