You ever notice that doctors, lawyers, and musicians practice? In fact, many professions practice. Itzak Perlman, one of the World’s best violinists, practices 8 hours a day. He performs about 70 dates a year. I don’t know how often he records, but I think you get the picture. He says that, if he stopped practicing for a week, maybe 2 people in a full auditorium might notice. If he stopped practicing for a month, maybe 10 would notice. But you can see, practice is his real work. Performance is the result of the hard work.
Football players, professionals, practice 5 days a week to get ready for one 3-hour game.
In my profession, I spend hours and hours learning and training for the few minutes of ‘firefighting’. In a recent planned event, we rehearsed many, many times over a four month period just to make sure we could service our customers without them noticing any degradation of service. And whenever I plan to do something to a production system, I always practice it several times first, so that when it comes crunch time, the job gets done.
In the parable of the talents, Jesus tells us about the master who gave one servant 10 talents, another five, and another one, and when he came back, both the first and second had multiplied those talents, while the last one hid it under a bushel and protected it, giving it back, as is, when demanded.
What talents has God given you? Some people will say they have no talents. I used to be one of those. I don’t have any really special skills. I can write a little. I can manage and maintain some computer systems. I do a fair job proclaiming God’s Word, and now would like to further that talent. God, though, gives every one of us talents. It may not appear evident. But it’s there. You have an Intellect, you have a Will, and you have Memory.
Practice is what you do to keep your talents on the true path. When you don’t practice, your talents begin to fail. You get rusty, and rust corrodes. Faith is the same way. You have to practice it daily. If you don’t, it rusts. Things like world events, earthly desires, materialism, relativism, etc. creep in. Watch out, though. When you allow those things to creep in, they invade your memory. I’ve heard it said that viewing a pornographic image stays in your memory 10 years. I’d believe a lifetime. I used to be a consumer of porn, and every so often, it flowers again. I have ways, through God, to suppress it. But it does re-enter my mind, here and now.
So what can we take from this? Practice. Practice. Practice. And practice some more. Strive to be near our Lord. Trust His Wisdom. Pray, go to Mass, Pray, study your faith, pray, and pray some more. Act like being near to the Lord is the only place you ever want to be. Make an appointment to spend time with Him, and be vigilant, as our friend Itzhak is vigilant with his violin practice.
Michael Jordan, at one time, could not make his high school basketball team. He asked the coach why he was cut, and was told that the coach wanted someone with a better free-throw percentage. So Michael Jordan set out to be the best free-throw shooter he could be by making 500 free-throws a day. Not 500 attempts. 500 good free-throws. Michael Jordan worked on his game, and worked, and worked, and worked some more, in order to be the best-version-of-himself. Keep on practicing. The best gift God has given you is perseverance.