The Saints on Virtue

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1803 "Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things."62

A virtue is an habitual and firm disposition to do the good. It allows the person not only to perform good acts, but to give the best of himself. The virtuous person tends toward the good with all his sensory and spiritual powers; he pursues the good and chooses it in concrete actions.

The goal of a virtuous life is to become like God.63


1804 Human virtues are firm attitudes, stable dispositions, habitual perfections of intellect and will that govern our actions, order our passions, and guide our conduct according to reason and faith. They make possible ease, self-mastery, and joy in leading a morally good life. The virtuous man is he who freely practices the good.

The moral virtues are acquired by human effort. They are the fruit and seed of morally good acts; they dispose all the powers of the human being for communion with divine love.


1805 Four virtues play a pivotal role and accordingly are called "cardinal"; all the others are grouped around them. They are: prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance. "If anyone loves righteousness, [Wisdom's] labors are virtues; for she teaches temperance and prudence, justice, and courage."64 These virtues are praised under other names in many passages of Scripture.

1806 Prudence is the virtue that disposes practical reason to discern our true good in every circumstance and to choose the right means of achieving it; "the prudent man looks where he is going."65 "Keep sane and sober for your prayers."66 Prudence is "right reason in action," writes St. Thomas Aquinas, following Aristotle.67 It is not to be confused with timidity or fear, nor with duplicity or dissimulation. It is called auriga virtutum (the charioteer of the virtues); it guides the other virtues by setting rule and measure. It is prudence that immediately guides the judgment of conscience. The prudent man determines and directs his conduct in accordance with this judgment. With the help of this virtue we apply moral principles to particular cases without error and overcome doubts about the good to achieve and the evil to avoid.

1807 Justice is the moral virtue that consists in the constant and firm will to give their due to God and neighbor. Justice toward God is called the "virtue of religion." Justice toward men disposes one to respect the rights of each and to establish in human relationships the harmony that promotes equity with regard to persons and to the common good. The just man, often mentioned in the Sacred Scriptures, is distinguished by habitual right thinking and the uprightness of his conduct toward his neighbor. "You shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor."68 "Masters, treat your slaves justly and fairly, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven."69

1808 Fortitude is the moral virtue that ensures firmness in difficulties and constancy in the pursuit of the good. It strengthens the resolve to resist temptations and to overcome obstacles in the moral life. The virtue of fortitude enables one to conquer fear, even fear of death, and to face trials and persecutions. It disposes one even to renounce and sacrifice his life in defense of a just cause. "The Lord is my strength and my song."70 "In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."71

1809 Temperance is the moral virtue that moderates the attraction of pleasures and provides balance in the use of created goods. It ensures the will's mastery over instincts and keeps desires within the limits of what is honorable. The temperate person directs the sensitive appetites toward what is good and maintains a healthy discretion: "Do not follow your inclination and strength, walking according to the desires of your heart."72 Temperance is often praised in the Old Testament: "Do not follow your base desires, but restrain your appetites."73 In the New Testament it is called "moderation" or "sobriety." We ought "to live sober, upright, and godly lives in this world."74

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 (and this is fortitude). It obeys only [God] (and this is justice), and is careful in discerning things, so as not to be surprised by deceit or trickery (and this is prudence).75
The virtues and grace

1810 Human virtues acquired by education, by deliberate acts and by a perseverance ever-renewed in repeated efforts are purified and elevated by divine grace. With God's help, they forge character and give facility in the practice of the good. The virtuous man is happy to practice them.

1811 It is not easy for man, wounded by sin, to maintain moral balance. Christ's gift of salvation offers us the grace necessary to persevere in the pursuit of the virtues. Everyone should always ask for this grace of light and strength, frequent the sacraments, cooperate with the Holy Spirit, and follow his calls to love what is good and shun evil.

1812 The human virtues are rooted in the theological virtues, which adapt man's faculties for participation in the divine nature:76 for the theological virtues relate directly to God. They dispose Christians to live in a relationship with the Holy Trinity. They have the One and Triune God for their origin, motive, and object.

1813 The theological virtues are the foundation of Christian moral activity; they animate it and give it its special character. They inform and give life to all the moral virtues. They are infused by God into the souls of the faithful to make them capable of acting as his children and of meriting eternal life. They are the pledge of the presence and action of the Holy Spirit in the faculties of the human being. There are three theological virtues: faith, hope, and charity.77

* Faith

1814 Faith is the theological virtue by which we believe in God and believe all that he has said and revealed to us, and that Holy Church proposes for our belief, because he is truth itself. By faith "man freely commits his entire self to God."78 For this reason the believer seeks to know and do God's will. "The righteous shall live by faith." Living faith "work[s] through charity."79

1815 The gift of faith remains in one who has not sinned against it.80 But "faith apart from works is dead":81 when it is deprived of hope and love, faith does not fully unite the believer to Christ and does not make him a living member of his Body.

1816 The disciple of Christ must not only keep the faith and live on it, but also profess it, confidently bear witness to it, and spread it: "All however must be prepared to confess Christ before men and to follow him along the way of the Cross, amidst the persecutions which the Church never lacks."82 Service of and witness to the faith are necessary for salvation: "So every one who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven; but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven."83


1817 Hope is the theological virtue by which we desire the kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness, placing our trust in Christ's promises and relying not on our own strength, but on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit. "Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful."84 "The Holy Spirit . . . he poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that we might be justified by his grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life."85

1818 The virtue of hope responds to the aspiration to happiness which God has placed in the heart of every man; it takes up the hopes that inspire men's activities and purifies them so as to order them to the Kingdom of heaven; it keeps man from discouragement; it sustains him during times of abandonment; it opens up his heart in expectation of eternal beatitude. Buoyed up by hope, he is preserved from selfishness and led to the happiness that flows from charity.

1819 Christian hope takes up and fulfills the hope of the chosen people which has its origin and model in the hope of Abraham, who was blessed abundantly by the promises of God fulfilled in Isaac, and who was purified by the test of the sacrifice.86 "Hoping against hope, he believed, and thus became the father of many nations."87

1820 Christian hope unfolds from the beginning of Jesus' preaching in the proclamation of the beatitudes. The beatitudes raise our hope toward heaven as the new Promised Land; they trace the path that leads through the trials that await the disciples of Jesus. But through the merits of Jesus Christ and of his Passion, God keeps us in the "hope that does not disappoint."88 Hope is the "sure and steadfast anchor of the soul . . . that enters . . . where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf."89 Hope is also a weapon that protects us in the struggle of salvation: "Let us . . . put on the breastplate of faith and charity, and for a helmet the hope of salvation."90 It affords us joy even under trial: "Rejoice in your hope, be patient in tribulation."91 Hope is expressed and nourished in prayer, especially in the Our Father, the summary of everything that hope leads us to desire.

1821 We can therefore hope in the glory of heaven promised by God to those who love him and do his will.92 In every circumstance, each one of us should hope, with the grace of God, to persevere "to the end"93 and to obtain the joy of heaven, as God's eternal reward for the good works accomplished with the grace of Christ. In hope, the Church prays for "all men to be saved."94 She longs to be united with Christ, her Bridegroom, in the glory of heaven:

Hope, O my soul, hope. You know neither the day nor the hour. Watch carefully, for everything passes quickly, even though your impatience makes doubtful what is certain, and turns a very short time into a long one. Dream that the more you struggle, the more you prove the love that you bear your God, and the more you will rejoice one day with your Beloved, in a happiness and rapture that can never end.95


1822 Charity is the theological virtue by which we love God above all things for his own sake, and our neighbor as ourselves for the love of God.

1823 Jesus makes charity the new commandment.96 By loving his own "to the end,"97 he makes manifest the Father's love which he receives. By loving one another, the disciples imitate the love of Jesus which they themselves receive. Whence Jesus says: "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you; abide in my love." And again: "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you."98

1824 Fruit of the Spirit and fullness of the Law, charity keeps the commandments of God and his Christ: "Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love."99

1825 Christ died out of love for us, while we were still "enemies."100 The Lord asks us to love as he does, even our enemies, to make ourselves the neighbor of those farthest away, and to love children and the poor as Christ himself.101

The Apostle Paul has given an incomparable depiction of charity: "charity is patient and kind, charity is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Charity does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Charity bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things."102
1826 "If I . . . have not charity," says the Apostle, "I am nothing." Whatever my privilege, service, or even virtue, "if I . . . have not charity, I gain nothing."103 Charity is superior to all the virtues. It is the first of the theological virtues: "So faith, hope, charity abide, these three. But the greatest of these is charity."104

1827 The practice of all the virtues is animated and inspired by charity, which "binds everything together in perfect harmony";105 it is the form of the virtues; it articulates and orders them among themselves; it is the source and the goal of their Christian practice. Charity upholds and purifies our human ability to love, and raises it to the supernatural perfection of divine love.

1828 The practice of the moral life animated by charity gives to the Christian the spiritual freedom of the children of God. He no longer stands before God as a slave, in servile fear, or as a mercenary looking for wages, but as a son responding to the love of him who "first loved us":106

If we turn away from evil out of fear of punishment, we are in the position of slaves. If we pursue the enticement of wages, . . . we resemble mercenaries. Finally if we obey for the sake of the good itself and out of love for him who commands . . . we are in the position of children.107
1829 The fruits of charity are joy, peace, and mercy; charity demands beneficence and fraternal correction; it is benevolence; it fosters reciprocity and remains disinterested and generous; it is friendship and communion: Love is itself the fulfillment of all our works. There is the goal; that is why we run: we run toward it, and once we reach it, in it we shall find rest.108


1830 The moral life of Christians is sustained by the gifts of the Holy Spirit. These are permanent dispositions which make man docile in following the promptings of the Holy Spirit.

1831 The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. They belong in their fullness to Christ, Son of David.109 They complete and perfect the virtues of those who receive them. They make the faithful docile in readily obeying divine inspirations.

Let your good spirit lead me on a level path.110
For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God . . . If children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ.111

1832 The fruits of the Spirit are perfections that the Holy Spirit forms in us as the first fruits of eternal glory. The tradition of the Church lists twelve of them: "charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, chastity."112


1833 Virtue is a habitual and firm disposition to do good.

1834 The human virtues are stable dispositions of the intellect and the will that govern our acts, order our passions, and guide our conduct in accordance with reason and faith. They can be grouped around the four cardinal virtues: prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance.

1835 Prudence disposes the practical reason to discern, in every circumstance, our true good and to choose the right means for achieving it.

1836 Justice consists in the firm and constant will to give God and neighbor their due.

1837 Fortitude ensures firmness in difficulties and constancy in the pursuit of the good.

1838 Temperance moderates the attraction of the pleasures of the senses and provides balance in the use of created goods.

1839 The moral virtues grow through education, deliberate acts, and perseverance in struggle. Divine grace purifies and elevates them.

1840 The theological virtues dispose Christians to live in a relationship with the Holy Trinity. They have God for their origin, their motive, and their object - God known by faith, God hoped in and loved for his own sake.

1841 There are three theological virtues: faith, hope, and charity. They inform all the moral virtues and give life to them.

1842 By faith, we believe in God and believe all that he has revealed to us and that Holy Church proposes for our belief.

1843 By hope we desire, and with steadfast trust await from God, eternal life and the graces to merit it.

1844 By charity, we love God above all things and our neighbor as ourselves for love of God. Charity, the form of all the virtues, "binds everything together in perfect harmony" (Col 3:14).

1845 The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit bestowed upon Christians are wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord.

62 Phil 4:8.
63 St. Gregory of Nyssa, De beatitudinibus, 1:PG 44,1200D.
64 Wis 8:7.
65 Prov 14:15.
66 1 Pet 4:7.
67 St. Thomas Aquinas, STh II-II,47,2.
68 Lev 19:15.
69 Col 4:1.
70 Ps 118:14.
71 Jn 16:33.
72 Sir 5:2; cf. 37:27-31.
73 Sir 18:30.
74 Titus 2:12.
75 St. Augustine, De moribus eccl. 1,25,46:PL 32,1330-1331.
76 Cf. 2 Pet 1:4.
77 Cf. 1 Cor 13:13.
78 DV 5.
79 Rom 1:17; Gal 5:6.
80 Cf. Council of Trent (1547): DS 1545.
81 Jas 2:26.
82 LG 42; cf. DH 14.
83 Mt 10:32-33.
84 Heb 10:23.
85 Titus 3:6-7.
86 Cf. Gen 17:4-8; 22:1-18.
87 Rom 4:18.
88 Rom 5:5.
89 Heb 6:19-20.
90 1 Thess 5:8.
91 Rom 12:12.
92 Cf. Rom 8:28-30; Mt 7:21.
93 Mt 10:22; cf. Council of Trent: DS 1541.
94 1 Tim 2:4.
95 St. Teresa of Avila, Excl. 15:3.
96 Cf. Jn 13:34.
97 Jn 13:1.
98 Jn 15:9,12.
99 Jn 15:9-10; cf. Mt 22:40; Rom 13:8-10.
100 Rom 5:10.
101 Cf. Mt 5:44; Lk 10:27-37; Mk 9:37; Mt 25:40, 45.
102 1 Cor 13:4-7.
103 1 Cor 13:1-4.
104 1 Cor 13:13.
105 Col 3:14.
106 Cf. 1 Jn 4:19.
107 St. Basil, Reg. fus. tract., prol. 3:PG 31,896B.
108 St. Augustine, In ep. Jo. 10,4:PL 35,2057.
109 Cf. Isa 11:1-2.
110 Ps 143:10.
111 Rom 8:14,17.
112 Gal 5:22-23 (Vulg.).


Be ye perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect.----Matt. 5:48

Be ye perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect.----Matt. 5:48

1. Consider all the past as nothing, and say, like David: Now I begin to love my God.----St. Francis de Sales

It was in this manner that the Apostle St. Paul acted; though, after his conversion, he had become a vessel of election, filled with the spirit of Jesus Christ, yet, to persevere and advance in the heavenly way, he made use of this means, for he said in his Epistle to the Philippians:

 "Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended. But one thing I do: forgetting the things that are behind, and stretching forth myself to those that are before, I press towards the mark, to the prize of the supernal vocation of God in Christ Jesus." [Phil. 3:13-14].

Thus the glorious St. Anthony went from day to day, stimulating himself to virtue. St. Anastasius said of him that he always looked upon himself as a beginner, as if every day were the first in which he was serving God, and as if in the past he had done nothing good and were but just setting foot in the way of the Lord and taking the first steps on the road to Heaven. And this was the very last admonition he left to his monks at his death: "My sons," he said to them, "if you wish to advance in virtue and perfection, never give up the practice of considering each day that you are then beginning, and of conducting yourselves always as you did on the day you began."

Thus also we find that St. Gregory, St. Bernard and St. Charles acted and advised others to act. To render clearer to all the necessity and utility of this method, they made use of two beautiful comparisons, saying that we must act in this like travelers who do not regard the road they have gone over, but, rather, what remains for them to traverse----and this they keep always before their eyes, even to their journey's end; or, like merchants eager for riches who make no account of what they have hitherto acquired, nor of the fatigue they have borne, but put all their thought and care upon new acquisitions, and upon daily multiplying their possessions, as if in the past they had made no profit at all.

2. We must begin with a strong and constant resolution to give ourselves wholly to God, professing to Him, in a tender, loving manner, from the bottom of our hearts, that we intend to be His without any reserve, and then we must often go back and renew this same resolution.----St. Francis de Sales

One of the means for the acquisition of perfection which was chiefly inculcated and much practiced by St. Philip Neri was a frequent renewal of good resolutions.

