You may have heard of Louis L’Amour, one of the most successful fiction writers of all time. During his lifetime, he wrote 89 novels, 2 non-fiction books, and 14 collections of short stories. In all, over 320 million copies of his books have been sold worldwide. L’Amour died on June 10, 1988, at the age of 80. During his lifetime, he was widely known as “America’s Favorite Storyteller.”
L’Amour had several personal rules concerning writing, two of which were: (1) Action has to start on the first page; and (2) As soon as one book is done, write the first chapter of the next book before sending the completed book to the publisher. Both of these rules helped to provide the foundation for L’Amour’s success as a writer.
Have you ever heard the saying, “Success leaves clues”? L’Amour’s two rules provided clues for success for every endeavor. Here’s how L’Amour’s rules can be applied by those who wish to be successful Catholics:
Rule #1. Take Action Every Day
Just as L’Amour started every book with action, the devout Catholic should not end a day without taking action – the action of performing at least one corporal or spiritual work of mercy. The Church encourages us to practice the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. Each time you perform a work of mercy, you prove to God that you do, in fact, love your neighbor as yourself.
As a reminder, the corporal works of mercy are: feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, visit the sick, visit the imprisoned, and bury the dead. The spiritual works of mercy are: instruct the ignorant, counsel the doubtful, admonish the sinner, bear wrongs patiently, forgive offenses willingly, comfort the sorrowful, and pray for the living and the dead.
The only effective way to guarantee that you will consistently follow this “action rule” is to record each work of mercy you perform in a journal or calendar at the end of every day. To make consistent progress in anything, there must be ongoing measurement and documentation of progress. As an example, the only way I can lose weight is to weigh myself every day and record my weight on a calendar. That one act of daily documentation and measurement helps keep me focused on my objective. It also acts as a reminder that I have to watch what I eat, because I know that I’ll have to live with myself the next morning when I step on the scale.
Are you willing to commit to performing a work of mercy every day? If you are, then try going the extra mile by keeping a written record of your performance and progress.
Rule #2. Start Working On The Next Person Before You’re Finished With The Last One
Louis L’Amour never “finished” writing. As soon as he wrote “The End” on the last page of a book, he immediately started the first chapter of his next book.
My former mentor and spiritual advisor, Fr. John Hardon, said that all devout Catholics have a duty to always be working on converting at least one person to the Catholic faith (or working on bringing a lapsed Catholic back into the Church). Fr. Hardon had the same attitude as L’Amour. He believed that as soon as a devout Catholic succeeds in bringing one new person into the Church, he or she has the obligation to start working on the next person. To Fr. Hardon, the “job” of a attracting others into the Church was never done.
What percentage of Catholics follow the two rules that I just laid out for you? Probably no more than 1%.
How would you like to be among the top 1% of all Catholics in the eyes of God? I just handed you two “clues” you can follow to become the Catholic that God created you to be.
Harry, thank you once again for the inspirations!
I have a young PND senior working for us here at our Convent as one of the fulfillments of his Christian Service graduation requirements. The Guidelines are to follow the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy – [not just cutting the grass…etc]. He has been “looking” for ways to assist us when he is here. The other day he asked me if we’ve ever had anyone bring a dog to visit us! He has the right idea! But I am amused to think of the scenerio – here, where Sr. Mary and I are in and out – quite active, even though aging!! God bless him, PND and you! S Roberta
It’s good to hear that PND is not only teaching the works of mercy, but requiring the students to take action and put them into practice. I’m curious as to how many Catholic high schools in the country have this type of program. Probably not very many. Thanks for sharing your experience.