Short Features

Common Days

One of the chief dangers of life is trusting occasions. We think that conspicuous events, striking experiences, exalted moments have most to do with our character and capacity. We are wrong. Common days, monotonous hours, wearisome paths, plain old tools, and everyday clothes tell the real story. Good habits are not made on birthdays, nor Christian character at the new year. The vision may dawn, the dream may waken, the heart may leap with a new inspiration on some mountaintop, but the test, the triumph, is at the foot of the mountain, on the level plain.

The workshop of character is everyday life. The uneventful and commonplace hour is where the battle is won or lost. Thank God for a new truth, a beautiful idea, a glowing experience; but remember that unless we bring it down to the ground and teach it to walk with feet, work with hands, and stand the strain of daily life, we have worse than lost it, we have been hurt by it. A new light in our heart makes an occasion; but an occasion is an opportunity, not for building a tabernacle and feeling thankful and looking back to a blessed memory, but for shedding the new light on the old path, and doing old duties with new inspiration. The uncommon life is the child of the common day, lived in an uncommon way.

—Most Holy Faith, p. 541

And finally...

Free Will

Free Will is bestowed on every human being. If one desires to turn towards the good way and be righteous, he has the power to do so. If one wishes to turn towards the evil way and be wicked, he is at liberty to do so. … Man, of himself and by the exercise of his own intelligence and reason, knows what is good and what is evil, and there is none who can prevent him from doing that which is good or that which is evil. … Accordingly it follows that it is the sinner who has inflicted injury on himself; and he should weep for, and bewail what he has done to his soul—how he has mistreated it.

If God had decreed that a person should be either righteous or wicked, … or if there were some force inherent in his nature which irresistibly drew him to a particular course, … how could the Almighty have charged us through the prophets: “Do this and do not do that, improve your ways, do not follow your wicked impulses,” when, from the beginning of his existence his destiny had already been decreed, or his innate constitution irresistibly drew him to that from which he could not set himself free? … By what right or justice could God punish the wicked or reward the righteous?

Maimonides, Mishneh Torah, Laws of Repentance

(Maimonides: Originally Moses Ben Maimon. 1135-1204. Spanish-born Jewish philosopher and physician. The greatest Jewish scholar of the Middle Ages.—American Heritage Electronic Dictionary)