St. Francis de Sales made from time to time a spiritual renovation, and always conceived in it new desires to serve God better.

St. John Berchmans, at his very entrance into religion, planted in his heart a strong resolution to become a Saint, and then he not only remained constant in all the practices and resolutions which he took up for this end, but he went on daily gaining new vigor to his spiritual advantage.
When a holy religious was giving the Exercises at Torre di Specchi in Rome, a nun called Sr. Marie Bonaventura, who was living a very relaxed life, did not wish to be present. By many entreaties she was finally induced to attend. The first meditation, on the end of man, enkindled such fervor in her heart that the Father had scarcely finished when she called him to her, and said: "Father, I mean to be a Saint, and quickly." She then withdrew to her cell, and, writing the same words on a scrap of paper, fastened them to the foot of her crucifix. From this moment, she applied herself with so much earnestness to the practice of perfection that a memoir of her was written at her death, which occurred eleven months later.

3. The Lord chiefly desires of us that we should be completely perfect, that we may be wholly one with Him. Let us aim, therefore, at whatever we need to reach this.----St. Teresa

Father Peter Faber, a companion of St. Ignatius and highly esteemed by St. Francis de Sales, often dwelt on the thought that God greatly desires our advancement. And so he endeavored to grow constantly, and not to let a day pass without some progress in virtue, so that he gradually rose to great perfection and a high reputation for sanctity.

St. Pachomius and St. Anthony, by studying the virtues of others, stimulated themselves to attain similar excellence.

The Venerable Sister Mary Villani had the following vision. On the Feast of St. Francis, for whom she had a particular devotion, this Saint appeared to her and led her to a lofty place, more beautiful than any she had ever seen. To reach it, one was obliged to ascend four very high terraces, which signified, as the Saint revealed to her, the four degrees of perfection. With great difficulty she ascended, by his help, the first terrace; and he explained to her that this was the first state of perfection, called purity of conscience, which borders on angelic purity. In it the soul becomes like that of a little child, enjoys a pure and holy tranquility, never thinks evil of others, nor interests itself in what does not belong to its own position. Thence he brought her up to the second terrace, telling her that whoever had arrived at purity of conscience becomes capable of prayer and of true love, which is the inseparable fruit of prayer. Here he enumerated to her the properties of true love, which is pure, simple, unselfish and founded upon the truth of God, who can give Himself only to souls already possessed of purity. Then he raised her to the third terrace, that of the cross and mortification, adding that from purity and love the soul passes on to taking up the cross courageously and to being itself crucified, and that to arrive at this state one must acquire four cardinal virtues. These are: a true mortification of all vices and of every earthly affection; a perfect poverty of spirit, which tramples underfoot all temporal goods; a living death, by which the soul dies to itself and to all affections of sense, and lives in a total annihilation and transformation into its crucified Lord, so as to be able to say: "I live, now not I; but Christ liveth in me." [Gal. 2:20]. The soul that has gained this state seems to have conquered the world, and bears sufferings and crosses as if it could no longer feel them. The fourth terrace, he said, typified the state of real and perfect union.

4. I hear nothing talked of but perfection; yet I see it practiced only by few. Everyone forms his own ideal of it. Some place it in simplicity of attire; some in austerity; some in almsgiving; some in frequent reception of the Sacraments; this one, in prayer; that one, in passive contemplation; and another, in the gifts called gratuitous. But, by a general mistake, they take the effects for the cause, and the means for the end. For my part, I know of no other perfection than loving God with all the heart, and our neighbor as ourselves. Whoever imagines any other kind of perfection deceives himself, for the whole accumulation of virtues without this is but a heap of stones. And if we do not immediately and perfectly enjoy this treasure of holy love, the fault is in us. We are too slow and ungenerous with God, and do not give ourselves up entirely to Him, as the Saints did.----St. Francis de Sales

Who does not see that the perfection of this Saint must have been of a true and very sublime character, when his love for God and his neighbor was so great and so pure? The same may be said also of St. Vincent de Paul and many, others. St. Mary Magdalen de' Pazzi was truly admirable in both of these points. As we shall hereafter see, she was so much inflamed with the love of God that she could not bear the excessive ardor of this Divine fire, and was obliged to cool her glowing bosom with linen cloths soaked in water; and she carried the love of her neighbor so far as to desire and procure others' good in preference to her own.

5. All perfection is founded upon only two principles, by means of which, with due attention to the daily actions suited to our state, we shall certainly arrive at the summit and fullness of it. The first principle is a very low esteem for all created things, but, above all, for ourselves. This low esteem should show itself, in practice, by renouncing ourselves and all creatures; in our hearts, by a firm resolution; and in our lives, in such ways as may be suitable, especially by manifesting contentment and cheerfulness when the Lord takes from us any good. The second principle is a very high esteem of God, which may be easily acquired by the light of faith, as He is Omnipotent, the Supreme Good and our End; as also because He has loved us so much, and is ever present with us, and guides us in all things, both as to nature and grace, and, in particular, has called us and leads us by a special vocation to a lofty perfection. From this esteem there must certainly arise in us a great submission of will, and of every power and faculty, to His greater glory, without any mingling of our own interest, though it be ever so holy. At the same time, there will be great conformity with the Divine Will, which will be the actual measure of all our designs, affections, and works. In this manner, the soul arrives at union----not, indeed, at the mystic union of raptures, elevations of the spirit, and vehement affections; but the solid, real, and practical union of a will thoroughly conformed to the Divine Will by the perfect love which works out all things in God and for God without special lights. Of this, all are capable; and all, with certainty, though not without crosses, can arrive at it.----Fr. Achille Gagliardi

It was always the principal study of St. Vincent de Paul to establish and perfect himself in these two principles. Therefore, as his profound humility made him believe himself incapable of great things, he thought only of fulfilling faithfully towards God the obligations of a true and perfect Christian. And since he knew, by heavenly illuminations, that all Christian perfection depends upon a good use of these two principles, he aimed at them alone and sought above all to penetrate them well and to fix them in his soul, that they might serve as an unerring rule and guide for all his actions. And the plan succeeded well. For God, Who exalts the humble, did not think it enough to guide him by this means to that Christian perfection which he had prescribed to himself, but willed to exalt him to a sanctity equally solid and eminent, and which may truly be called singular, as, in fact, there are certainly few persons who without the help of extraordinary and mystic lights, under the guidance only of the lights of ordinary grace, have reached so lofty a sanctity as has this servant of God.

6. Perfection consists in one thing alone, which is doing the will of God. For, according to Our Lord's words, it suffices for perfection to deny self, to take up the cross and to follow Him. Now, who denies himself and takes up his cross and follows Christ better than he who seeks not to do his own will, but always that of God? Behold, now, how little is needed to become a Saint! Nothing more than to acquire the habit of willing, on every occasion, what God wills.----St. Vincent de Paul

More than in anything else the Saint just quoted showed the purity and solidity of his virtue, in always aiming to follow and obey the will of God. This was the great principle on which all his resolutions were founded, and by which he faithfully and firmly carried them into practice, trampling underfoot his own interest, and preferring the Divine Will and the glory and service of God to anything else, without exception.

The Lord said of David that he was a man after His own heart, and the foundation for such high praise is given in these words: "for in all things he will do My will."

St. Mary Magdalen de' Pazzi was so much attached to this practice that she often said that she would never determine upon anything, however trivial, such as going from one room to another, if she thought it not in conformity with the Divine Will, nor would she omit to do anything she believed in conformity with it. And she added that if it came into her mind while she was in the midst of an action that such an act was contrary to the will of God, she would abandon it on the instant, though to do so might cost her life.

Taulerus relates of a certain holy and learned man that when his friends entreated him, on his deathbed, to leave them some good precept, he said: "The sum and substance of all instruction is to take all that comes as from the hand of God, and to wish for nothing different, but to do in all things His Divine Will."

The Venerable Seraphina of God had so great a love for the Divine Will that she often entreated her director to manifest it to her, saying, "Counsel me, Father, as to what I am to do, and do not let me do anything of myself, that I may please the Divine Majesty. For to see God ever so little displeased would be worse than the loss of a thousand worlds." One day there came to her so great a desire to do nothing according to her own will, but only according to that of God, that with the consent of her director, she made a vow to that effect.

7. A servant of God signifies one who has a great charity towards his neighbor, and an inviolable resolution to follow in everything the Divine Will; who bears with his own deficiencies, and patiently supports the imperfections of others.----St. Francis de Sales

The whole life of this Saint, as well as of St. Vincent de Paul, was but a faithful and continual exercise of these virtues, on the occasions which every day presented themselves. In this way they both became great servants of God.

In the Lives of the Fathers of the West, it is told of St. Fintan that he was daily visited by an Angel, but that once the visit was omitted for several days. When the Saint had the happiness of seeing him again, he asked the Angel why he had been so long deprived of his most sweet companionship. "Because," replied the Angel, "I had to be present at the death of Motua, who was a great servant of God, and better than yourself, for he did what you have not done. This man never spoke a harsh word to anyone present, nor an unkind word of anyone absent. He never complained of heat or cold, nor of anything else, whatever it might be, or however it might happen; but always conformed himself to the will of God, in whose hands are all things."

When St. Gertrude was one day mourning over a little fault into which she was accustomed to fall at times, she earnestly entreated the Lord to free her from it. But He said to her, with great sweetness: "Would you wish that I should be deprived of a great honor and you yourself of a great reward? Know that every time one perceives a fault of his own and resolves to avoid it for the future, he gains a great reward; and as often as he keeps himself from falling into it again for My sake, he does Me as much honor as a valiant soldier does his king, when he fights
manfully against his enemies and conquers them."

8. To be perfect in one's vocation is nothing else than to perform the duties and offices to which one is obliged, solely for the honor and love of God, referring all to His glory. Whoever works in this manner may be called perfect in his state, a man according to the heart and will of God.----St. Francis de Sales

In the Lives of the Holy Fathers it is narrated of the Abbot Paphnutius, who was highly celebrated for sanctity, that one day he expressed a desire to know from the Lord whether he had any merit in His eyes. He received the reply that he had gained equal merit with a certain nobleman, whose name was given. The Saint immediately visited this gentleman, by whom he was kindly treated and hospitably entertained. When the repast was over, the Abbot begged of his host to tell him what was his manner of life. The Baron excused himself by saying that he did not possess any virtue, but after many entreaties, he said that he was very careful to entertain pilgrims, and provide them with whatever might be necessary for their journey; that he never despised the poor, but helped them in their need as much as he could; that he had justice administered equitably, I and always gave honest decisions, never swerving from right through fear or favor; that he never oppressed his subjects; that he allowed anyone to become his tenant, and expected from no one more than what was justly his due; that no one could complain of ever having received harm or damage from his family or cattle; that he had never offended or slandered anyone, but treated all with respect, helped all as far as he was able and endeavored to keep all in peace and harmony. On hearing this the holy Abbot was greatly edified, and understood that true perfection consisted not in great deeds, but in fulfilling our duties. In San Cesario in the province of Lecce there lived in the time of St. Joseph da Cupertino a nun who had a great reputation for sanctity. One day, when the Saint happened to visit the house of the Marquis of that place, he was asked his opinion of this report in regard to the nun. He answered, "You have a real Saint here among you, who is not known"; and he named a poor widow, of whom not a word had ever been said. The Marquis inquired as to what were her good qualities, and found that she remained always shut up in her poor little home, with some of her daughters, and that they worked constantly to support themselves and were never seen abroad but once a day, which was very early in the morning when they were going to church to hear Mass.

9. Although in entering religion and taking care not to offend God, we may appear to have done everything, ah! how often certain worms remain, which do not allow themselves to be perceived until they have gnawed away our virtues! Such worms are self-love, self- esteem, harsh judgments of others, though in trifles, and a great want of charity towards our neighbor. But if, indeed, by dragging on, we satisfy our obligations, we do not do it with that perfection which God would expect of us.----St. Teresa

To one of these worms, self-esteem, Monseigneur de Palafox attributed his own relaxation after his conversion and his narrow escape from eternal ruin. "For," said he, "though I was humble, had I, therefore, a right to believe that I was truly humble? and though I desired and intended to be good, ought I, therefore, to presume that I was truly good? This hidden pride obliged the Divine Goodness to overwhelm me, in order that I might see that I was not good, but bad, weak, miserable, full of pride, sensuality and unfaithfulness, and a prodigal scorner of the gifts of grace."

It is told in the Lives of the Fathers that two of them had received the gift of beholding mutually the grace which was in the heart of the other. One of them, leaving his cell early one Friday morning, found a monk who was eating at the hour contrary to their custom. He judged him to be in fault, and reproved him. When he returned home, his companion did not see in him the usual sign of grace, and asked him what he had done. But when the other remembered nothing, he added, "Think whether you may not have said some idle word." Then he remembered his rash judgment, and related what had happened. For this fault they both fasted two whole weeks, at the end of which the usual sign appeared in the brother who had been culpable.

10. Observe that perfection is not acquired by sitting with our arms folded, but it is necessary to work in earnest, in order to conquer ourselves and to bring ourselves to live, not according to our inclinations and passions, but according to reason, our Rule, and obedience. The thing is hard, it cannot be denied, but necessary. With practice, however, it becomes easy and pleasing.-----St. Francis de Sales

Plutarch relates of Lycurgus that he once took two puppies of the same litter and trained up one in the kitchen and the other to hunting. When they were grown (one day when he was going to address the people), he took them into the forum, where he threw down some fish bones and at the same time let loose a hare. The first immediately began to gnaw the bones, while the other set off in pursuit of the hare. Then Lycurgus commanded silence, and turning to the people, said: "Do you see this? These two dogs are of the same breed, yet they are not inclined to the same thing, but each to that which he has been accustomed to. So true is it that habit ends in overcoming even the most violent inclinations of nature." It is written of St. Ignatius Loyola, that through the continual struggle which he had made to mortify himself and to bear contradictions patiently, he had arrived at such a point as to appear to have no longer any inclination. The same thing has also been noticed in many others.

11. All the science of the Saints is included in these two things: To do, and to suffer. And whoever has done these two things best, has made himself most saintly.----St. Francis de Sales

Anyone who reads the Lives of Sts. Ambrose, Basil, Jerome, Chrysostom, Dominic, Vincent de Paul and other great Saints will not be surprised that they became so remarkable for holiness, when he sees the innumerable good works which they wrought and the great sufferings which they endured.

We are told in the Lives of the Fathers that this was the method chiefly employed by St. Dorotheus, to sanctify his disciple Dositheus. This Saint kept the latter constantly occupied, especially in things opposed to his own wishes. If he saw in his possession any article that was convenient and well made, even though it might be necessary for his work, he took it from him; if Dositheus called his master's attention to anything which he had done well, the Saint sent him away without any answer; and thus, in every desire, the Saint sought to mortify his disciple, while the latter, in the meantime, obeyed promptly in everything and bore all without reply. And thus, in the course of only five years, he reached a very high perfection and sanctity.

12. I wish I could persuade spiritual persons that the way of perfection does not consist in many devices, nor in much cogitation, but in denying themselves completely and yielding themselves to suffer everything for love of Christ. And if there is failure in this exercise, all other methods of walking in the spiritual way are merely a beating about the bush, and profitless trifling, although a person should have a very high contemplation and communication with God.----St. John of the Cross

Cassian wrote concerning the Abbot Paphnutius that the road by which he arrived at such great sanctity was that of constantly mortifying himself; and that in this manner he extinguished in himself all vices, and perfected in himself all virtues.

