CURIOSITY is a defect that seems to be particularly inherent to the heart of woman, and which, when not properly governed, never fails to entail the most disastrous consequences. Through it they have frequently acquired a knowledge of evil and a disgust for virtue. You are well aware that curiosity was the door through which sin and death enter the world; that when the devil sought our destruction he made use of woman's curiosity. Now, it is well not to lose sight of the fact that woman is always the daughter of Eve. She feels a pressing desire to see what pleases the mind, flatters the senses, and enlivens the imagination. Eager for vivid emotions, she seeks them with an insatiable avidity; and, rather than feel nothing, she prefers painful emotions, finding a certain secret charm even in the fits of sorrow and pains of her imagination. Her great desire to see and hear whatever tends to excite or create emotion is in a great measure the source of her curiosity. The education that women for the most part receive develops this disposition of the heart: an education which, instead of elevating the mind and giving it a taste for serious things, narrows it, and accustoms it to feed upon aliments that are trivial and void of consistency. The mind requires to he kept in constant activity, and since thoughts alone can do this they should be such as to amply furnish it with solid and wholesome food, for all kinds of thoughts are not equally good for it, no more than all kinds of food are equally good for the body. In some kinds of food the quantity and quality of nutriment are much inferior to what they are found to be in other kinds. Hence greater moderation is required in the use of the latter than in that of the former, otherwise the stomach, overcharged, would soon become disgusted with it.

On the other hand, no quantity of food void of nutritious qualities will ever appease hunger. The same thing may be said of the kind of thoughts with which the mind is fed; some are used less for their sound and wholesome nutriment than for their efficiency to flatter sensuality, inflame the passions, create new wants in the heart, and excite a depraved curiosity. Under this regime the mind is starved and tortured by an incessant hunger. It sadly languishes and pines in the grip of famine; and all this in the midst of full and plenty, but this abundance contains no nutriment, it is made up of news, whether true or false, which amuses without satiating; still the mind enlists the service of the senses to gather it up from all sides. The eyes, continually gaping and watching what passes before them, present the mind with numberless images to amuse it in its weary or lonesome moments.

Hence that insatiable thirst to see and observe every thing, that inconstancy and want of changing from one place to another, that desire to read useless and frivolous books, novels, weeklies and magazines, which for the most part enervate the mind by their futilities, trouble and darken it by a multitude of incoherent images and contradictory thoughts, and poison the heart by foul and filthy images that will constantly torment the soul.

The ears are on the alert to catch every report, every murmur, all kinds of news, detractions and calumnies, stories and scandals. I say all kinds of news, no -- I make a mistake, it is only such news as is of an exciting or startling nature to break up the monotony of life. Hence those indiscreet questions which provoke answers more indiscreet still; those rash revelations made by thoughtless young ladies, those prying efforts to discover things which only exist perhaps in their own imagination, and of which they should live in holy ignorance.

Hence those long conversations, discussing the vices and evil doings of others, in which justice and charity are discarded, and iniquity drank like water. Few forego the criminal satisfaction of participating in those detestable conversations, and fewer still, alas! reproach themselves at night for the detractions and calumnies committed, permitted, or provoked during the day, and by a monstrous union they couple with those deeds the external practices of piety.

This is but a feeble picture of the frightful condition of a mind starved for want of solid and wholesome food, and poisoned by the empty frothings of vanity and passion. Curiosity is the constant companion of this mediocrity of the mind and poverty of the heart. In order to avoid this fatal rock, no pains should be spared, and if, unfortunately, you have already drank at its poisoned sources, hasten to use every available means to arrest its ravages. To insure success, do not amuse yourself with lopping off the branches of the evil, allowing the root to remain, do at once what is essential: feed your mind and heart with a genuine love for the true and beautiful.

A frivolous woman is invariably curious, and a curious woman always finishes by becoming the dupe and victim of her curiosity. To overcome an inordinate love for sights and news you must accustom the mind's eye to feast on the panoramic beauties of nature, and confine yourself to the company of persons of your own age, in whom you remark an elevated mind and heart, -- lovers of what is truly good and grand.

Curiosity has its source, also, in another defect which becomes daily more and more prevalent -- it is a want of forethought and reflection, arising from a volatile and frivolous mind. Few, indeed, are lovers of the interior life; all seem to be bent on parading the mind and heart, the imagination and senses. Now, when man has not learned the art of living and conversing with himself, he becomes wearisome and sometimes dangerous to himself when alone; because the mind, not knowing how to occupy itself, and not finding in its own resources the thoughts that elevate and nourish it, is obliged, in order to avoid lonesomeness, to dwell upon images which at least distract and weaken it, and not unfrequently disturb the peace of the heart.

Religion, always inspired by God in the choice and formation of the terms which it employs to convey the ideas that it wishes to impress upon the heart, has invented two words, which admirably express the meaning of the concentration of the faculties of the soul, -- in other words, that society or cohabitation of man with himself -- they are self-composure and recollection.

These words express that state or power of the will by which it holds complete control over all the faculties of the soul; so that sensibility can have no command over any of their operations. Thus shielded from this turbulent disturber they are enabled to labor peacefully and efficiently in their interior province or the soul.

The advantages secured by interior recollection are so great and the consequence of its absence so prejudicial that the Holy Ghost distinctly declares its absence to be the cause of all the evils that desolate the earth. "With desolation is the earth laid desolate because there is no one who thinketh in his heart." This is a terrible truth, but it is not the less real on that account. To be convinced of this you need only descend into your own heart, and you will soon discover that the want of interior recollection has been the cause of the most of your faults. It is during the interior composure of the soul's faculties that we understand what the Lord says. I will hear what the Lord God will speak in me, for he will speak peace unto them that are converted to the heart. (Psalm 84.)

But if we find nothing in the heart but trouble and obscurity we must naturally find many pretexts to justify our preoccupation with external things; and like a man, finding his house the abode of pain and displeasure, remains away from it as long as possible, we, too, will shun as far as possible the scene of our misery. It is, therefore, of most vital importance for you to form in your own heart an agreeable and useful society with which you can always converse. This society you carry with you wherever you go, for you are with yourself at all times; and since you have not always the satisfaction to enjoy the company of others you should learn how to turn to good account this privation by making it an incentive to cultivate with industry an agreeable society in your own heart; and the best way to insure the success of this work is to accustom yourself to converse with God who is always present in your heart, except when you expel him by mortal sin.

The work itself must be made up of pious readings, meditation and prayer, which will furnish you with such thoughts and affections as will prove to be constant friends in pain as in joy; hasten to amass these honeyed treasures during the noon-tide of life; for the winter will soon come upon you, the flowers of life shall lose their perfume and their withered corolla shall be strewn on the ground. Then you will not have time to enrich the soul with the longed-for booty when you will be reduced to the miserable condition of those women who endeavor to conceal the poverty of their mind and heart by a foolish and puerile deception.

chapter xvi desire to please
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