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Catholic Discipline

On the feast of St. Thomas Aquinas, the reading for Morning Prayer that comes from the Common of Doctors of the Church reads:

Simply, I learned about wisdom, and ungrudgingly do I share – her riches I do not hide away. For men, she is an unfailing treasure; those who gain this treasure win the friendship of God, to whom the gifts they have from discipline commend them.”

Wisdom 7:13-14

When I graduated from undergrad, my father and I had a conversation about this idea of discipline. He congratulated me like all good fathers would, but as he did, I watched his memories through his eyes. He glanced back to my childhood and fast-forwarded to that present moment as an adult, and an epiphany of sorts crescendoed in his pupils.

He said, “I guess all of that basketball paid off.”

I was confused. Sure, I had played collegiate basketball, but I stopped after knee injuries made it impossible to play during my junior year. I hadn’t played in two years. Now, here I was, earning an academic milestone, not an athletic one, and he was thankful for my basketball playing days?

He read my confusion and swiftly answered my inaudible question, “Discipline. Basketball taught you how to work hard, how to make that work a routine, and how to follow through with consistency, even if that meant sacrifice.”

I had never thought about that. He was right, though – basketball was my life for some time. It gave me the blueprint for success in any venture I would pursue, even after basketball was no longer an option.

As life pressed on, I came into contact with many souls both as a missionary and teacher. I met those whose lives became a sum of their failures and others who floated upon the clouds in dreamlike success. What did they both have in common?


Those who struggled were being disciplined by life. Those who succeeded had already established the routine of discipline.

Spiritually, this was the most exhilarating realization one can ever make. For some, we wallow in the guilt of our sins, and our conscience razzes us into establishing a life geared toward the will of God. For others, like the Saints, we’ve managed to instill into our lives those “gifts they have from discipline,” the spiritual fruits that our practice of virtue produces.

Inevitably, we are destined to attain the friendship of God. But friendships aren’t made due to convenience – they take time, sacrifice, and, you guessed it, discipline.

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