Father Balthasar Alvarez practiced continual mortification and self-denial in all that nature desired, not only in great things but also in small; and by this he arrived at high perfection.
The Blessed Angela di Foligno, in ecstasy, saw the Lord bestowing marks of love upon some of His servants, but upon one, more; upon another, less. Desiring to understand the cause of this difference, she advanced to inquire of Our Lord, who answered thus: "I invite all to Me, but all are not willing to come, because the way is interlaced with thorns. To all who come, I offer My bread to eat and My cup to drink. But My food is not pleasing to sense, and My cup is full of bitterness, so that all do not desire to satiate themselves with those labors which were My meat while I was in the world. But those who are most constant in bearing Me company, they certainly are My dearest and most favored ones." When the Saint had heard this, she was filled with so great a desire of suffering and denying herself in all ways that when many difficulties were afterwards placed in her way by her religious and by her own family, she experienced in them as great comfort as a worldling could have found in any plan made for his pleasure and advantage.
13. The greatest fault among those who have a good will is that they wish to be something they cannot be, and do not wish to be what they necessarily must be. They conceive desires to do great things for which, perhaps, no opportunity may ever come to them, and meantime neglect the small which the Lord puts into their hands. There are a thousand little acts of virtue, such as bearing with the importunities and imperfections of our neighbors, not resenting an unpleasant word or a trifling injury, restraining an emotion of anger, mortifying some little affection, some ill-regulated desire to speak or to listen, excusing an indiscretion, or yielding to another in trifles. These are things to be done by all; why not practice them? The occasions for great gains come but rarely, but of little gains many can be made each day; and by managing these little gains with judgment, there are some who grow rich. Oh, how holy and rich in merits we should make ourselves, if we but knew how to profit by the opportunities which our vocation supplies to us! Yes, yes, let us apply ourselves to follow well the path which is close before us, and to do well on the first opportunity, without occupying ourselves with thoughts of the last, and thus we shall make good progress.----St. Francis de Sales

St. Philip Neri, enkindled with a desire of martyrdom, had resolved to go to preach the Faith in India. But when God informed him, by revelation, that his India must be in Rome, he employed himself there, and by leading a life full of virtuous actions he became a great Saint.

St. John Berchmans, in only five years of religious life, certainly reached a lofty perfection. Now, how did he accomplish it? By nothing except striving to be faithful to do exactly all those things which he knew to be right and possible for him, in the way of not neglecting any part of perfection, which, with the aid of grace, he might be able to acquire.

St. Gertrude, feeling very weak one day, decided to make an effort to say Matins. When she had finished the First Nocturn, another sick sister came to ask her to say the Office with her; and she immediately went back to the beginning. That same morning she had a vision in which she saw her soul adorned with jewels of great value, and the Lord said to her that by the act of charity which she had performed for His love, she had merited this ornament in which the jewels equalled in number the words she had repeated.

We read of a young Jesuit student that, one morning in vacation, when he was just starting for a walk with some of his companions, he was requested by one of the Fathers to wait half an hour and serve Mass, which he did. When he had become more advanced in knowledge and age, he went to preach the Faith among the infidels, and there was found worthy to obtain the glory of Martyrdom. Then it was revealed to him that so great a grace had been given him by God in reward for the little mortification which he accepted in serving Mass.

14. Our greatest fault is that we wish to serve God in our way, not in His way----according to our will, not according to His will. When He wishes us to be sick, we wish to be well; when He desires us to serve Him by sufferings, we desire to serve Him by works; when He wishes us to exercise charity, we wish to exercise humility; when He seeks from us resignation, we wish for devotion, a spirit of prayer, or some other virtue. And this is not because the things we desire may be more pleasing to Him, but because they are more to our taste. This is certainly the greatest obstacle we can raise to our own perfection, for it is beyond doubt that if we wish to be Saints according to our own will, we shall never be so at all. To be truly a Saint, it is necessary to be one according to the will of God.----St. Francis de Sales

St. Mary Magdalen de' Pazzi knew this most important truth; and, with the guidance of so clear a light, she knew how to submit her will to that of God so perfectly that she was always contented with what came to her day by day, nor did she ever desire anything extraordinary. She was even accustomed to say that she would consider it a marked defect to ask of the Lord any grace for herself or others, with any greater importunity than simple prayers, and that it was her joy and glory to do His will, not that He should do hers. Even as to the sanctity and perfection of her own soul, she wished that it might be not according to her own desire, but to the will of God. And so, we find among her writings this resolution: To offer myself to God, and to seek all that perfection and only that perfection which He is pleased that I should have, and in the time and way that He shall wish, and not otherwise. In conversation with an intimate friend, she once said: The good which does not come to me by this way of the Divine Will, does not seem to me good. I would prefer having no gift at all except that of leaving my will and all my desires in God, to having any gift through desire and will. Yes, yes, in me sint, Deus, vola tua, et non vola mea----Thy will, not mine, be done. The grace which she asked most frequently and most earnestly of the Lord was this: that He would make her remain till death entirely subject and submissive to His Divine Will and pleasure; thus it is no wonder that she became so holy.

Even among the heathens, there are to be found those who by the light of reason alone clearly understood this truth. Plutarch disapproved of the common prayer of the people: May God give you all that good which you desire. No, he says, we ought rather to say, May God grant that you shall desire what He desires. And what is more, Epictetus practiced it; for he said: "I am always content with whatever happens, it all happens by the disposal of God, and I am certain that what God wills is better than what I can ever will."

15. Two mistakes I find common among spiritual persons. One is that they ordinarily measure their devotion by the consolations and satisfactions which they experience in the way of God, so that if these happen to be wanting, they think they have lost all devotion. No, this is no more than a sensible devotion. True and substantial devotion does not consist in these things, but in having a will resolute, active, ready, and constant not to offend God, and to perform all that belongs to His service. The other mistake is that if it ever happens to them to do anything with repugnance and weariness, they believe they have no merit in it. On the other hand, there is then far greater merit; so that a single ounce of good done thus by a sheer spiritual effort, amidst darkness and dullness and without interest, is worth more than a hundred pounds done with great facility and sweetness, since the former requires a stronger and purer love. And how great soever may be the aridities and repugnance of the sensible part of our soul, we ought never to lose courage, but pursue our way as travelers treat the barking of dogs.----St. Francis de Sales

A pious matron desiring to know what class of souls was most acceptable to the Lord, He gratified her wish by the following vision. One morning she was hearing Mass when, after the Elevation, she saw Jesus in the form of a most lovely Child, who began to walk about the altar. Thence He descended to a place where three devout nuns were kneeling at its foot. He took one of them by the hand and gave her many caresses. Then approaching the second, He raised her veil and gave her a slight blow on the cheek, and left her as if in anger; but soon returning, and finding her in grief and affliction, He devoted Himself to consoling her with a thousand endearments. Finally, He came to the third, and, with an appearance of great wrath, took her by the arm and drove her away from the altar, loading her with blows, and even tearing the hair from her head, while she bore all with great calmness, humbling herself and blessing God. Then Jesus, turning to the matron, said: "You must know that the first one is weak in virtue, and very changeable; therefore, to confirm her in the good way, I show Myself altogether amiable and kind; otherwise, she would leave it. The second is more perfect, yet she needs to experience, from time to time, some spiritual sweetness. But the third is so firm and constant in My service, that whatever adversity may come to her, she will not allow herself to be withdrawn from it, and she is My best beloved."

St. Philip Neri, in order to save his penitents from the first of these mistakes, used to tell them that in the spiritual life there are three degrees. The first, which is called animal, includes those who follow the sensible devotion which God usually gives to beginners, in order that, drawn by this delight as animals are by sensible objects, they may give themselves to the spiritual life. The second, which is called the life of man, is led by those who without sensible consolation fight for virtue against their own passions, which is the true characteristic of man. The third is called the angelic life. Those have arrived at it who, after long struggles in subduing their own passions, receive from God a life calm and tranquil and, as it were, angelic even in this world. And if anyone perseveres in the second degree, God will not fail, in His own time, to raise him to the third.

16. We are not to regard great favors from God so much as virtues, but consider who serves the Lord with the greatest mortification, humility, and purity of conscience; for the latter without the former will be the more holy.----St. Teresa

Were proofs of this truth wanting, the example of St. Vincent de Paul would be sufficient to confirm it. Very few extraordinary favors are recorded of him, yet he has been, and is now, regarded by all as a man of rare sanctity.

Rufinus of Aquilia tells of St. Macarius, that at one time he believed himself to have made much progress in virtue. But one day, when at prayer, he heard a voice which said to him, "Macarius, know that thou hast not attained as much virtue as two women who live at such a place?' Macarius went instantly to find them, and perceived, upon examination, that they possessed great merit, for they had lived together for fifteen years in the same house in perfect union and charity, without the slightest disagreement in word or act occurring between them. The Saint was amazed at this, and confessed that they were, in truth, better and more perfect than he, although he had been gifted by the Divine Goodness with many extraordinary favors.

17. Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do? Here is the true token of a soul absolutely perfect: when one has succeeded in leaving behind his own will to such a degree as no longer to seek, to aim, or to desire to do what he would will, but only what God wills.----St. Bernard

These were the first words of the Apostle St. Paul as he recognized the Lord: "Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?" And they were uttered by him with so much sincerity of affection, and with such submission of will, that from that day forward he had no other desire and no other aim than to fulfill the Divine Will in all and through all. Nor in all the adversities, labors, sufferings, and torments which he encountered was there ever a thing sufficient to diminish, or even in the least to shake, his constancy and fidelity.

St. Jane Frances de Chantal had so great a desire to know and follow the Divine Will that on merely hearing those words, "Divine Will," she felt all on fire, as if a torch had been applied to her heart, and she remained in a kind of torture until she knew how she was to understand them.
The venerable Mother Seraphina di Dio testifies of herself that the Lord showed her plainly, by an interior illumination, how good a thing it is to live without any will of one's own and to commit one's self entirely to His holy will. "I remained," she says, "fully persuaded that on account of His greatness and perfection it was the most suitable thing for all His creatures to have no other will than that of their most loving God; and that when one has reached this point, he belongs wholly to God and enjoys Paradise upon earth."

18. If you truly wish to make spiritual profit, you must apply yourself closely to that counsel of the Apostle, Attende tibi----Take heed to thyself. This implies two things: The first is not to become entangled in others' affairs, or watchful as to their defects; since he has no little to do who wishes to manage his own affairs well and correct his own failures. The second is to take our own perfection to heart and attend to it incessantly, without regarding whether others attend to theirs or not. For perfection is so purely individual a matter that, though men who belong to the same order, company, family, or country are here said to make one body; yet, in the world above, it is certain that each one will be separate by himself, and carry his profits and losses to his own account.----Abbot Pastor

A rare pattern of this was St. John Berchmans. From his first entrance into religion, it had been his fixed intention to become a Saint; and from the same time, he made it his aim and his only important business to watch over himself; and to this, in fact, he gave his attention as long as he lived. He did this with such application and such unwearied earnestness that he did not even have time to think of others' occupations or to notice their defects. And thus he never stopped to reflect why others said or did so and so, or whether they did well or ill. Nor did he ever enlist in the defense of one with the danger of offending another, but let everyone go his own way and manage his own affairs for himself. As to the faults of others, he thought of them so little that even when they were committed in his presence he did not notice them; and it was said of him that he was not able to tell what errors the others committed. All his care was to correct his own defects and to perform his own actions well; and so, the pains he took to keep his soul clear of every fault were something extraordinary. For besides carefully making the daily examens and a most rigorous retreat of one day in each month, he often and urgently entreated his superiors and companions to keep their eyes upon him, and inform him of anything they might see amiss. And when counsel of that kind was given him, he received it as a peculiar favor and offered special prayers for whoever gave it. But not content with this, as he had an ardent desire to render himself as pleasing as possible in the eyes of God, he employed every effort to this end. Therefore he devoted himself with admirable diligence to the most exact observance of his Rules; to executing promptly and faithfully whatever was imposed on him by obedience; to performing well and with particular devotion the spiritual exercises as things which immediately concern the honor of God and one's own profit, paying most attention of all to his Communions, to which he always gave two hours; and finally, to practicing all virtues, especially charity towards the sick. Though he had great fondness for study, he never allowed it to stand in the way of his spiritual exercises, nor of charity or obedience; for his heart did not seek for what afforded most delight, but most merit. And he did all these things without noticing at all whether others did the same or failed in them, because that one precept, attende tibi, ever remained planted deeply in his heart.

What harm does it cause the other Apostles now that the unhappy Judas remains suffering in Hell? All the loss falls upon Judas alone. And if Berchmans be higher in Heaven than so many others who were his companions in religion, is not all the gain his?

19. Do not let any occasion of gaining merit pass without taking care to draw some spiritual profit from it; as, for example, from a sharp word which someone may say to you; from an act of obedience imposed against your will; from an opportunity which may occur to humble yourself, or to practice charity, sweetness, and patience. All these occasions are gain for you, and you should seek to procure them; and at the close of that day, when the greatest number of them have come to you, you should go to rest most cheerful and pleased, as the merchant does on the day when he has had most chance for making money; for on that day business has prospered with him.----St. Ignatius Loyola

It was one of the principal maxims which St. John Berchmans kept fixed in his mind, as we read in his Life, to endeavor to gain merit in everything, and not to let any occasion, however small, escape, if it could be profitable to him. For this reason he continually went in search of such occasions, and when they came to him from others he embraced them all with courage and heartfelt joy, without ever remarking the want of discretion and virtue which they betrayed in others, attending only to his own advancement in humility. And so, from whatever he heard or saw, he was always wont to derive some good fruit for himself; and in this way he attained to the condition of a Saint, which was precisely what he desired.

When St. Matilda was visited by the Lord, accompanied by many Saints, one of them said to her: "Oh, how blessed are you who still live upon earth, on account of the great merit you can acquire!" If a man knew how much he could merit in a day, at the moment he arose in the morning his heart would be filled with joy because the day had appeared in which he could live to his Lord, and, by His grace, increase so greatly His honor and glory and his own merit. This would give him great confidence and strength to do and suffer everything with extreme satisfaction.

We read of St. Francis Xavier that he was stung with shame and self-reproach when he found that merchants had gone to Japan with their merchandise sooner than he himself with the treasures of the Gospel, to spread the Faith and extend the Kingdom of Heaven.

20. Give yourself in earnest to the acquisition of virtue; otherwise, you will remain always a dwarf in it. Never believe that you have acquired a virtue, if you have not made proof of it in resisting its contrary vice, and unless you practice it faithfully on suitable occasions which, for this reason, ought never to be avoided, but rather desired, sought, and embraced with eagerness----St. Teresa

St. Vincent de Paul was not contented, as so many are, with knowing and loving virtues, but he applied himself continually to the practice of them. It was his maxim that labor and patience are the best means of acquiring and planting them firmly in our hearts and that virtues acquired without effort or difficulty can be easily lost, while those which have been beaten by the storms of temptation and practiced amid the difficulties and repugnances of nature, sink their roots deep into the heart. And so, on such occasions, instead of being sad he appeared unusually cheerful. When a certain person was lamenting a mischance which had recently occurred as likely to give bad opinion of his community and give rise to comments injurious to himself, he replied, "This is good, for it will give us a more favorable occasion to practice virtue."

By this same sentiment, St. Philip Neri encouraged his penitents not to grieve when they suffer temptations and trials, telling them that when the Lord intends to confer on anyone some particular virtue, He is accustomed to permit him to be first assailed by the contrary vice.
St. Francis de Sales illustrated the firmness of virtue in this manner: "If," said he, "the world comes to attack me, I will treat it as I would a viper: I will trample it underfoot, and obey none of its suggestions. If Satan arms his powers, I will not fear them at all. I am stronger than he. God is my Father, and He will have compassion on me, and will fight for me." Here is a fine example of virtue, and of the way to exercise it.

