By: Colette Whitmore
"A glad heart maketh a cheerful countenance; but by grief of mind the spirit is cast down." Proverbs 15:13
I have been reading a simply lovely book lately, A Bedside Book of Saints by Aloysius Roche. It is a book about Saints unlike any I have read previously. It is not so much a history as a description of characteristics of the saints that run counter to popular beliefs, i.e. it would be difficult to live with a saint, all that piety must be dreary, etc. I came across this passage here last night and wanted to share:
"The Mirror of Perfection says of St. Francis of Assisi: 'His highest and chiefest study was to maintain both outwardly and inwardly a spiritual cheerfulness.' Perhaps we have not understood this sufficiently--that good cheer is a knack, an art in fact, and the result of much planning and contriving.
People say: 'You are either cheerful or you are not; and that is the end of the matter' But of course, the same sort of people also say: 'You either love or you do not and that is the end of the matter.' Some effort must be made to preserve cheerfulness as to preserve friendship and love. Love commonly dies of sheer and willful neglect; we guard it with less care than we guard our trinkets and silver spoons.
And although children are cheerful by nature and by accident, we adults are not. Good cheer flows through the little one like blood through its veins; but it is far otherwise with us who have said good-bye to illusions and whose blood and veins are not what they were. Beauty may be able to look after herself but not cheerfulness."
This is not a concept I have thought that much about. I have known for a long time that the disposition of Mommy directly impacts the disposition of everyone in the home. Knowing this doesn't always translate to me being cheerful when I don't feel like it. It is so much easier to blame the weather, the bad night's sleep, the recalcitrant children, genetic makeup--which ever-- for my seeming lack of cheer.
What a concept that cheerfulness is something you have to work to attain, not a personality trait you were born with or without. I'm sure there are people who are more prone to be cheerful than others-- I don't think I am one of them! I am not prone to depression or melancholy though which is the direct opposite. I guess I am one who sits in the middle of the cheery boat. I love cheerful things: colors, books, movies etc and try to stay away from the dreary, ugly and depressing. *digression: why are so many of the so called "best" books and movies so darn depressing??* So I guess working on a cheerful disposition to go with my cheerful preferences is what is in order here.
The one point I don't necessarily agree with the author is the remark about beauty taking care of itself.... maybe before the age of makeup and curling irons....
Have a cheerful day!
From the Preface:
“If there is to be a Bedside Book of Saints at all, then it ought to be made to look the part; its pattern may well be that of the old-fashioned quilt - a thing of threads and patches.”
Listen to St. Jerome, one of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church: “Let holy reading be always at hand. Sleep may fall upon thee as thou lookest thereon, and the sacred page meet the drooping face.”
So, these odds and ends have been sewn together without too much study and with very little plan, in the hope that they may be of service to an invalid here and there, and to those whose bad habit is to read themselves to sleep.
Impr 1934. 145 pages.