1. There may have been in our past lives periods of spiritual confusion and unrest which left their mark upon us. There may have been moments of human weakness when we yielded to the attractions of sin and fell miserably.
On these occasions we have only to humble ourselves in the presence of God, to be sorry for our lapses, to ask Jesus for forgiveness, and to resolve with the help of God’s grace never to sin again. In this way we can regain our peace of mind.
Sometimes, too, we are discouraged by severe suffering or by humiliation. In these cases the remedy is the same. We must humble ourselves before God and remember that we deserve even greater punishment for our sins. If we accept suffering and sorrow in a Christian manner, they purify us and bring us nearer to God.
There are other occasions when we are deeply hurt by our fellow-men, sometimes because of incompatibility of temperament, sometimes because of mutual misunderstanding in difficult situations. In such cases humility and gentleness are also helpful. Virtue cannot solve all of life’s problems, but it can bring us nearer to solving many of them. We shall still have to put up with a great deal in our relations with others, but humility and understanding can eventually unravel even the most intricate knots. The practice of these virtues will gain merit for us in the sight of God and will enable us to live in harmony with our neighbour.
2. When a serious misunderstanding arises between our neighbour and ourselves, we must be calm as well as humble. We should never lose our self-control nor let anger or pride disturb our peace of mind. To do so would gain nothing for us and would lead to strained relations with our neighbour. When we are wounded or irritated, the only course is to remain silent, no matter how difficult we may find it to keep quiet. After a while we shall regain our composure and shall be able to discuss in friendly way the cause of our irritation. If we observe this rule, we shall be able to solve many big problems and shall find it easier to become holy.
3. There is another useful rule which we should observe when we have some difference of opinion with our neighbour, and that is the rule of practical Christian conduct.
It is useless and harmful to fly into a passion and to brood over our rights and other people’s wrongs. Such conduct can solve nothing. It is far better to look calmly for the most practical way in which to arrive at a just and charitable situation. Usually there is a certain amount of right on both sides. A calm and practical discussion is necessary if we are to find the best solution to our problem. A constructive and unprejudiced approach to differences of opinion is helpful to us in our quest for perfection and can solve many problems with which agitated minds would find it impossible to cope.