21. Humility and charity are the two master-chords: one, the lowest; the other, the highest; all the others are dependent on them. Therefore it is necessary, above all, to maintain ourselves in these two virtues; for observe well that the preservation of the whole edifice depends on the foundation and the roof.----St. Francis de Sales

Although there never was or can be any Saint destitute of these two most necessary virtues, yet there have been some who, in our eyes at least, have seemed to excel in their brightness. One of these was certainly St. Francis di Paula. Through his great humility, he was not contented with considering himself the least of all men, but he also desired that this should be the mark distinguishing his order from all others; and as to charity, he was so inflamed with love that he sometimes lit candles by touching them with his finger, just as if he had applied to them a burning torch.

22. The two feet upon which one walks to perfection are mortification and the love of God. The latter is the right, the former the left foot.

By the aid of these, St. Francis Assisi climbed to the loftiest perfection. He led a life so austere and rigid that at the point of death he felt that he must ask pardon of his body for having treated it so ill; and his love of God was so remarkable that he gained not only for himself, but for his order as well, the noble title of Seraphic.

When St. Francis de Sales wished to lead anyone to live in a Christian manner and renounce worldliness, he would not speak of the exterior----of the adornment of the hair, of rich dress, and similar things----but he spoke only to the heart and of the heart, for he knew that if this fortress is captured, all else surrenders and that when the true love of God comes to possess a heart, all that is not God seems to it of no account.
St. Philip Neri adopted the same course with his penitents. He was not accustomed to dwell very much upon any vanities in dress, but he would overlook them as much as possible for some time, that he might more easily arrive at his object. When a lady once asked him whether it was a sin to wear very high heels, his only answer was, "Take care not to fall." A man also came frequently to see him, wearing a collar with long stiff points. One day, he touched him lightly on the neck and said: "I would oftener give you such marks of friendship if your collar did not hurt my hand." And with these reproofs alone both corrected their faults. A clergyman of noble birth, dressed in bright colors and with much display, came to the Saint every day for a fortnight to consult him in regard to the affairs of his soul. During all this time he said not a word to him in regard to his dress, but only took pains to make him feel compunction for his sins. Finally, becoming ashamed of his style of dress, he changed it of his own accord, made a good general confession, and giving himself wholly into St. Philip's hands became afterwards one of his most intimate and familiar friends.

23. When one is going on really well, he feels in himself a continual desire to advance; and the more he grows in perfection, the more this desire grows. Since his light is increasing every day, it always seems to him that he has no virtue and is doing no good; or if, perhaps, he sees that he has and is doing some good, it yet appears to him very imperfect, and he makes little account of it. And so it comes to pass that he always goes on laboring for the acquisition of virtue without ever being weary. ----St. Lawrence Justinian

St. Fulgentius was so enamored of perfection that whatever he did towards it always seemed to him little, and he was always desiring to do better.

St. Vincent de Paul every day saw more of his own faults, yet he continually applied anew all his zeal to amend and perfect himself.

St. Ignatius constantly compared one day with another, and the gain on one day with the gain on another. Thus he advanced daily and entertained a constant desire of advancing still more, that he might reach the summit of perfection to which God called him.

St. James the Apostle received great praise because he went on advancing daily in the Divine service.

24. To be pleased at correction and reproofs shows that one loves the virtues which are contrary to those faults for which he is corrected and reproved. And, therefore, it is a great sign of advancement in perfection.----St. Francis de Sales

When a monk once visited the Abbot Serapion, he suggested that first of all, they should pray together. But the visitor refused, saying that he was a great sinner and unworthy to wear the habit. A little while after, the Abbot addressed him thus: "My brother, if you wish to become perfect, remain at work in your cell and do not talk much, for going about a great deal is not desirable for you." At these words the monk was not a little perturbed. When the Abbot perceived this, he added, "What is the matter, brother? A moment ago you said you were so great a sinner that you were not worthy to live; and now, when I have shown you, in charity, what you need, are you angry? From this, it would seem that your humility is not genuine. If you wish to be humble in truth, learn to receive admonitions humbly." At this reproof, the monk recollected himself, acknowledged his fault and went away greatly edified.

The Empress Leonora requested her confessor and those ladies of her court with whom she was most intimate that when they observed anything in her that needed amendment or improvement, to inform her of it with all possible freedom, as they would tell her the pleasantest news; and when they did it, she thanked them very cordially.

When St. Peter was reproved by St. Paul he was not angry; neither did he stand upon his dignity as Superior, nor look down upon the other for having been a persecutor of the Church, but received the advice in good part.

We read of St. Ambrose, that when anyone informed him of a fault, he thanked him as for a special favor; and there was a certain Cistercian who was especially pleased at an admonition, and used to say an Our Father for whoever gave it.

St. John Berchmans always entertained a great desire to have his faults told him in public and to be reproved for them, and if this ever happened he was much pleased. With this intention, he used to write them on scraps of paper, which he gave to the Superiors, that they might read them and reprimand him for them. Not content with this, he asked of the Superior that four of his companions might keep their eyes on him and admonish him. One of these testified that having once drawn his attention to a slight omission into which he had fallen, on account of being occupied in another work of charity at the time, he thanked him cordially for the warning and said the beads for him three times, promising that he would always do the same whenever he would inform him of any defect.

25. The finnest assurance that we can have in this world of being in the grace of God does not consist at all in sentiments of love to Him, but in complete and irrevocable abandonment of our whole being into His hands, and in the firm resolution never to consent to any sin either great or small.----St. Francis de Sales

We read in old chronicles of a young lady who was so severely afflicted that she seemed to be suffering the pains of Hell. After remaining for a long time in this state, she one day turned her whole heart to God in this prayer: "My sweetest Lord, only remember that I am a poor creature of Thine! for the rest, do with me what pleases Thee, now and through eternity! I abandon myself into Thy hands, and am ready to suffer these torments as long as it shall please Thee." This act of resignation, which she made from her heart with all sincerity, was so pleasing to God that it was scarcely finished when He united her to Himself and immersed her blissfully in the immense ocean of His Divinity.

St. Catherine of Genoa said: "I am no more my own; whether I live or die, I am my Saviour's; I have no longer any possession or interest of my own. My God is all; my being consists in being wholly His. O world! thou art always the same, and until now, I have been always the same; but, from this time forth, I will be such no longer."

26. Let us learn from Jesus in the manger, to hold the things of the world in such esteem as they deserve.----St. Francis de Sales

The Ven. Beatrice of Nazareth saw, in a vision, the whole system of the universe beneath her feet and God alone above her head, so that she was standing, as it were, between God and the world----the world beneath, God above, and she herself in the middle. By this, she understood that the height of perfection is gained when one has over his head only God, and all else under his feet, making no more account of it than if it did not exist, placing all his love and interest in God, and nothing else, not even himself, except in God.

St. Hedwig, Queen of Poland, after becoming a nun would never mention or listen to any worldly news unless it concerned the honor of God and the salvation of souls.

27. If you wish for a method brief and compendious, one which contains in itself all other methods and is most efficacious in conquering all temptations and difficulties, and acquiring perfection, this is the exercise of the presence of God.----St. Basil

A priest who was an intimate friend of the same St. Basil suffered mny severe temptations and many grievous threats from Julian the Apostate, but always held his ground firmly against them. He himself assigned this reason for his victory: "It was because," he said, "in all that time, so far as I remember, the Divine Presence never escaped my mind."

Joseph, when solicited to evil, replied, "How shall I do this under the eye of God?" And Susanna said, "It is better for me to fall into your hands without fault, than to sin in the sight of God."
St. Ephrem being solicited to sin by a woman of evil life, professed his readiness, provided the scene of their transgression should be the public square. But when the woman objected to this condition on account of the shame it would involve, "Then," replied the Saint, "you fear shame before the eyes of men, and do you not fear it before the Angels of God?" By this consideration, he brought about her conversion.

When Tais learned that God beheld her in the commission of sin, she resisted a thousand temptations and became a Saint.

28. To be able to advance much in perfection, it is necessary to apply ourselves to one thing by itself----to a single book of devotion, to a single spiritual exercise, to a single aspiration, to a single virtue, and so on. Not, indeed, that all other things ought to be quite rejected and passed by, but in such a way that this to which one is applying himself may usually be aimed at more in particular and as the special object of the most frequent effort, so that if one chance to turn to others, these may be like accessories. To do otherwise, by passing from one exercise to another, is to imitate those who spoil their appetite at a banquet by tasting a little of every delicacy. It is perpetually seeking, and never attaining, the science of the Saints, and so it results in losing that tranquillity of spirit in God, which is the "one thing needful" that Mary chose. We must, however, guard ourselves here from one fault, into which many fall. It is that of attaching ourselves too much to our own practices and spiritual exercises. This, naturally, makes us feel dislike for all methods not conformed to our own; for each one thinks that he employs the only suitable one, and considers as imperfect those who do not work in the same way. Whoever has a good spirit draws edification from everything, and condemns nothing.----St. Francis de Sales

Although the Saints profited by everything, yet each of them chose some practice of his own in which he exercised himself particularly. For example, the favorite author of St. Francis de Sales was Scupoli; that of St. Dominic, Cassian; the most frequent ejaculation of St. Francis was, "My God is my all!" that of St. Vincent de Paul, "In the name of the Lord!" that of St. Bruno, "Oh, Goodness!" Some had the presence of God for their spiritual exercise; some, purity of intention; some, resignation to the Divine Will; and others, the renunciation of themselves. The same was the case with regard to the virtues. One had a greater love for one virtue; another, for another. Whence it happens that almost all excelled particularly in some special virtue.

St. Catherine of Siena, in regarding these various preferences of good souls, disapproved of none of them, but rather rejoiced that the Lord should be served in so many and such different ways.

29. If you wish to arrive speedily at the summit of perfection, animate yourself to a true love of shame, insults, and calumny.----St. Ignatius

As this Saint was meditating one day on the great advantages which spring from shame and insults, he conceived a vehement desire to go through the public squares of Rome loaded with rags and other rubbish; and he was restrained from carrying it into execution only by the fear that he might not afterwards be as well able to promote the glory of the Lord.

We read of St. Catherine of Bologna that when she met with any slight or insult, she rejoiced at it and it only increased her desire for more. By this she advanced so much in the love of God that she would have been willing, as she herself protested, to endure not only all the trials of this world, but even the pains of Hell to obey His will.

St. Gregory relates of the Abbot Stephen that he had conceived so great a love for insults, calumnies, and vexations that when he received any he thought he had made great profit, and returned affectionate thanks to whoever gave them to him; and by this he attained such reputation for sanctity that whoever did him any harm felt sure that he had secured his friendship.

30. Place thyself under the discipline of a stern and austere man, who will treat thee harshly and with rigor; and then strive to drink in all his reproofs and ill treatment as one would drink milk and honey; and I assure thee that in a little time thou wilt find thyself on the pinnacle of perfection.----Abbot Moses

It is related in the Lives of the Fathers that the Abbot John diligently and affectionately served one of the old Fathers, who was ill, for a period of twelve years. Though this Father saw what severe and long fatigue the Abbot was enduring, he never gave him one gentle or amiable word, but always treated him with harshness. But when he was dying, he called for the Abbot, and, taking him by the hand, said to him three times, "Abide in God!" and then he recommended him to the Fathers, saying, "This is not a man, but an Angel."

31. As it is most certain that the teaching of Christ cannot deceive, if we would walk securely, we ought to attach ourselves to it with the greatest confidence and to profess openly that we live according to it, and not to the maxims of the world, which are all deceitful. This is the fundamental maxim of all Christian perfection.----St. Vincent de Paul

This was, indeed, the ordinary chosen basis upon which this Saint himself established his own life and in which he found all his confidence and peace. Whenever he felt that he was supported by a holy maxim he went on courageously, passing over his own judgment and all human respect, or fear that his conduct might meet with blame or opposition.

St. Francis de Sales was often blamed by his friends, as they did not approve of his course in not sustaining his dignity and defending himself more vigorously against the attacks of the malevolent. He replied to them that mildness ought to be the characteristic of bishops; and so, although the world and self-love has established maxims of another kind, he did not wish to make use of them, because they were contrary to those of Jesus Christ, in conformity to which he had always gloried.


   Whoever humbleth himself, shall be exalted.----Lk. 14:11

1. Humility is the foundation of all the virtues; therefore, in a soul where it does not exist there can be no true virtue, but the mere appearance only. In like manner, it is the most proper disposition for all celestial gifts. And, finally, it is so necessary to perfection, that of all the ways to reach it, the first is humility; the second, humility; the third, humility. And if the question were repeated a hundred times, I should always give the same answer.----St. Augustine

St. Vincent de Paul perceived that all his advancement and almost all the graces he had received were due to this virtue; and for this reason he inculcated it so much and so greatly desired to introduce it into his congregation.

St. Aloysius Gonzaga, who knew this truth well, took no greater pains in acquiring any other virtue. For this purpose he recited every day a special prayer to the Angels that they would aid him to walk in this royal road, which they themselves had first trodden, that he might finally succeed in gaining the position of one of those stars that fell from Heaven through pride.

A certain man named Pascasius said that for twenty years he had never asked anything of God except humility, and yet that he had but little of it. However, when no one was able to expel a devil from a possessed person, Pascasius had scarcely entered the church before the devil cried out, "This man I fear," and immediately departed.

Fra Maffeo, a companion of St. Francis, once heard, in a conference on humility, that a great servant of God was very remarkable for this virtue, and that on account of it God loaded him with spiritual gifts. He was thus inspired with so great a love for it, that he made a vow never to rest until he should perceive that he had acquired it. He remained, then, shut up in his cell, asking of God true humility, with tears, fasting, mourning, and many prayers. One day he went out in the woods, and while he was sighing and asking this grace from God, with ejaculatory prayers, he heard the Lord saying to him, "Fra Maffeo, what would you give for humility?" He answered, "I would give my eyes!" "And I," replied the Lord, "desire that you should have your eyes, and the grace you seek." Suddenly there entered his heart a great joy, and at the same time he had the lowest possible opinion of himself, so that he considered himself the least of all men.

2. Humility is the mother of many virtues. From it spring obedience, holy fear, reverence, patience, modesty, mildness, and peace; for, whoever is humble easily obeys all, fears to offend any, maintains peace with all, shows himself affable to all, is submissive to all, does not offend or displease any, and does not feel the insults which may be inflicted upon him. He lives happy and contented, and in great peace.----St. Thomas of Villanova

Here we see the reason why St. Francis, St. Dominic, St. Vincent de Paul and so many others became remarkable for all the virtues above mentioned. It is because they were remarkable for humility.

St. Jane Frances de Chantal had conceived so much affection for this virtue, that she watched over herself with !the greatest attention, in order that she might not allow even the smallest occasion of practicing it to escape. And she once said to St. Francis de Sales, "My dearest Father, I beg you, for the love of God, help me to humble myself."

3. Whoever is not very humble, can never draw profit from contemplation, in which any little atom of insufficient humility, though it may seem nothing, works the greatest harm.----St. Teresa

One day, the Blessed Virgin prayed her most holy Son that He would bestow some spiritual gifts upon St. Bridget. But He gave her this reply: "Whoever seeks lofty things ought first to be exercised in the lowly, by the paths of humility." Because the blessed Clara of Montefalco experienced a vain pleasure in some things she had done, the Lord withdrew from her for fifteen years, His lights and celestial consolations, which she could not regain during all that time, though she begged for them earnestly, with tears, prayers, and the use of the discipline.

