Thought for the Day – 22 March – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
“There is a theory that it is impossible to form character because, our character is and always will be, what nature has given us.
“Naturam expellas furca, tamen usque recurret” ( “You cast out nature with a pitchfork but only until such time, as it comes back again”) (Horace, Epistles 1 10:24).
Montaigne and Rousseau extended this idea of Horace, to the extent of holding, that it would be evil as well as superfluous, to attempt to shape character, which should be what nature intended it to be.
Although there is some little truth in this opinion, fundamentally, it is false.
It is true that nature cannot be suppressed but, it can be shaped and improved by a sound and well-directed education.
Our natural temperament can be compared to an uncultivated field, covered with weeds and bushes, or to a horse which is still untamed and unaccustomed to labour.
It abounds in hidden energies and unregulated instincts; it is dangerous to leave it to itself.
It would become as Dante puts it, “a large forest, wild and rough” (Inferno 1:5).
So, it is necessary for character to be formed under the guidance of a good teacher and subject to the wisdom and grace of God.”