As soon as I started Chapter One, I was hooked. There are a small number of books I actually enjoy reading, and this is one of them because it basically explains how to be virtuous in a way that benefits us spiritually and secularly. It says on the front cover, “A guide to fortifying and rebuilding the natural foundation of manhood.” I would think a good translation would be, “A guide on how to be awesome,” as this is essentially what this book is. It encourages all things men should be doing, mentalities that men should be adopting, and ruthlessly destroys any forms of pathetic excuses men commonly use in their lives that is detrimental in not only their spiritual growth, but also their worldly growth.
The Young Man of Character is separated into three chapters, the third filling practically half of the book. The structure is very tight in making a short read of only 175 pages with a medium-sized font.
There are so many awesome messages in each chapter in this book. Below are my favourite quotes from each chapter and why they spoke to me. However, I’m sure there are other passages that will connect with other men based on their personal experiences.
Chapter One: “There are those who do not study and push forward because they are ‘humble,’ ‘content,’ and ‘modest.’ Not so fast! Cowardliness is not a virtue and laziness is not humility.”
I loved this passage because I have met men where you can feel this mentality radiating off of them. And also because I have friends who have been influenced (or at least tried to be) by others with this lie. No. Achieving is harder and much more beneficial to one’s character than doing nothing for the sake of false humility and modesty.
Chapter Two: “…a beautiful teaching of Our Lord Jesus Christ is that one is allowed to accumulate wealth in one hand only on condition that it is used for noble works of mercy. We do not have to be communists, we do not have to deny the legitimacy of private property to realize that the huge wealth that is often seen in this world could not have been accumulated by the efforts of a lone individual; that the extreme efforts of a multitude must have gone into it, and therefore it must be used for the common good.”
Even though I am not wealthy, I found this to be a good reminder of a proper, balanced perspective for those who are infected with non-Catholic views of capitalism (such as myself) and those who may be infected with views of communism/socialism (hopefully not many readers!).
Chapter Three: As this chapter entails half of the book, I shall quote various passages from this section.
There is a part: “consider that even the greatest of men had to struggle with so many difficulties, little faults, and even illnesses.”
And then it goes on to mention some of the funniest faults/difficulties I have ever heard of people suffering from!
- “Wallenstein ... the great military commander … he found it unbearable to listen to a rooster crowing.
- Cardinal Richelieu … the famous French statesmen, was terrified of squirrels.
- Pierre Bayle … a French Protestant philosopher, could not bear the sound of dripping water.”
And even though there are more, below is my personal favourite!
- “Scaliger … a French Protestant scholar, started trembling in his whole body when he saw milk.”
I mean, he may have had a bad experience with rotten milk in his childhood… but it’s still funny!
Back onto a more serious note, my overall favourite quote from the book has to be:
“There was a student who was consistently late ... he was never on time, ever … When he grew up, he was not of much use anywhere because he was always late. It is to be feared that he will miss heaven also. Not by much, of course, only by five minutes.”
In conclusion, I really think any young men above the age of 16 should read this. In fact, maybe not just young men – maybe men in general! It’s simply brilliant.