4. Humility is necessary not only for the acquisition of virtues, but even for salvation. For the gate of Heaven, as Christ Himself testifies, is so narrow that it admits only little ones.----St. Bernard

The Pharisee was separated by his condition in life from the rest of the people, as this sect formed a kind of religious order, in which they prayed, fasted, and performed many other good works; but he was, notwithstanding, reproved by God. Why, then, was this? For no other reason than that he was wanting in humility; for he felt much satisfaction in his good works, and gloried in them as if they were the result of his own virtue.

William, Bishop of Lyons, tells in his Chronicles, of a monk who often violated the prescribed silence, but upon being admonished spiritually by his Abbot he amended, and became so recollected and so devout that he was worthy to receive from God many revelations. Now, it happened that the Father Abbot was sent for by a hermit, who, having reached the close of a virtuous life, desired to receive from him the last Sacraments. The Abbot went, and took with him the silent monk. On the road, a robber, hearing the little bell, accompanied the Blessed Sacrament as far as the cell of the dying man; but he stopped outside, considering himself unworthy to enter the abode of a saint. After the hermit had confessed and received Communion with humility, the robber kept repeating at the door, "Oh, Father, if I were but like you, oh, how happy should I be!" The hermit hearing this, said in his heart, with presumption and complacency, "You are right to desire this; who can doubt it?" and immediately expired. Then the good Religious began to weep, and withdrew from the Abbot. The robber followed them, with tears and hatred for his sins, and the full purpose of confessing and doing penance for them, as soon as they should arrive at the monastery. But he was not able to reach it, for on the way he fell unexpectedly to the ground and died. At this accident, the Religious became joyous again and laughed; and when the Abbot asked him why he had been sad at the death of the hermit, and joyful at that of the robber, he replied: "Because the former is lost, in punishment for his presumption, and the latter saved, on account of his strong resolution to do fitting penance for his sins; and the sorrow he felt for them was so great that it has cancelled even all their penalty."

5. The most powerful weapon to conquer the devil is humility. For, as he does not know at all how to employ it, neither does he know how to defend himself from it.----St. Vincent de Paul

When Macarius was returning one day to his cell, he met the devil, who, wIth a scythe in his hand, tried to cut him in pieces. But he could not do it, because as soon as he came near, he lost his strength. Then, full of rage, he said, "Great misery do I suffer from thee, O Macarius;
for, though I wish so much to hurt thee, I am not able. It is strange! I do all that thou doest, and even more; thou dost fast sometimes, and I never eat; thou sleepest little, and I never close my eyes; thou art chaste, and so am I. In one thing only thou surpassest me." "And what is that one thing?" inquired Macarius. "It is thy great humility," replied the demon. Saying this, he disappeared, and was seen no more.

The devil once appeared to a monk in the form of the Archangel Gabriel, and said that he was sent to him by God. The monk replied, "See that thou be not sent by another!" And the devil immediately disappeared.

When an old priest was exorcising a possessed person, the demon said that he would never come out, if he did not first tell him what the goats and what the lambs were like. The good priest quickly answered: "The goats are all those who are like me. What the lambs may resemble, God knows." At these words, the devil cried out: "Through your humility I can no longer remain here," and immediately departed.

6. Persons who keep themselves low in their own estimation and love to be considered of little account and despised by others please God in the highest degree; and, therefore, He willingly lowers Himself to them, pours upon them the treasures of His graces, reveals to them His secrets, invites and draws them sweetly to Himself. Thus, the more one lowers and abuses himself before men, the more he rises and becomes great in the sight of God, and the more clearly he will, one day, behold the Divine Essence.----Thomas a Kempis

St. Gertrude, one day hearing the little bell ring for Communion and not feeling as well prepared as she desired, said to the Lord: "I see that Thou art even now coming to me; but why hast Thou not first adorned my heart with some ornaments of devotion, with which I might be more suitably prepared to come and meet Thee?" But the Lord answered: "Know that sometimes I am more pleased with the virtue of humility than with exterior devotion."
A Religious, not being able to understand a passage of Holy Scripture, fasted for seven weeks, and not understanding it then resolved to go to another monk and inquire about it. But scarcely had he gone out of his cell when there appeared to him an Angel sent expressly from God, who said to him: "Thy fast has not rendered thee pleasing to God, but rather this humiliation of thine"; and then he solved for him the doubt.

After Tais was converted, she held herself always so low in her own eyes, on account of her past evil life, that she did not dare to utter the holy name of God even in invoking Him, but only said, "My Creator, have mercy on me!" And by this humility, she arrived at such a sublime degree of perfection that when Paul the Simple saw a most beautiful place in Paradise, which he supposed to be intended for St. Anthony, he was informed that it would be occupied by Tais within a fortnight.

St. Bonaventure [pictured above] said: "I know a thing to do which will please the Lord. I will consider myself as refuse, I will become intolerable to myself. And when I find myself shamed, degraded, trampled upon and loaded with insults by others, I will rejoice and exult, because of myself I cannot abuse or detest myself as much as I ought. I will call in help from all creatures, desiring to be confounded and punished by them all, because I have despised their Creator. This shall be my dearest treasure----to solicit insults and slights upon myself, to love above all others those who will help me in this, and to abhor all the consolation and honors of the present life. If I do this, I believe it certain that the treasury of Divine Mercy will open above me, miserable and unworthy as I am."
St. Francis of Assisi considered himself not only a mere nothing, the greatest sinner in the world, and deserving of Hell, but unworthy even that God should give him a thought. One day while he was speaking in this manner to one of his companions, the latter saw, in spirit, that there was prepared for him in Heaven a seat among the Seraphim.

7. One day of humble self-knowledge is a greater grace from the Lord, although it may have cost us many afflictions and trials, than many days of prayer.----St. Teresa

St. Gertrude, once reflecting upon the benefits she had received from God, blushed for herself and became so odious in her own eyes that she seemed unworthy to remain in the sight of God, and she would gladly have found some nook, where she might conceal from man, if not from God, the odor of corruption with which she felt herself tainted. At this, Christ humbled Himself to her with so much goodness that the whole celestial court stood amazed.

The venerable Mother Seraphina di Dio received, one day, a spiritual light, by means of which (as she states in her account of it to her director) she perceived clearly that God, being by His nature luminous truth, can behold in Himself only that which He really is----that is, infinite perfection, in which He rejoices and delights. Therefore, when He wishes to unite a soul to Himself, He communicates to it a light of truth, by which it sees, without error or deception, its own nature; that is, that by itself it has never done any good, neither is it able to do any; that in itself it has only inclination to evil, and what good it has is altogether from God. And such a person has no need of much consideration and analysis, because with such a light of truth, all appears so clear that to think otherwise would be mere darkness and deceit. But though the soul, in this clear light, appears ugly, deformed and odious in its own eyes, yet, in the eyes of God, it seems beautiful and very pleasing, because it becomes like His own most true and luminous nature. It happened that this same servant of God, after leading an innocent and most perfect life, came at one time to know her imperfections with such clearness that they seemed to her to become very grave and frightful sins, so that she experienced great bitterness of spirit and could obtain no peace; when she was reproved for any failure, she was not at all disturbed, but said in her heart: "What you see is nothing. Oh, if you saw all, how you would abhor me!" But the Lord consoled her by telling her interiorly that her past imperfections seemed to her so unusually great because her soul was in a state of clear light, but that these deformities were no longer in existence, as He had already cancelled them by His Blood.

8. Hold thyself as vile; rejoice to be so held by others; never exalt thyself by reason of the gifts of God, and thou shalt be perfectly humble.----St. Bonaventure

A soul of precisely this type was St. Mary Magdalen de' Pazzi. It is recorded of her that she was so vile in her own eyes that she constantly looked upon herself as the lowest of creatures and the most disgraceful and abominable thing upon earth. Being one day called to the grate by the Duchess of Bracciano, she said with great feeling, "If my lady Duchess knew that Sister Mary Magdalen is the abomination of this convent, she would not think of naming her, much less of sending for her." In the same light in which she looked upon herself, she desired also to be viewed by others; and when she was treated contemptuously, or in any way humiliated, she rejoiced so much that in reward for the great gladness with which she received humiliations, she was often rapt in ecstasy after them. For this reason she could not bear to see that she was honored and esteemed, and that others had a good opinion of her; and to prevent this, she would often accuse herself in public and in private of her smallest defects, even with exaggeration.

And so, with things which were not really faults, she mentioned them in such a way as to make them seem grave faults. For example, in cutting up a pineapple one day, she ate two morsels that fell from it. Therefore, she accused herself of gluttony, and of eating outside of the refectory, contrary to the Constitution. She took, besides, all possible pains to conceal from others her virtues and holy works, and when she could not do this, she would try to depreciate them by showing that they were full of defects; in this way she would make the most perfect actions seem worthy of reproof, or, at least, merely natural, and springing from her own inclination. And as she could neither prevent nor conceal the ecstasies which were granted to her, it displeased her exceedingly to be looked at, or listened to, while they lasted, even to such a degree that she once complained to the Lord, saying: "O my Jesus! how is it that Thou hast conferred upon me so much that is known only to Thee and myself, and now Thou wilt have me reveal it? Hast Thou not promised me that as Thou wast hidden, so should I also be?" Once when her confessor ordered her to report to her companions what happened to her in these ecstasies, she wept bitterly, as she did also in making the relation, so that finally she went so far as to entreat the Lord to make her no more communications of the kind. She was so far from drawing any complacency or self-esteem from this source that, as if she had committed a fault, she would humble herself after these favors, even to the last novice or lay-sister, and set herself to perform the daily exercises with them, and converse with them with so much humility and charity that it was an admirable thing to see and hear her, first holding communion with the Divine Majesty with such loftiness of ideas, and then, immediately after, to behold her so humble, dependent, and submissive to her neighbors.

9. Humility, which Christ recommended to us both by word and example, ought to include three conditions. First, we are to consider ourselves, in all sincerity, worthy of the contempt of men; secondly, to be glad that others should see what is imperfect in us and what might cause them to despise us; thirdly, when the Lord works any good in us or by our means, to conceal it, if possible, at the sight of our baseness, and if this cannot be done, to ascribe it to the Divine Mercy, and to the merits of others. Whoever shall attain to this humility, happy is he! and to him who shall not attain it, griefs will never be wanting.----St. Vincent de Paul

The first condition was certainly to be found in the heart of St. Clare, who used to say to her companions: "Oh, Sisters, if you knew me well, you would abhor and avoid me, like one stricken with the plague, because I am not what you believe me, but a wicked woman." The venerable Sister Maria Crucifixa, who considered herself the vilest creature upon earth, often spoke thus of herself to her companions, and with feelings of such sincere and perfect humiliation as excited her to a high degree of compunction. This even led her to ask leave to retire to a convent of Penitents, which she said was a fitting place for her, as she ought to live the life of a penitent.

 St. Francis Borgia, too, was so deeply grounded in a low opinion of himself, that he wondered how the people could salute, and not rather stone him, as he passed through the streets. The second condition was also possessed in a high degree by St. Clare. She revealed the greatest faults of her life to all her confessors, intending that they should conceive a bad opinion of her; but when she found this plan failed, she changed her confessors often, in the hope of finding one who would consider her the wretched creature that she really believed herself to be. St. Catherine of Bologna, likewise, not only told all her sins to her confessors, but even intentionally dropped the paper on which they were written, that she might be despised by all. St. John of the Cross, too, when he went to Granada, where he was sent as Provincial Vicar, happened to meet there a brother of his, who was so poor that he lived by alms. When he saw him with his cloak all torn, he was as much pleased as another would have been to see his brother in a rich dress; and when the Grand Duke came to visit him, he brought him forward, saying that was his brother, who was working in the monastery. The third condition was possessed, in the highest degree, by St. Mary Magdalen de' Pazzi, who when asked or commanded by her Superior to make the Sign of the Cross over the sick, or to offer a prayer for anyone in need, always called another to join her in this action or prayer, so that when the favor came it might be attributed not to her, but to the virtue of the other, as she always attributed it herself. The same may be said of an abbess named Sara, of whom it is related, in the Lives of the Fathers, that she had been assailed by a demon for thirteen years, but was finally liberated by her fervent prayers. Then the demon said to her, "Thou hast conquered me, Sara!" But she replied, "It is not I who have conquered thee, but truly it is my Lord Jesus Christ."

Monseigneur de Palafax showed that he possessed in a singular degree this beautiful quality of attributing to God all the good he did. For he looked upon his good actions not as his own choice, but as pure effects of grace; and so, instead of believing, as people in general do, that he acquired by them merit before God, he believed that his obligations to God were increased by doing them. And so he thought, so he spoke; for he was accustomed to confess himself to be under the greatest obligations to God, because He had bestowed upon him great peace of mind, constant repentance for his sins, great patience and consolation in vexations and labors, great love and respect for the poor and for his persecutors, and had taken from him all attachments to riches, honors, convenience, and his own judgment, and had also given him the grace to perform with fervor penances, the visitation of the sick, and many practices of devotion, as well as strength and talent to make wise and useful regulations, to build many churches, and to accomplish everyone of his actions purely and solely for the honor and service of His Divine Majesty. And what is certainly most to be admired is that he derived only confusion and fear from so many good and holy works, which ordinarily produce, even in excellent persons, a certain good opinion and esteem of themselves and make them believe themselves deserving of praise from men and reward from God. He looked upon them, on the contrary, as special graces granted to him by the Divine Goodness, for which he must one day give a strict account; and he thought that on the last day, in presence of all the world, they would be so many points of accusation against him because he had not corresponded to so many Divine favors by a better and more perfect life. The humility of St. Vincent de Paul was accompanied by all three of these conditions. He had so low an opinion of himself that he considered himself a great sinner, a cause of scandal, and unworthy to remain even in his own Congregation. Wherefore, he often spoke of himself as a hardened sinner, an abominable sinner, unworthy to live, and standing in the utmost need of the mercy of God on account of the abominations of his life. One day, prostrate before his missionaries, he said with great feeling: "If you could see my miseries, you would drive me from the house, to which I am a loss, a burden, and a scandal. I am surely unworthy to remain in the Congregation, on account of the scandal that I give." Because he truly felt thus, he desired that others, too, should feel so; and, therefore, he was pleased to have his imperfections visible to all, and he even manifested them openly on occasions, to the end that he might be despised and lightly regarded by all. For this reason, he often said that he was the son of a swineherd, a poor grammar student, and no scholar. For the same cause, he acknowledged as his nephew, before all in the house and even before some noble visitors, a poor young man who had come to ask his aid. And as he felt at first some unwillingness to acknowledge him when he heard of his arrival, he often accused himself of this to his companions as a great fault, exaggerating too the pride that caused it. He could not bear to hear himself praised, or see himself held in high esteem; and so when a poor woman told him, in presence of some persons of rank, that she had been a servant of his mother, hoping to induce him to give her alms, the Saint, to whom such flattery was unpleasant, answered quickly: "My poor woman, you are mistaken. My mother never kept a servant, but she was a servant herself, and afterwards, the wife of a poor peasant." For this cause, too, he was never heard to speak of the excellent works which he had carried on, nor of the wonderful circumstances in which he had been placed. A remarkable proof of this is that though innumerable occasions offered themselves to speak of his slavery in Tunis, especially in the exhortations which he addressed to his Congregation and others, to move them to aid the poor slaves in Barbary, he never let fall a word concerning himself, nor about what he had said or done to convert his master, and escape with him from the hands of the Infidels, nor as to anything else that happened to him in that country.

