A Real Character

Father Basil Maturin

“All things, everything great and small, most ephemeral or most lasting, everything that compels men to work or dooms them to idleness, everything that calls out a moment's interest or lays the grasp upon the heart, all these things, whether men believe it or not, or even think of it, have one supreme, one eternal result: the making of character.”

These are the words of Fr. Basil Maturin. The Irishman was a convert to Catholicism, highly regarded for his ability to preach, to write, and to counsel souls with compassion, particularly students. In his early 20th Century classic, Christian Self-Mastery, Fr. Maturin reflected on how every event or experience in this life is intended to mold us to our true self. That is, if we abide by the universal principle: do what you believe right, avoid what you believe wrong. Regardless of your culture or creed, everyone must do what is good for himself. If he doesn't, then he will have a poor character and will be unhappy.

The Catholic priest didn't just write this theory, he lived it. On his return from the United States from preaching a Lenten mission, Fr. Maturin's ship, the Lusitania, was struck by a German U-Boat. When the priest's body was washed ashore, along with a thousand others, his was without a life vest. Survivors recounted that he was “standing on the deck very pale, but perfectly calm, giving absolution to several passengers. As the last boat was lowered he handed in a little child, saying, ‘Find its mother.’”

“Life is the school of character,” wrote Maturin. “We are placed here to be formed for eternity.” Fr. Basil did what he believed right. He had character. He enjoys now eternal happiness.

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