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Wednesday, April 24, 2019

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True happiness depends upon self-discipline, determination and effort

True happiness depends upon self-discipline, determination and effort

As of July 1, I will be retiring as pastor at St. Joseph Church in Chauvin. I have had three great years in the parish and I will still be a parishioner at St. Joe.

I will continue to be active – filling in for various priests in the area, writing this column and columns for the Bayou Catholic, appearing regularly on the self-help program on Htv10, and singing at Nursing Homes.

The first thing I want to do is to take care of my health. I need to get back into shape so I can enjoy my retirement years. To do this I need a lot of self-discipline. We all need self-discipline so I am going to devote this column to that purpose.

Our society has a big problem with “delayed gratification.” We want things right now. We don’t want to wait.

James “Jesse” Owens (1913-1980), a four-time Olympic gold medalist in the 1936 Games, once said, “We all have dreams. But in order to make dreams come into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline, and effort.”

How true.

Many people do not want to put up with the effort. They want life handed to them of a silver platter. Well, it does not work that way. There’s an old saying, “Anything worthwhile is worth working for.” That includes marriage, relationships, families, jobs, our health, our spiritual life.

Author Gary Ryan Blair reminds us, “Self-discipline is an act of cultivation. It requires you to connect today’s actions to tomorrow’s results. There’s a season for sowing a season for reaping. Self-discipline helps you know which is which.”

What we get out of life depends on what we put into life. We reap what we sow, good or bad.

The notion of self-discipline has been around for a long time. The Classical Greek philosopher Plato (424-348 BC) reminded us, “For a person to conquer oneself is the first and noblest of all victories.”

When we baptize people, we anoint them as a Priest, Prophet and King or Queen. Priests mediate between God and us, Prophets speak for God, and a King or Queen rules. If you cannot rule yourself, you are no good for anyone else.

Napoleon Hill, (1883-1970) the American self-help author, tells us, “If you do not conquer self, you will be conquered by self.”

Dennis Prager, a nationally syndicated radio talk show host, columnist, author, and public speaker, reminds us what it takes to be happy. “Happiness is dependent on self-discipline. We are the biggest obstacles to our own happiness. It is much easier to do battle with society and with others than to fight our own nature.”

Henri Nouwen (1932-1996), Dutch Catholic writer and theologian, ties discipline with discipleship. “Discipline is the other side of discipleship. Discipleship without discipline is like waiting to run in the marathon without ever practicing. Discipline without discipleship is like always practicing for the marathon but never participating.

“It is important, however, to realize that discipline in the spiritual life is different from discipline in sports. Discipline in sports is the concentrated effort to master the body so that it can obey the mind better. Discipline in the spiritual life is the concentrated effort to create the space and time where God can become our master and where we can respond freely to God’s guidance.

“Thus, discipline is the creation of boundaries that keep time and space open for God. Solitude requires discipline, worship requires discipline, caring for others requires discipline. They all ask us to set apart a time and a place where we can acknowledge and respond to God’s gracious presence.”

Finally, Bum Phillips, the former Saints’ coach said, “The only discipline that lasts is self-discipline.”