This is a rare case, on account of the pleasure which everyone naturally feels in narrating the perils, the dangers and difficulties from which he has happily escaped, especially when his success reveals some virtue and gives occasion for praise. But when necessity, or the good of others, sometimes constrained him to tell something which he had done for the glory of God, if anything had gone ill he attributed to himself whatever might cause humiliation, though he had given no occasion for it; but if all went well, he told of it in very humble terms, setting all to the account of the zeal and labor of others, and suppressing so far as he could those circumstances which would bring praise to himself; and he always ascribed even the slightest good that he did to God, as its primary and only cause. For example, he never said, "I did this; I said this; I thought of this"; but rather, "God inspired me with this thought; put into my mouth these words; gave me strength to do this"; and so on. The humility of St. Francis de Sales was, says St. Jane Frances de Chantal, humility of heart. For it was his maxim that the love of our abjection ought to be with us at every step; and, therefore, he strove to conceal the gifts of grace as much as he could, and endeavored to appear of less account than he really was, so that he was often slow and late in giving his opinion upon subjects with which he was well acquainted.

10. We ought always to consider others as our superiors, and to yield to them, even though they be our inferiors, by offering them every kind of respect and service. Oh, what a beautiful thing it would be, if it should please God to confirm us well in such a practice.----St. Vincent de Paul

This was precisely the practice of this Saint. He made great account of all, and considered all better than himself, more prudent, more perfect, more capable, and more fit for any employment, and therefore he felt no difficulty in yielding his own opinion to anyone. We read of a good nun named Sister Rachel Pastore who had formed such an humble opinion of herself that she regarded all persons, without exceptions, as her superior; and with this sentiment deeply fixed in her heart, she abased and humbled herself in the presence of all.

11. Our Lord says that whoever wishes to become greatest of all must make himself least of all. This is a truth that all Christians believe; how happens it, then, that so few practice it?----St. Vincent de Paul

The same Saint was one of these few. As he had always but a low opinion of himself and had taken so much pains to lower himself beneath all, God continually exalted him by the many great works which He entrusted to him, by the high regard in which he was generally held and by the abundant benedictions which God bestowed on all his actions. St. Paula, by the testimony of St. Jerome, excelled so much in self-abasement that if a stranger attracted by her fame had come to visit her, he would never have recognized her, but would rather have supposed her to be one of the least of her own servants. And when she was surrounded by bands of young maidens, in dress, speech and manner, she always seemed the humblest of them all.

12. Do not believe that thou hast made any advance in perfection unless thou considerest thyself the worst of all, and desirest that all should be preferred to thee; for it is the mark of those who are great in the eyes of God to be small in their own eyes; and the more glorious they are in the sight of God, the more vile they appear in their own sight.----St. Teresa
One day when St. Anthony was praying, he heard a voice saying, "Anthony, thou hast not reached the perfection of a man named Coriarius, who lives in Alexandria." The Saint went immediately to find him, and inquired about his life. Coriarius answered: "I do not know that I have ever done anything good, and so, when I rise in the morning, I say in my heart that all people in this city will be saved by their good works, and I alone shall be lost for my sins; and I say the same thing in the evening, in all sincerity, before going to rest." "No! no! no!" replied St. Anthony, "thou hast secured Heaven for thyself by thy wise practice; but I have unwisely failed to attain this excellence of thine."
In the Lives of the Fathers, a certain monk is mentioned who, in giving an account of his interior to the Abbot Sisois, said that he kept continually before his mind the thought of God. The Abbot answered: "That is nothing great. The great thing would be that you should see yourself below every creature."
One of the chief men of Alexandria, having been received into a monastery, the Abbot judged from his appearance and other signs that he was a hard man, haughty, and inflated with worldly pride. Wishing to lead him by the safe road of humility, he placed him in the porter's lodge, with instructions to throw himself at the feet of all who passed in or out and to beg them to pray to God for him, because he was a great sinner. He obeyed with exactness, and persevered in this exercise for seven years, acquiring thereby great humility. The Abbot then thought it time to give him the habit and admit him to the society of the other members of the Order. But when he heard of this, he implored and entreated to be left as he was for the short time which, as he said, remained to him of life. His request was granted, and he proved to be a true prophet----for, after ten days he died, in great peace and confidence in regard to his salvation. This is related by St. John Climacus, who says that he had spoken with this man, and when he inquired how he occupied himself in all that time when he was remaining at the gate, he replied: "My constant exercise was to consider myself unworthy to stay in the monastery, and to enjoy the sight and company of the Fathers, or even to raise my eyes to look at them."
We read of the venerable Maria Seraphina di Dio that she seemed to have no eyes except to see and exaggerate her own defects, and to admire the virtues of others. So, when she saw others performing any good action, she would say, with feeling: "How happy they are! All, except me, attend to the services of God!" When she saw any going to the confessors, she thought they would only have to hear and speak of God, while she reproached herself that she went solely to tell her errors and sins. If she ever saw anyone commit a fault, she always found means to excuse or palliate it, and thus she was able, in spite of the sins of others, to retain the opinion which she held of herself as being the worst of all.

13. When one is very remarkable for virtue, and truly great before God, and favored and esteemed by Him, yet with all this remains little and vile in his own eyes----here is that humility so grateful to God and so rare among men, which was found most perfect in the Blessed Virgin, who, on hearing herself chosen to be the Mother of God, acknowledged herself to be a servant and handmaiden.----St. Bernard

St. Mary Magdalen de' Pazzi was an admirable example of this. Though she had arrived at high perfection and sanctity and saw herself enriched by God with extraordinary graces and favors, even to the power of working miracles; yet with all this, she had so low an esteem and so poor an opinion of herself as to astonish those who knew her. Nor was this a matter of pure imagination or of mere words, but true and sincere, and was clearly shown by an ecstasy, in which the Lord showed her the strength and virtue He intended to communicate to her against the fierce temptations she had endured from the devil, and she broke forth with these words: "What confusion for me! that upon the lowest and vilest creature upon earth, as I am, Thou designest to bestow the immensity of the treasures of Thy liberality and mercy!"

It was the same with St. Vincent de Paul. Though his virtues were known to all, in spite of the contrivances that he used to conceal them, yet to him alone they remained unknown; because, by putting his own baseness continually before his eyes, he cut off the view of them; so that, although he was rich and abounding in virtues and celestial gifts, he always esteemed himself poor, needy, and destitute of all spiritual good. Thence came the title that he usually gave himself: "This poor wretch."

When St. Teresa reflected upon the favors she received from God in such great abundance, she humbled herself the more on account of them, saying that the Lord sustained her extreme weakness in this way, and that these supports proved how great was her tendency to fall, as a house is shown to be tottering, by the props set up to hold it.

14. Vain self-complacency and the desire of making a show of being spoken of, of having our conduct praised, and of hearing it said that we succeed well and are doing wonders----this is an evil which makes us forget God, which infects our holiest actions, and is, of all vices, the most injurious to progress in the spiritual life. I do not understand how anyone can believe and hold it as a truth of faith that he who exalts himself shall be abased if he desires to pass for a man of worth, a person of prudence, foresight, and ability.----St. Vincent de Paul

The widely known Franciscan, Brother Justin, entered the Order of St. Francis after refusing great favors and most honorable offices which the King of Hungary offered him. He then advanced so far in religion, that he had frequent ecstasies. One day while dining at the table in the monastery, he was raised in the air and carried over the heads of the Religious, to pray before a picture of the Virgin which was painted high on the wall. On account of this wonder, Pope Eugenius IV sent for him and embraced him, not allowing him to kiss his feet; then, seating him by his side, he had a long conversation with him, and gave him many presents and indulgences. This favor made him vain, and St. John Capestran meeting him on his return, said: "Alas! thou didst go forth an angel, and thou art come back a demon!" In fact, increasing every day in insolence, he killed a monk with a knife. After a term of imprisonment, he escaped into the kingdom of Naples, where he committed many crimes, and finally died in prison.

A holy monk once passed a night in a convent of nuns where there was a boy continually tormented by a devil. Through all that night the child remained undisturbed, and so, in the morning, the monk was requested to take him home to his monastery and keep him until the cure was complete. He did this, and then as nothing more happened to the boy he said to the other monks, with some complacency: "The devil made light of those nuns in tormenting this boy; but since he has come into this monastery of God's servants, he has no longer dared to approach him." No sooner had he said this than the boy, in the presence of them all, began to suffer as he had previously, and the monk bewailed his error. Another monk once boasted, in presence of his abbot St. Pachomius, that he had made two mats in one day, when the Saint reproved him and ordered him to carry the two mats on his shoulders before the other monks and ask the pardon and prayers of all, because he had valued these two mats more than the Kingdom of Heaven. He also commanded him to remain five months in his cell without ever allowing himself to be seen, and to make two mats a day for all that time. From his earliest years, St. Thomas Aquinas was always opposed to receiving praise, and he never uttered a word which might lead to it. Therefore, he never felt any temptation to vanity or self-complacency, as he himself testified to Brother Reginald, saying he rendered thanks to God that he had never been tempted by pride. St. Vincent de Paul made this resolution to close the path against self-complacency: "When I am performing some public action, and may complete it with honor, I will perform it indeed, but I will omit those details which might give it luster or attract notice to myself. Of two thoughts which come into my mind, I will manifest the lower, to humble myself, and I will keep back the higher, to make in my heart a sacrifice of it to God; for it is at times expedient to do a thing less well outwardly, rather than to be pleased with ourselves for having done it well, and to be applauded and esteemed for it; and it is a truth of the Gospel that nothing pleases the Lord so much as humility of heart and simplicity of word and deed. It is here that His spirit resides, and it is in vain to seek it elsewhere." This resolution he observed carefully. One day when traveling with three of his priests, he told them, by way of diversion, an adventure which had once happened to him. But in the midst of his story he stopped short, striking his breast, and saying that he was a wretch, full of pride and always talking of himself. When he reached home, prostrating himself before them, he asked pardon for the scandal he had given them by talking about himself.

15. What is it, O my God, that we expect to gain by appearing well before creatures, and by pleasing them? What does it matter to us if we are blamed by them, and considered worthless, provided we are great and faultless before Thee? Ah, we never come fully to an understanding of this truth, and so we never succeed in standing upon the summit of perfection! The Saints had no greater pleasure than to live unknown and abject in the hearts of all.----St. Bernard

A holy bishop, in order to live unknown, left his diocese, and putting on a poor dress went secretly to Jerusalem, where he worked as a laborer. There a nobleman saw him several times sleeping on the ground, with a column of fire rising from his body even to the heavens. Wondering at this, he asked him privately who he was. He answered he was a poor man who lived by his work, and had no other means of support. The count, not satisfied with this, urged him to reveal the whole truth, and the bishop, after exacting a promise of secrecy during his lifetime, told him who he was, and how he had left his country to escape from renown and esteem, as he held it to be unworthy of a Christian, who ought always to have in mind the insults and reproaches heaped upon his Lord, to enjoy the honor and reverence of men.

St. Nicholas of Bari twice threw money secretly, by night, into the house of a gentleman of ruined fortune, that he might be able to give dowries to his daughters, without which they could not be married. On a third visit for the same purpose, he was discovered, and hastily fled.

The Abbot Pitirus, a man celebrated for sanctity, desired to know whether there was in the world any soul more perfect than his own, that he might be able to learn from such a one how to serve God better. Then an Angel appeared to him, and said: "Go to a certain convent in the Thebaid. Four hundred and ninety nuns dwell there, among them one called Isidora, who wears a diadem upon her head. Know that she is very far more perfect than thyself." Isidora was a good young girl, who had set her heart upon abasing herself for Christ's sake as much as she could. So she wore a rag twisted around her head, went barefoot, remained always alone, except when she was obliged to be present at the common exercises; she did not eat with the others, but collected for her own food the scraps they had left; and for drink she used the water in which the dishes had been washed: so that all the rest looked on her with so much aversion, that no one could have been induced ever to eat with her. She was, in fact, the jest and scorn of all, and by all insulted, ill-treated, and looked upon as a fool. She, however, never spoke ill of any, harmed no one, never murmured nor complained of any ill treatment she received. Pitirus then arrived at the convent, and after requesting the abbess to send all the nuns to the grate, he could discover upon none of them the sign given by the Angel, so that he confidently asserted that they were not all there. "Indeed," they answered, "no one is absent, except a fool, who always stays shut up in the kitchen." "Well, send for her," he replied. But she, who had known interiorly what was to happen, had hidden herself that she might escape all connection with the matter. Being found after a long search, and earnestly entreated by her superior, she at last came. Pitirus recognized her as soon as he beheld her, and instantly falling at her feet, recommended himself to her prayers. Astonished at such an action, the nuns said to him, "Father, you are mistaken; this is a fool." "You are the fools:' replied the Abbot. "Know that she is holier than myself or you!" Then they all threw themselves at her feet, confessed their error, and asked pardon for the wrong they had done her. But she could not bear to receive so much honor, so that she fled from the house a few days after, and was never again seen.

The Empress Leonora, having discovered that her confessor, in response to many requests, had written out some of her heroic and virtuous actions that they might be published after her death, went many times to visit him in his last illness. On one of these occasions she came from his room with a bundle of manuscripts, and when she reached the courtyard where a fire was burning, she threw them into it. It was commonly believed that these were the papers relating to herself, which she had obtained from him by many entreaties, for after his death no such record was found among his writings, though it was known to have existed. But in another matter she did not succeed so well, though she made every effort. When very near death, she remembered a certain chest in which she kept the treasure of her instruments of penance. She had not previously been able to take them out herself, and now she could do nothing, as her speech had failed. And so, in great distress, she made signs to her confessor, pointing to the spot, and urging him to take out and carry away what was there. But the Lord, Who exalts the humble, did not permit these signs to be fully understood, until after her death, when this hidden treasure was revealed. All were moved to tears as they drew out garments stained with blood, scourges----some, bloodstained; others, frayed and worn with long use; many little chains with sharp points, and shirts woven of horsehair, all instruments with which she had macerated her innocent flesh.

16. When you see anyone who desires esteem and honors and avoids contempt, and who, when contradicted or neglected, shows resentment and takes it ill, you may be sure that such a one, though he were to perform miracles, is very far from perfection, for all his virtue is without foundation.----St. Thomas Aquinas

That the Angelic Doctor held this belief truly before God is certain, for his conduct proves it. Not only did he not desire honors and applause, but he abhorred them and avoided them as far as he could. He was offered the Archbishopric of Naples by Clement IV, at a time when his family, being out of favor with the Emperor, had fallen into great poverty. He was, therefore, earnestly entreated by them, as well as by others, to accept it. However, he not only refused it but obtained from the same Pope a promise that no dignity should ever be offered him for the future. Besides, he entreated his superiors not to compel him to take the degree of Doctor, as he greatly preferred being learned to being called so; and if he finally took it, it was purely from obedience. But instead of avoiding contempt, he always accepted it with a tranquil soul and a serene countenance. When he was a student, he did not disdain to receive as monitor a fellow student who, finding that he talked but little, attributed it to ignorance and want of talent, and called him 'the dumb ox?' But he was soon undeceived, when he saw that he had so much talent that he could easily serve not only as a monitor but even as a master to himself. One day when the Saint was reading aloud in the refectory at dinner, he was corrected for mispronouncing a word, and though he knew that he had pronounced it properly, he nevertheless repeated, it in the way he was told. Being afterwards asked by his companions why he had done so, "Because," he replied, "it matters little whether we pronounce a syllable long or short, but it matters very much to be humble and obedient."

