The night before he was ordained, St. Maximilian Kolbe, OFM, made a retreat and wrote this bullet-point plan for his life. While written for the life of a friar, I think the virtues it extolls could very easily be applied to any one of us.
April 27, 1918
-Follow very faithfully the timetable of each day, and you will be safe.
-This very day begin to serve God.
-It may be that this is the last day of your life.
-Live it as if it were, indeed, the last day.
-Tomorrow is uncertain, yesterday is no longer yours. Only the present belongs to you.
-There is an ear which hears all, an eye which scrutinizes all the movements of the heart, a hand which takes note of all.
-Not being punished is the most terrible chastisement of all.
-“If you want to avoid judgment, stop passing judgment.” (Mt 7:1)
-St. Francis de Sales: ‘Fidelity in observing the rule is the sacrifice God prefers above all others; it is a mortification and a penance.’
-Love the most Blessed Virgin very deeply.
-Every action you perform will remain forever.
-Choose the least desirable things in food, clothes, tasks, and you will be dear to Jesus.
-The souls in Purgatory. Pray and work for sinners, for Holy Church.
-Make up by your fervor, for the time you have lost.
-Be a man, a Christian, a Religious.
-Be a man:
…-Don’t blush for your convictions
…-Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
…-Have a sense of duty, fulfill it well, without being concerned whether anyone is watching you. Act instead with a noble ambition.
…-Don’t worry about the evil in others.
-Be a Catholic:
…-When you kneel before an altar, do it in such a way that others may be able to recognize that you know before whom you kneel.
-Be a Religious:
…-A good intention in work is like the number ’1′ in front of a lot of zeroes.
…-Men deprive themselves of great treasures when they work without a good intention.
…-As you arise in the morning, so you will be all day long.
…-Every action you do is noted down. Nothing will fail to be either rewarded or punished.
…-You might die this very day!
…-Be recollected; whoever pours himself out on exterior things quickly loses the graces he has acquired. A full jewel box is always kept closed.
……-Avoid all those words which can draw down on you glory, esteem, or the appreciation of others.
……-Let us listen unwillingly (without interest or reflection) and with interior reluctance to the words of those who praise or commend us. It is dangerous to listen to one’s own praise in the mouths of others. It makes one lose his good judgment. When others praise us let us keep our sins before our eyes. In this way we shall judge ourselves unworthy of any commendation, and consequently, we shall find an occasion for being ashamed of ourselves and for humbling ourselves.
……..-Rejoice when you hear others praised.
……..-Jealousy, attachment to one’s own glory, is a defeat.
……-Never do anything so that men may see and esteem you.
……..-Do everything perfectly, because you are working in God’s presence, for God and not for men. In every situation think more about loving than about working.
……-Don’t offer excuses when you make a mistake. Don’t cast the blame on others. Do not offend by sarcasm those who correct you. Do not renounce in advance your errors which someone is trying to point out to you.
……..-Practice for a long time and with zeal until you succeed in willing that your defects may not be hidden any longer, and until you learn how to rejoice when the others judge you imperfect. Do this to make up for your errors.
……..-When you are reproved unjustly, do not excuse yourself.
……-Cut short all thoughts of pride.
……-Consider every friar superior to yourself, and yourself the least of all. Recognize everyone as better than yourself, not only in your thoughts, but also in your external deportment.
……..-If you consider another superior to yourself, then:
…………-You will converse with him more calmly.
…………-You will never insult him in words, nor do anything to displease him; you will not suspect him.
…………-It will be easy for you to accept a harsh or disrespectful word from him.
……-Willingly accept every opportunity for humbling yourself. Don’t be offended at:
……..-A harsh word.
……..-An imperious tone of voice.
……..-Not being respected as much as you would like to be.
…………-Welcome occasions of being disregarded and humiliated, first with patience, then willingly, without raising any difficulties and finally with joy. That will be perfect humility.
……-Make acts of humility (as also of the other virtues on which you are in your interior examining yourself), beginning with a rather small number of them; then increase these continually, and make more and more progress. This, in fact, is how one acquires a good habit and makes it grow strong.
………-Humility is the foundation of the virtues