My parents once told me something remarkable.

At the age of 9, I came to them with a question. “When I am angry, I know that I cannot hurt someone else. But if I need to be angry, can’t I hit my pillow?”

“No,” they said to me, eyes full of wisdom and the Holy Spirit, “when you are angry, you must not hit anything.”

This puzzled me for years to come. I could not image the harm in exercising my flights of passion upon something immaterial, something that could not feel or cry. But my parents knew the truth.

The soul of man does not seem to be a permanent thing. It is volatile and dynamic. It can learn to lie or to give a man a cup of water. Repeated action will solidify the countenance. This is how grown men can act like children or children can exhibit a very grown-up sense of virtue. Our bodies are just a mask to this truth.

Prof. Jack told us in The Weight of Glory:

“There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilisations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendours.”

I, as an individual, know this as anyone does. So do you. Those tiny choices we make, they are not without consequence. They build a monument that will stand throughout eternity. This is the gift of free will.

When my parents told me not to hit pillows, what they knew was, “You must learn to take blows and not return blows. You must learn to love and not hate. To let the fire of your anger burn patience into your soul.”

So, I try not to hit pillows.

Mumford and Sons make music. Here’s some:


I was always one

to be swallowed by the hurricane

rather than hear it ravage the world

outside thin walls.

I hope my words find you well and near our Lord.