St. Clare once said: "If I should see myself honored by all the world, it would not arouse in me the slightest vanity; and if I should see myself contemned and despised by all the world, I should not feel the least perturbation." St. Philip Neri never seemed grieved or displeased at
any insult or contempt he might receive. This was a trait so visible and so well known among his associates, that they used to say, "Anything can be said to Father Philip, for nothing ever troubles him." When it was one day reported to him that some people had called him an old simpleton, he laughed and was much pleased at it.

St. Anthony, hearing a monk very much praised, treated him contemptuously; and when he saw that he took this ill, he said: "This man is like a palace, rich and elegant without, but within, plundered by robbers."

17. I am despised and derided, and I resent it; just so do peacocks and apes. I am despised and derided, and I rejoice at it; thus did the Apostle. This is the deepest grade of humility, to be pleased with humiliation and abjection, as vain minds are pleased with great honors; and to find pain in marks of honor and esteem, as they find it in contempt and affronts.----St. Francis de Sales

St. Dominic remained more willingly in the diocese of Carcassone than in that of Toulouse, where he had converted so many heretics. On being asked his reason, he replied that in the latter he received many honors, but in the former only injuries and insults.

St. Felix the Capuchin experienced great affliction in seeing himself honored and esteemed; and he was often heard to say that he would have been glad to be frightfully deformed, that all might abhor him. He repeated many times that it would have been more agreeable to him to have been dragged and scourged through the streets of Rome, than to have been reverenced by the people.

St. Constantius, when he had taken minor orders, served in a church near Ancona, where he lived so much apart from the world that he had a widespread reputation for sanctity, and people came from different countries to see him. Among others came a peasant, and inquired for him. The Saint was standing upon a ladder, trimming the lamps; but as he was of a small and delicate figure, the peasant, on looking at him, was sorry that he had made the journey, as it seemed to him for nothing, and ridiculing him in his heart, said to himself, but aloud: "I supposed this would be a great man; but for anything that I can see, he has not even the shape of a man." Constantius, hearing this, instantly left the lamp, and coming down with great haste and gladness, ran up to the rustic and embraced him, saying, "You, alone, out of so many, have your eyes open and have been able to recognize me as I am."

The venerable Sister Maria Crucifixa disliked nothing so much as to hear herself praised, so that when she found others had a good opinion of her, she could not refrain from weeping. She was most unwilling that her supernatural favors should come to the knowledge of others. Therefore when she had ecstasies, the nuns all left her at the first sign of returning to herself, to avoid wounding her feelings. Only her own sister remained with her, who gave her to understand that she looked upon these trances only as fainting fits, caused by weakness, for which she pitied her and offered her remedies. But all this was not enough; so great was her abhorrence of self-esteem, that she believed the love of God to be inseparable from the plausible conceit of being considered a Saint. She, therefore, went so far as to make this prayer: "O Lord! I wish to obey Thee; I wish, at Thy touch, to spring up towards Heaven; but Thy way harbors a horrible monster, human esteem, which is for me an insufferable danger; for no one can love Thee without gaining high reputation. I would wish to walk always in Thy way, and this alone is bitter to me, nor do 1 find any obstacles interposed by Hell but this. So I remain here waiting until Thou shalt either slay this monster, or change my path."

18. I pray you, do not make much account of certain trifles which some call wrongs and grievances; for we seem to manufacture these things out of straws, like children, with our points of honor. A truly humble person never believes that he can be wronged in anything. Truly, we ought to be ashamed to resent whatever is said or done against us; for it is the greatest shame in the world to see that our Creator bears so many insults from His creatures, and that we resent even a little word that is contradictory. Let contemplative souls, in particular, take notice that if they do not find themselves quite resolved to pardon any injury or affront which may be inflicted upon them, they cannot trust much to their prayer. For the soul which God truly unites to Himself by so lofty a method of prayer, feels none of these things, and no longer cares whether she is esteemed or not, or whether she is spoken well of or ill; nay rather honors and repose give her more pain than dishonor and trials.----St. Teresa

If St. Francis de Sales saw that his friends showed displeasure at the malignity of those who spoke ill of him, he would say to them: "Have I ever given you authority to show resentment in my place? Let them talk! This is a cross of words, a tribulation of wind, the memory of which dies out with the blaze! He must be very delicate, that cannot bear the buzzing of a fly. Would it be well for us to pretend to be blameless? Who knows if these people do not see my faults better than I myself do, and if they are not the ones who truly love me? Often we call a thing evil-speaking, because it is not to our taste. What injury is it if one has a bad opinion of us, since we ought to have the same of ourselves?"

The venerable Maria Crucifixa showed extreme pleasure when she saw herself little regarded or esteemed. Therefore the nuns, to accommodate themselves to her disposition, usually treated her with disrespect, and made little account of her, calling her awkward, stupid, and ignorant. So, when they wished to lead her into spiritual conversation, by which their fervor was greatly increased, they said to her: "Come now, Sister Maria Crucifixa, bring out some of your blunders; let us hear your nonsense." Then believing that she was truly to serve as the butt of their jesting, she would readily begin to speak. But it was still necessary that they should appear to disregard what she was saying by seeming inattentive, and whispering together now and then while she was speaking; otherwise, she would stop. And, for the same reason, they could none of them recommend themselves to her prayers, because this seemed to her a proof that they considered her fit to intercede for them with God. So, in order to obtain her prayers, they would tell her that she was known to be such a miserable creature that the others were obliged to recommend her to God, and therefore, not to be ungrateful, she ought to do as much for them.
19. Whoever is humble, on being humiliated, humbles himself the more; on being rejected, rejoices in the disgrace; on being placed in low and mean occupations, acknowledges himself to be more honored than he deserves, and performs them willingly; and only abhors and avoids exalted and honorable offices.----St. Jane Frances de Chantal

A young knight, in a transport of boyish rage, once told St. Vincent de Paul that he was an old fool. Thereupon, the Saint instantly threw himself at his feet and asked pardon for the occasion he had perhaps given him to use such words. A Jansenist, who had tried to instill his false doctrines into the same Saint, at last grew angry at his failure and loaded him with abuse, saying, among other things, that he was an ignorant fellow, and he was astonished that his Congregation could endure him as Superior General. To which he replied: "I am still more astonished at it myself, for I am more ignorant than you can possibly imagine." Some monks who had heard of the great fame of the Abbot Agatho resolved to test his virtue. Accordingly, they went to him and said that many were disedified by him, because he was proud, sensual, given to complaint, and, moreover, covered his own defects by laying them to others. He replied that he indeed had all these vices, and prostrate at their feet, he entreated them to recommend him to God and obtain for him the pardon of so many sins. They departed with great astonishment and edification.

When the Abbot Moses was ordained priest, his bishop ordered the clergy to drive him contemptuously away when he should approach the altar, and to listen to what he would say. They did so, saying to him, "Go away, wicked heathen!"

But he humbly withdrew, saying to himself: "This is suitable for thee, wicked wretch, who, though unworthy to be called a man, hast presumed to dwell among men!"

On account of the singularity of her life, St. Rose of Lima was often reproached and abused by her mother and brothers. But so great was her humility that she always thought she deserved worse treatment, and therefore never even excused herself, but rather amplified and added to what she had done, that they might not seem to be wrong in punishing her; and all this afforded her the greatest happiness.

St. Mary Magdalen de' Pazzi willingly occupied herself in laborious tasks; and the lower and meaner they were, with the more pleasure and readiness did she accomplish them. The same thing was done by St. Aloysius Gonzaga.

What efforts were made by many great men, especially in the ecclesiastical state, to avoid being raised to lofty positions! St. Philip Benizi, hearing that the cardinals, immediately after the death of the Pope, wished to elect him as his successor, concealed himself on a mountain until the election of another had taken place.

St. Gregory the Great, after being elected Supreme Pontiff, escaped by stealth and hid himself in a grotto. After being discovered there, by means of a column of fire which appeared above the cave, he was forced to accept the dignity; but he still entreated the Emperor Maurice, though
without success, not to confirm his election. St. Ambrose, being miraculously chosen Bishop of Milan by the mouth of an infant too young to speak, fled from his house by night, and even did many things to make the people believe him a man of evil life.

St. John Chrysostom, to avoid being made a bishop, fled into the solitude of the deserts; and St. Amonius the hermit, to escape being made a priest, went so far as to cut off one of his ears.

20. Missionaries should rejoice to be considered poor in talent, birth and virtue, the dregs and off scouring of the world. They should be glad whenever there arises any opportunity for abjection and contempt, even though it be not for themselves alone, but also extending to the Congregation. And by this test they will be able to know what progress they are making in humility.----St. Vincent de Paul
This Saint, who knew well the great value of humiliations, was so fond of them that a worthy ecclesiastic, who knew him thoroughly, said that he had never been acquainted with any man in the world, who was so ambitious to rise and to be esteemed and honored, as this humble servant of God was desirous to lower and abase himself, and to receive humiliation, confusion, and contempt, so that he seemed to have chosen them as his treasure even in this life. For this cause, he used every effort to take advantage of all occasions of the kind that might offer themselves, and from everything he derived motives for humiliation. And with the same earnestness that he sought it for himself, he desired it also for his Congregation, which he was eager to have despised and held in low estimation. And whenever this happened, he rejoiced not a little. St. Jane Frances de Chantal once undertook an affair of much importance, and then instantly abandoned it, on considering that success would reflect great credit upon herself. To those who wondered how she had been able to wind up and dispose of so important a matter so readily, she answered: "As soon as the splendor of the Sovereign's majesty revealed itself to my eyes, I was so dazzled and blinded that I could no longer see anything. Ah!" she repeated many times, "the splendor of the daughters of the Visitation is to be without splendor, and all their glory lies in humility and abjection."
21. To bear abasement and reproach is the touchstone of humility, and, at the same time, of true virtue. For in this, one becomes conformed to Jesus Christ, Who is the true model of all solid virtues.----St. Francis de Sales

The blessed Seraphino, a Capuchin lay-brother, being gate keeper, was accustomed to pass much time in prayer in a little chapel in the garden, opposite to the gate. One day the Father Guardian, passing that way with a visiting Father, said to his companion, "Would you like to see a Saint?" Then approaching the chapel, he reproved Seraphino severely, saying: "What are you doing here, hypocrite? The Lord teaches us to pray in a room with closed doors, and do you pray in public to be seen? Get up, rascal, and be ashamed of deceiving poor strangers in such a way!" Delighted with these reproofs, Brother Seraphino kissed the ground, and then went away with a countenance as full of satisfaction as if he had just heard some news which was much to his pleasure or advantage. Another day, he was asked by a companion for a needle and a little thread. He replied that he had a needle but no thread; when the other said angrily: "It is plain that you are a fool, and were never good for anything! What can the Order do with such an incapable man as you are? Go away, for I cannot bear to look at you!" Then, without any anger or discomposure, he turned away from the monk who had reproached him, and after a little while came back with his usual serenity of countenance, to the great edification of his fellow religious.
In the Lives of the Fathers, we read that St. Amonius had arrived at such great perfection that he was as insensible to insults as a stone; and no matter how many were inflicted upon him, he never considered that any injury had been done him. In the same Lives, it is related that the Abbot John one day told his disciples the story of a youth, who, for having grievously insulted his master, was condemned to remain for three years in menial employment and to receive all the insults that might be inflicted upon him, without ever avenging himself at all. Returning to his master after this time had expired, he was told that for the next three years he must reward whoever did him an injury. Having faithfully done this, he was sent to Athens to study philosophy. He entered the school of an old master who was accustomed to ill-treat all his scholars at their entrance. He did the same in this case; but the newcomer only laughed, and on being asked the reason of his conduct, he answered: "How can I help laughing, when I have so long paid for ill-usage, and now I find it without paying anything?" "My children," added the holy Abbot, when he had finished his story, "submission to injuries is the road by which our Fathers have passed to go to the Lord; and difficult as it appears at first, you see that by habit it becomes not only easy, but even pleasant."
22. He who is truly humble must desire in truth to be despised, mocked, persecuted, and blamed, although wrongfully. If he wishes to imitate Christ, how can he do it better than in this way? Oh, how wise will he, one day, be seen to be, who rejoiced in being accounted vile and even a fool! for such was wisdom itself esteemed.----St. Teresa

Cassian narrates of the Abbot Paphnutius that, being Superior of a monastery and much revered and esteemed by his monks on account of his venerable age and admirable life, he disliked so much honor, and preferring to see himself humiliated, forgotten and despised, he left the monastery secretly, by night, in the dress of a secular. He then went to the monastery of St. Pachomius, which was at a great distance from his own, and remained many days at the gate, humbly asking for the habit. He prostrated himself before the monks, who scornfully reproached him with having spent his life in the enjoyment of the world and then coming at last to serve God, urged by necessity, because he had no means of living. Finally, moved by his urgent entreaties, they gave him the habit, with the charge of the garden, assigning to him another monk as his superior, to whom he was to look for everything. Now, not content with performing his duties with great exactness and humility, he consequently took pains to do all that the rest avoided----all the lowest and most disagreeable tasks in the house----and would often rise secretly in the night and do many things that the others were to perform, so that in the morning they would wonder, not knowing how their work came to be done. He continued to live in this manner for three years, much pleased with the good opportunity he had to labor and be despised, which was the thing he had so greatly desired. Meanwhile his monks, feeling grievously the loss of such a Father, had gone out in different bands to seek him; they finally found him as he was manuring the ground, and threw themselves at his feet. The bystanders were amazed, but still more so when they heard that this was Paphnutius, whose name was so celebrated among them; and they immediately asked his pardon. The holy old man wept at his misfortune in having been discovered through the envy of the demon, and at having lost the treasure which he had seemed to find. Even by force he was carried back to his monastery, where he was received with indescribable gladness, and watched and guarded with the utmost diligence, that he might not again escape.

23. If we should well consider all that is human and imperfect in us, we should find but too much cause to humiliate ourselves before God and men, even before our inferiors.----St. Vincent de Paul

A holy woman, once having asked light of the Lord that she might know herself well, saw so much ugliness and so many miseries in her own heart that, not being able to bear the sight, she prayed to God to relieve her from such distress; for she said if it had lasted longer she would have sunk under it.

The venerable Mother Seraphina di Dio once had a very clear supernatural illumination which made her see her soul full of so many and such abominable faults that it seemed like a receptacle of all that was foul; and she judged it must be even worse in reality; for she said, "If I had more light, I should see more." "It has often come into my mind," she added, "to retire to some cave, when I think how little I exercise myself in virtue; as to humility, in particular, I seem to myself a Lucifer. Religion is beautiful for those who practice virtue, but not for me, who cultivate only vices." Therefore, when she received insults and contempt, she was never disturbed, nor complained, but said: "They speak well; they do well; that suits me well." Nor was any adversity or trial in her whole life ever sufficient to make her change her sentiments.

24. In my opinion, we shall never acquire true humility unless we raise our eyes to behold God. Looking upon His greatness, the soul sees better her own littleness; beholding His purity, she is the more aware of her own uncleanness; considering His patience, she feels how far she is from being patient; in fine, turning her glance upon the Divine perfections, she discovers in herself so many imperfections that she would gladly close her eyes to them.----St. Teresa

This was, in truth, one of the principal fountains from which St. Vincent de Paul drew that humble opinion which he had of himself, as well as his great desire for humiliations. That is to say, he derived them from the profound knowledge which he had of the infinite perfections of God, and of the extreme weakness and misery of creatures; so that he thought it a manifest injustice not to humiliate himself always and in all things. In a conference one day with his priests, he spoke thus: "In truth, if each of us will give his attention to knowing himself well before God, he will find it to be the most just and reasonable thing to despise and humble himself. For, if we seriously consider the natural and continual inclination we have to evil, our natural incapacity for good, and the experience we all have had that even when we think we have succeeded well in something and that our plans are wise, the matter often turns out quite different from our anticipations, and God permits us to be considered wanting in judgment; and that, finally, in all we think, say, or do, both in substance and circumstances, we are always filled and encompassed with motives for humiliation and confusion----how shall we not consider ourselves worthy to be repulsed and despised in reflecting upon such things, and in seeing ourselves so far from the holiness and sublime perfections of God, and from the marvellous operations of His grace, and from the life of Christ our Lord?"

