The Habit of Orderliness

Dear Families,

I am fairly confident that anyone who knows too much about me and my personal quirks would speculate that this month's virtue is a favorite of mine. If so, you are on to something. My wife and children would attest to it as well; as soon as I get home, I morph into a drill sergeant of sorts summoning the children to pick up after themselves. I do not purport to enjoy this part of my personality, because if it becomes disordered in any way it can be destructive. There is a right and a wrong way to politely ask someone to pick up and prepare their own belongings.

Orderliness is the habit of balancing duties to self, others, and God, and living in such a manner that it becomes evident to God that we appreciate what it does for us.  I think my mom may have said something to me along the lines of, "A clean house is a happy house." Maybe this is why it remains so attractive to me.

This virtue is related to the cardinal virtue of temperance. Temperance is the moral virtue that moderates the attraction of pleasures and provides balance in the use of created goods (CCC, 1838).

The Education in Virtue program characterizes temperance and its related virtues like this: To live well is nothing other than to love God with all one's heart, with all one's soul and with all one's efforts; from this it comes about that love is kept whole and uncorrupted (through temperance). No misfortune can disturb it.

An orderly lifestyle reflects the very nature of God, and since we are created in his image and likeness, we are made for order. We certainly are not made for disorder. I think anyone would find it entirely implausible to accept that chaos and confusion are preferred to balance and clarity.

Orderliness brings clarity and fortifies our habits to withstand the inevitable chaos that besets us. Plans do not go as intended and interactions with others may go sideways, but an intentional order to everyday existence is what keeps us moving on to the next day.

Best of all: No misfortune can disturb it. 

Doing the little things is what keeps us from letting a big thing derail us off our tracks. If I am not mistaken, even secular psychology sees this: people help themselves the most when they focus on doing the next little thing right. The grace of God is needed however to really put this into action, which we receive in the sacraments.

I now supervise a second period study hall that is full of junior high students. Any teacher or parent knows what they want to do the most, that is, go to the bathroom. Only one student can leave at a time, and the student always has to say, "May I please go to the bathroom?" I will stare at the student until the question is formulated correctly. This has been going on since December. Yes, it is a little ridiculous, but this is what orderliness looks like to me.  Little things add up to big things which order us to God. That looks like simple math to me.

Most sincerely in Christ,

Derek Tremblay