On Overcoming Difficulties

January 8, 2015

by Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira  from the “Saint of Day,” November 14, 1987

 

Dr. Plinio

To live well, we must choose in life a noble and beautiful difficulty to overcome. We must desire to overcome that difficulty and prepare ourselves to do so. There is no other way. With this, life has a purpose.

Imagine a man of some means who could lead a very calm though dull life, but instead founds an institute for the blind who have been abandoned–an arduous thing; it is very difficult to support a house full of blind people. Actually, in general, doing good to others is difficult, because others often respond with a kick. Whoever counts on human gratitude counts on a chimera.

Perkins Institute for the Blind in Watertown, Massachusetts, is the oldest school for the blind in the United States. Founded in 1829 and named in honor of Colonel Thomas Handasyd Perkins, a shipping merchant who began losing his sight at the time of establishment. In 1833, the school outgrew the Pleasant Street house and Colonel Perkins donated his Pearl Street mansion as the school's second home. In 1839, Colonel Perkins sold the mansion, donating the proceeds, which allowed the purchase of a more spacious building in South Boston.

Perkins Institute for the Blind in Watertown, Massachusetts, is the oldest school for the blind in the United States. Founded in 1829 and named in honor of Colonel Thomas Handasyd Perkins, a shipping merchant who began losing his sight at the time of establishment. In 1833, the school outgrew the Pleasant Street house and Colonel Perkins donated his Pearl Street mansion as the school’s second home. In 1839, Colonel Perkins sold the mansion, donating the proceeds, which allowed the purchase of a more spacious building in South Boston.

So this man leads a hard life, but at the end of a day he can say: “Instead of these people being on the street, under a bridge, begging, being used as agents of sin, of crime, they are sleeping like good people, peacefully. Tomorrow a priest is coming to celebrate Mass for them. Most will receive Holy Communion; they are in the state of grace. They don’t feel despised by the world, but feel a hand guiding them in the darkness. I have lessened the suffering of these souls. I have received blows of ingratitude, but I have the joy of having done something difficult that makes sense. It was my duty in life to do it, and I did it.”

The Blind at Church 1896 Painting by Adolph Schlabitz.

The Blind at Church 1896 Painting by Adolph Schlabitz.

It is not easy to think this way, and the sluggard who hears me say it responds with a kick of revolt. I am giving him a difficult solution, and he does not want to accept that life is not for the lazy. Looking at me, he might think: “He was born with lots of energy! I’m a poor fellow: I was born lazy, so I can’t be blamed for how I am.”

I was born lazy too. I was a specimen of laziness in my childhood. I had to form myself. Therefore, my dear lazy sons who may be in this auditorium, take this as an incentive, as an encouragement.

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