Who hasn’t ever wished to have a magic wand or a fairy godmother to do our homework assignments, take that horrible test for us, or simply make our problems disappear? In the video we present today, an amusing little wooden doll makes all this possible… and yes, for a brief moment makes us belief in the illusion of an easy life, without effort (let alone, sacrifice).
In the animation, we see a girl who falls asleep while she is doing her homework. Suddenly, a doll on the desk comes to life and finishes the girl’s homework. When the girl awakes, surprised yet happy to find that her homework is finished, she heads to school. When she comes back home, she is even happier because she got a good grade despite not having worked for it. Naturally, from that moment she decides to give all her assignments to her wooden ally.
What our protagonist doesn’t imagine is that every decision to give up what’s right in order to succumb to laziness and carelessness, carries consequences. We see with amazement how this little doll grows bigger and bigger, but the girl doesn’t seem to notice. She is blinded by the immediate sweet fruits she gets: good grades earned without effort and more free time to play video games. She has what she wants, so who cares if this “ally” grows bigger and takes up more and more space in her room and her life?
Let’s stop for a moment to think a little bit about our own life. Maybe we don’t have little wooden dolls that take our place and relieve us from putting forth the effort and dedication that our responsibilities require, but let’s check if we really haven’t allowed certain things, that aren’t necessarily bad, like Facebook, Instagram, social media, or mere laziness, take our time and attention. Just like in the video, it all starts with a conscious decision. Let’s think: “It’s just for this time, just for today, a little while,” but the truth is that as we become more permissive with ourselves, these forms of procrastination start turning into vices that break our will and turn us, in the best of cases, into mediocre people.
From far away we hear the echo of God’s words to Joshua: “Do not let this book of the law depart from your lips. Recite it by day and by night, that you may carefully observe all that is written in it; then you will attain your goal; then you will succeed” (Josh. 1:8). Thus, in the spiritual realm, the danger of a lack of effort and sacrifice is losing sight of our ultimate vocation as Christians: sainthood. To be Christian, as the word suggests, means to be like Christ. A mediocre Christian is, therefore, an oxymoron.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC 2472) explains it like this:
“The duty of Christians to take part in the life of the Church impels them to act as witnesses of the Gospel and of the obligations that flow from it. This witness is a transmission of the faith in words and deeds. Witness is an act of justice that establishes the truth or makes it known.
“All Christians by the example of their lives and the witness of their word, wherever they live, have an obligation to manifest the new man which they have put on in Baptism and to reveal the power of the Holy Spirit by whom they were strengthened at Confirmation.”
Evidently, living a life that is coherent with our faith requires sacrifice and an honest intention to carry it out. Our strength will come from the Sacraments, from a daily search for God, from setting a time for prayer, and from all the spiritual graces that come from these. Don’t forget that: “Outward sacrifice, to be genuine, must be the expression of spiritual sacrifice” (CCC 2100). It’s necessary to make this clear since, even if we are able to reach excellence in our academic, professional, personal, etc. lives, through natural sacrifice, it will not be enough to be good Christians.
“‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice” (Mt 9: 13). Bernardo Hurault, priest and academic, comments on this, that: “Man regrets his mistakes, but if his sincerity is not such that it takes him away from his sin, he will only try to please God by offering Him some sacrifices, but this is far from the true love that can be proven with obedience. Man thus prefers to offer costly sacrifices that he himself chooses, instead of obeying what God was asking of him.”
Returning back to our video, it has a somewhat dark ending. The laziness and idleness of the protagonist have let the little wooden doll take so much control of the situation that it has gradually become a real girl. Not only that, but in contrast, the protagonist turns into a wooden doll. It was inevitable that the protagonist, by giving up her life’s responsibilities, would lose her dignity and her personhood. Similarly, we, by shirking our responsibility to grow as persons, turn into wooden dolls without personality or convictions, “dolls” that will believe in any ideology and will submit to any unjust government. Dolls without solid values or without the courage to defend them…
To conclude, I would like to emphasize the vocation to perfection in our spiritual life, that we have as Christians. In the end, if we stick to it, this pursuit will bring — as a consequence — excellence to all our activities, since God demands from us coherence, which is also a form of integrity. As I said above, it’s difficult to imagine a Christian who has a phobia of putting forth effort, who consciously prefers to give up and stay idle. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be honoring our responsibility to give testimony and preach Our Lord in our daily life. Clearly, this requires effort and sacrifice, which are more fruitful and constant when we do them for the love of God. This is why, as an extra bonus, since we are all together in this battle, we would like to share with you some advice from Saint Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer, taken from his books The Way (15-18) and The Forge (421):
– Don’t put off your work until tomorrow.
– Without a plan of life you will never have order.
– If you don’t get up at a fixed time you will never carry out your plan of life.
– Virtue without order? Strange virtue!
– When you bring order into your life your time will multiply, and then you will be able to give God more glory, by working more in his service.
– A resolution: to be faithful to my timetable — heroically faithful and without excuses — on ordinary days and on extraordinary days.
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