Our Personal Challenge

Father Chet, February 1, 1969

Each of us should feel a very personal challenge to do all in our power to meet the needs of the times. No matter how small I feel myself to be, I am called by God to do something worthwhile to help the world of today attain the fullness of maturity destined for it. Regardless of my education or lack thereof, regardless of the lack of specialization, or past training, or my present situation, I can make a real contribution to the total growth of our modern world.

What I have done in the past, what I do now, and what I do in the future influences humankind for better or worse. For those who have no direct contact with me, my influence may be slight; but it is still present. Only God knows whether my neglected virtues would have been the straw of influence that could have changed their lives – from bad to good. Certainly, my influence for good, or for ill, is great upon those people with whom I associate in the course of my daily life. I owe them, as well as God and myself, the very best effort I can give to the perfection of my life.

Apart from the influence my external behavior has on others, the particular maturity of my inner world also influences them. The pulsations of my unconscious extend out over the world like ripples from a stone dropped in the middle of a lake. The bonds that unite the human race extend from me until the whole world is enveloped. Regardless of whether or not I realize and intend it, by being alive and existing, I exert an influence upon others.

Never must I allow myself to fall into the mistake of imagining that I am unimportant or that what I do has little or no effect upon others. Others may be more important, but I have a definite place assigned to me by Almighty God from all eternity. If I fail to accomplish my particular tasks, a certain part of the fabric of the whole world’s perfection will be lost. Others depend upon me, and they will not be able to do a good job in their vocation unless I do a good job in mine.

I must work in three spheres of life: (1) the external world of humankind; (2) the world of my intellect, will, and other conscious faculties; and (3) the inner world of my unconscious. All are important, but the area where I will do the most good for God and others is down deep in my heart where the basic attitudes which govern my exterior conduct and influence others are formed. In the outer world, my efforts are frequently thwarted by a lack of cooperation from others or by causes beyond my control. It is only in my inner world that I am able to be truly the master of my destiny.  People may imprison me or hamper me so that I have no external freedom to do apparent good; however, no one can enter my soul-castle and destroy my inner freedom unless I open the door and allow that person to enter. Even God respects the privacy of the inner chambers of my soul. This is the real meaning of freedom.  I am truly responsible for the conduct of my inner life. If I choose, I can cut off my inner world from God, from my brothers and sisters, and even from my own final goal in life. The result will be that terrible loneliness we call “hell.” On the other hand, if I can open my heart and soul to God, my fellow human beings, and the responsibilities I have to them, the result will be a profound influence for good upon others as well as a beautiful growth in my own perfection.

In the microcosm of my inner heart, the whole outer world in some way lives.  Without spending so much time worrying about what others are doing, I must convert this inner world of mine into the likeness of Jesus Christ. First of all, I should experience a dissatisfaction with my present state. Rather than allow myself to grow comfortable in my mediocrity, I must take time to see the lack of perfection in my inner world. When I see all the work to be done, I will be spared the temptation of imagining that I have already done enough. On the other hand, I must not be discouraged and overwhelmed by the seemingly gigantic size of the tasks facing me. “I can do all things in God who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13).

The converse of of my inner heart is primarily a matter of transforming my attitudes toward God, myself, my fellow human beings, and the physical world. I must try to see persons and things as God sees them. I can do this if I meditate frequently upon Jesus Christ and learn from his words and actions what attitudes of mine need to be changed or developed. I must understand where I have been guilty of the worship of alien gods: the false gods of pleasure, money, power, and pride. I must have as clear a knowledge as possible of the final goal to which God has called me. I must try to discover what steps to take to bring myself and the rest of humankind from where we are now to where we should be.

Besides this knowledge, I must desire the highest possible perfection for myself and others. No one can attain maturity without intense desires for wholeness and perfection. My desire to grow in maturity must be so deep and great that I will pay any price to attain it. My desires, also, should persist throughout my life, regardless of how often I fail or make mistakes. It is always possible to start late in life to reach our goals; but the later we start, the greater desire and effort we need. However, I must not be discouraged.  With the help of God’s grace, I must go on.

Besides knowledge and desire, I must make a total commitment of my life and energy to the pursuit of perfection. God never asks the impossible, but God does ask that I cooperate with his will to the best of my ability. The more generous my cooperation, the better chance I have of attaining my goal. However, God’s mercy is so great that there is always hope for me as long as I take whatever energy and equipment I possess and use them to the best possible advantage. In addition, I must be humble enough to seek help from others who can assist me in becoming more mature.

My dedication to duty will show itself in the efforts I make to attain as complete a mastery over myself as is possible. Through self-denial and a total sacrifice of selfishness and egotism, I must learn to control all my faculties. I need this self- possession to make a total gift of my life and being to God. This self-control, which is so essential to my growth, will be attained only by a lifetime of self-discipline. One by one, I must uncover my talents, energies, and the powers of my inner world. These forces must be brought to the surface of consciousness, trained, and then put to work for the good of everyone: God, humankind, my own maturity, and the perfection of the physical universe.

In this work of conversion and growth, I must keep good order and balance. Wholeness and perfection are never found in disorder but in a certain tranquility of order where there is a place for everything. and everything is in its place. This does not mean an absence of conflict and struggle, but rather, they should be orderly changes and motivated by the all-consuming desire to attain an ever-higher order and balance in my life. As long as I live, I must never be satisfied with my present state of affairs. Always my motto must be “excelsior” – to climb ever higher and higher toward the distant and lofty peak of maturity, perfection, love and unity.

These messages from Father Chet are his original writing and reflect his thoughts, insights and wisdom. While there may be some edits for clarity and/or intention, his meaning remains intact — and timeless.