25. One who wishes to become truly holy ought not, except in a few unusual cases, to excuse himself, although that for which he is blamed be not true. Jesus Christ acted thus. He heard Himself charged with evil which He had not done, but said not a word to free Himself from the disgrace.----St. Philip Neri

The Empress Leonora was treated by her mother always with harshness, and without any appearance of affection. For the smallest things that were observed by no one else, her mother reproved her sharply at every turn, and frequently struck her. The good child remained always in silence, with her eyes cast down, uttering not a word in her defense, still less complaining or weeping. Often when the tempest has passed, she would kneel and kiss her mother's feet, asking her pardon and promising amendment.

St. Vincent de Paul never justified himself against the complaints and calumnies brought against him and his Congregation, whatever trouble or loss they might cause. Once when he had used his influence to prevent a bishopric from being conferred on one of his subjects, whom he considered unworthy of it, the disappointed candidate invented an enormous calumny against him, which came to the ears of the Queen. One day, meeting the Saint, she told him laughingly that he had been accused of such and such a thing. He calmly replied, "Madam, I am a great sinner." When her Majesty said that he ought to assert his innocence, he answered, "Quite as much was said against Christ our Lord, and He never justified Himself." It happened that, one time, in a public hall, a nobleman said that the missionary zeal of St. Vincent's followers had greatly cooled. When the Saint heard this, he would not say a word in defense, though he could easily have proved the contrary of the assertion, for in that year and the preceding more missions had been given than ever before. To one who urged him to take notice of the affair by telling him that this gentleman, though not knowing the truth, was continuing to speak evil of the Congregation, he answered, "We will let him talk. For my part, I will never justify myself except by my works." It chanced, one day, that a prelate, having summoned the Saint to an assembly where many persons of rank were present, reproved him publicly for a thing for which he was not at all to blame. But he, without a word of complaint or excuse, immediately knelt and asked pardon, to the great admiration of those present, to whom his innocence was known. One of them, a man of much piety and learning, after the assembly was over and the Saint was gone, said that he was a man of extraordinary virtue and of a supernatural and Divine spirit.

The venerable Mother Seraphina never excused herself, even to her confessors, though they might blame her wrongfully; nor did she explain how matters really stood, unless obliged by obedience. Once, in particular, when she was sharply reproved by her director, though the thing laid to her charge was not true, she replied only: "You are right." Afterwards, he commanded her to tell him the truth, and on hearing it he was sorry for his wrongful accusations.

26. Sometimes a soul rises more towards perfection by not excusing herself than by ten sermons. Since by this means one begins to acquire freedom, and indifference as to what good or evil may be said. Nay more; by a habit of not replying, one arrives at such a point that when he hears anything said of himself, it does not seem as if it related to him, but rather like an affair belonging to someone else.----St. Teresa

Father Alvarez, the confessor of St. Teresa, having been falsely accused of a grave fault in a provincial assembly and seriously reproved for it in public, said nothing, either in public or private, in his own defense. Afterwards, God rewarded this heroic silence with extraordinary favors.

Among the ancient monks, there was one named Eulogius, very humble and patient. Wherefore, the lax and negligent threw all their faults upon him; and he, being corrected and reproved for them, humbly accepted, without any denial or excuse, the penances which were given for them and performed them with great patience. The older Fathers, seeing him every day under reprehension, were displeased with him, and told the Abbot that he ought to apply some remedy, for they could not bear this state of things any longer. The Abbot took time, and, in prayer, entreated the Lord to enlighten him, and teach him what he ought to do with this brother. Then God revealed to him his innocence and great sanctity. Being extremely astonished at this, he called together all the monks, and said to them: "Believe me, I would prefer the faults of Eulogius with his patience and humility, to all the good works and virtues of many others who murmur against him, and think they are doing well themselves. And that you may see how great is the virtue of our companion, let each of you bring here the mat on which he sleeps." When all the mats were brought, he had a good fire lit and threw them all into it. Everyone was instantly burned except that of Brother Eulogius, which remained. Then, prostrate upon the ground, they all asked pardon of God, and conceived the highest opinion of their brother. But he was grieved at being discovered, and the next night fled to the desert, where he would be unknown; for he knew very well that no one can be honored in this world and in the next.

27. Here is one of the best means to acquire humility: fix well in mind this maxim: One is as much as he is in the sight of God, and no more.----Thomas a Kempis

St. Francis made a beginning of sanctity by trampling underfoot human respect; for he had thoroughly penetrated the truth of this holy maxim which he often revolved in his mind.

In this solid maxim, St. Francis de Sales was equally well-founded and established. Therefore, he had his own reputation very little at heart, and did not care at all how others might feel in regard to him. In conversation, he once said: "Oh that it were God's pleasure that my innocence should never be recognized even in the day of universal judgment, but that it should remain always hidden and eternally concealed in the secret recesses of the eternal wisdom!" And again: "If the grace of God had caused me to perform any work of righteousness, or had wrought any good by my means, I should be content that in the day of judgment, when the secrets of hearts are manifested, God alone should know of my righteousness; and my unrighteousness, on the contrary, should be seen by every creature."
28. All those who have truly wished to arrive at the possession of humility have applied themselves with all their power to the practice of humiliation, because they know that this is the quickest and shortest road thereto.----St. Bernard

The blessed Alessandro Sauli, Bishop of Aleria, a man of learning and esteemed in his Order, willingly occupied himself, even when he was Superior, in humble employments such as sweeping the house, washing the dishes, drawing water, bringing wood to the kitchen, working in the garden, serving the old and the sick, carrying heavy burdens on his back, taking charge of the door, ringing the bells, or helping the sacristan. When, on account of preaching or other spiritual works, he was at any time prevented from performing these daily exercises, he was accustomed to supply the omission by doing double work on the next day.

St. Camillus de Lellis was also remarkable in this way. When he was Superior General of his Order, he was often seen serving in the refectory, washing dishes in the kitchen, carrying the cross, and sometimes even the coffin, at funerals, and going about Rome with a wallet on his shoulders, begging bread----though he was blamed for it by some great nobles and cardinals who were his friends and happened to meet him in the streets in this guise. The venerable Mother Seraphina often employed herself in humble tasks; she was also seen many times rubbing her face with an old shoe.

St. Mary Magdalen de' Pazzi, of her own accord, adopted practices that might bring her into contempt, such as having her eyes bandaged, her hands tied behind her back, being trampled upon, struck, or rudely addressed.

We read of St. Policronius that he wore a wretched habit, ate poor and very scanty food, and passed almost all night in prayer with an oak log on his shoulders, so heavy that Theodoret, the author of his life, who had seen the log, found by experiment that he could scarcely lift it from the ground with both hands.

St. Rose of Lima, besides occupying herself as a servant in the lowest offices every day, invented a strange method of lowering herself still more. Having in the house a woman-servant of harsh temper and exceedingly coarse nature, she induced her, by urgent entreaties, to maltreat her both in words and acts. Retiring with her into a lonely part of the house, and throwing herself upon the floor, the Saint would cause this person to spit in her face, trample her underfoot, strike her with her fist, kick and beat her, as teamsters sometimes do a horse; nor would she rise to her feet until she had obtained as much of this treatment as she desired.

St. John Climacus tells of a monk who had a great love for humility, that he devised this plan to overcome the thoughts of pride with which the devil inspired him. He wrote upon the wall of his cell these memorable words: Perfect charity. Loftiest contemplation. Total mortification. Unalterable sweetness. Unconquerable patience. Angelic chastity. Profoundest humility. Filial confidence. Promptest diligence. Utter resignation. So, when the devil began to urge him to pride, he answered within himself, "Let us try the test." Then approaching the wall, he read these headings: "Perfect charity. Charity, yes, but how perfect, if I speak evil of others? Profoundest humility. This I have not; it is quite enough if I claim the profound. Angelic chastity. How can this be mine, when I allow admittance to unchaste thoughts? Loftiest contemplation. No, I have many distractions. Total mortification. No, for I seek my own gratification. Unalterable sweetness. No, for at the least vexation I lose my self-control." And so with all the rest. In this way he banished the temptation to vanity.

29. Humility, to be true, must be always accompanied by charity; that is, loving, seeking, and accepting humiliations to please God, and to become more like Jesus Christ; to do otherwise, would be to practice it in the manner of the heathen.----St. Francis de Sales

It cannot be said that St. Vincent de Paul was wanting in true humility. However much he did to conceal, abase, humiliate, and render himself despicable in the eyes of the world, allowing no opportunity for humbling himself to pass without accepting it with all willingness and joy, he yet did it all because it expressed the sentiments of his own heart in regard to himself and his nothingness, as well as to act out and imitate the humiliations of the Son of God, Who, as he said one day in a conference, being the brightness of His Father's glory and the image of His substance, not content with having led a life which might be called a continual humiliation, willed even after His death to remain before our eyes in a state of extreme ignominy, when He hung upon the Cross. Thus the humility of this servant of God was from his heart, and so sincere that it could be read on his brow, in his eyes, and in his whole exterior.

St. Jerome relates of St. Paula that when she heard it said that she had become a fool through too much spiritual fervor and that it would be well if a hole were made in her head to give air to her brain, she answered modestly, in the words of the Apostle, "Nos stulti propter Christum"----We are fools for Christ's sake. She added also that the same thing had happened to Jesus Christ, when His relations wished to confine Him as a madman. St. Jerome also says that when she received insults, contempt, or ignominy, she never allowed the slightest word of resentment to escape from her lips, but was accustomed in such cases to repeat to herself the words of the psalm: Ego autem quasi surdus non audiebam, et quasi mutus, non aperiens os suum----But I as a deaf man, heard not, and as a dumb man, who opens not his mouth.


Whoever will come after Me, let him deny himself.----Matt. 16:24

1. The first step to be taken by one who wishes to follow Christ is, according to Our Lord's Own words, that of renouncing himself---that is, his own senses, his own passions, his own will, his own judgment, and all the movements of nature, making to God a sacrifice of all these things, and of all their acts, which are surely sacrifices very acceptable to the Lord. And we must never grow weary of this; for if anyone having, so to speak, one foot already in Heaven, should abandon this exercise, when the time should come for him to put the other there, he would run much risk of being lost.----St. Vincent de Paul

The same Saint made himself such a proficient in this virtue that it might be called the weapon most frequently and constantly handled by him through his whole life until his last breath; and by this he succeeded in gaining absolute dominion over all the movements of his inferior nature. Therefore, he kept his own passions so completely subject to reason, that he could scarcely be known to have any.

St. John Climacus says that the ancient Fathers, even those who were most perfect, exercised themselves in many kinds of mortification and contempt. For they said that if they should give up training themselves because men thought them already consummate in virtue, they would come, in time, to abandon and lose that modesty and patience which they possessed; just as a field, though rich and fertile, if it be no longer cultivated, becomes unsightly and ends in producing only thorns and thistles.

2. The measure of our advancement in the spiritual life should be taken from the progress we make in the virtue of mortification; for it should be held as certain that the greater violence we shall do ourselves in mortification, the greater advance we shall make in perfection.----St. Jerome

When St. Francis Borgia heard it said that anyone was a Saint, he used to answer, "He is, if he is mortified." In this way he himself became so great a Saint; for he exercised himself in mortification to such a degree that only that day seemed to him truly wretched in which he had not undergone some mortification, either bodily or spiritually.

When a young monk once asked an aged Saint why, among so many who aim at perfection, so few are found perfect, he replied, "Because in order to be perfect it is necessary to die wholly to one's own inclinations, and there are few who arrive at this."
3. It should be our principal business to conquer ourselves, and, from day to day, to go on increasing in strength and perfection. Above all, however, it is necessary for us to strive to conquer our little temptations, such as fits of anger, suspicions, jealousies, envy, deceitfulness, vanity, attachments, and evil thoughts. For in this way we shall acquire strength to subdue greater ones.----St. Francis de Sales

A certain physiognomist, looking at Socrates, pronounced him to be inclined to dishonesty, gluttony, drunkenness, and many other vices. His disciples, being angry at this, wished to lay violent hands on the man who had spoken so ill of their master. But Socrates said: "Be calm, for he has told the truth. I should have been just such a man as he describes, if I had not given myself to mortification."
When an old monk was asked how he could bear the noise of some shepherd boys near him, he answered: "I was at first inclined to say something to them; but I thought better of it, and said to myself, 'If I cannot endure so little as this, how shall I endure greater trials, when they come to me?' "

St. Francis Xavier acted in the same way on occasion, and said that we must not deceive ourselves; for whoever does not conquer himself in trifles, will not be able to do so in greater matters.

4. He who allows himself to be ruled or guided by the lower and animal part of his nature, deserves to be called a beast rather than a man.----St. Vincent de Paul

Philip, Count of Nemours, after leading a very bad life, experienced on his deathbed wonderful contrition, so that he begged his confessor to have his body carried to the public square and left there, saying, "I have lived like a dog, and like a dog I ought to die."
5. Whoever makes little account of exterior mortifications, alleging that the interior are more perfect, shows clearly that he is not mortified at all, either exteriorly or interiorly.----St. Vincent de Paul

This Saint was always an enemy to his body, treating l it with much austerity----chastising it with hair-cloth, iron chains, and leather belts armed with sharp points. Every morning on rising, he took a severe discipline----a practice which he had begun before founding the Congregation, and which he never omitted on account of the hardships of journeys, or in his convalescence from any illness; but, on the contrary, he took additional ones on special occasions. All his life he slept upon a simple straw bed, and always rose at the usual hour for the Community, though
he was generally the last of all to retire to rest, and though he often could not sleep more than two hours out of the night, on account of his infirmities. From this it frequently happened that he was much tormented during the day by drowsiness, which he would drive away by remaining on his feet or in some uncomfortable posture, or by inflicting on himself some annoyance. Besides, he willingly bore great cold in winter, and great heat in summer, with other inconveniences; in a word, he embraced, or rather sought, all the sufferings he could, and was very careful never to allow any opportunity for mortifying himself to escape.

A holy woman, being compelled by her husband to go to a ball, put dry mustard on her shoulders, which, in dancing, caused her such intense pain that she fainted several times, and had to be carried from the ballroom.

St. Edmund, Archbishop of Canterbury, wore for thirty successive years a band of hair-cloth next to his skin, and always slept on the floor without pillow or coverlet. St. Louis, King of France, constantly chastised his body with fasts and hair-cloth. St. Casimir, son of the King of Poland, did the same, and also slept on the bare ground. St. Margaret, Queen of Scotland, as well at St. Cajetan, often used the discipline during whole nights.

Finally, there can be found among the Confessors no Saint, either man or woman, who did not have great love for exterior mortifications, and who did not practice them as much as possible.

6. Mortification of the appetite is the A, B, C of spiritual life. Whoever cannot control himself in this, will hardly be able to conquer temptations more difficult to subdue.----St. Vincent de Paul

This Saint had, by long habit, so mortified his sense of taste that he never gave a sign of being pleased with anything, but took indifferently all that was given him, however insipid or ill-cooked it might be; and so little did he regard what he was eating, that when a couple of raw eggs were once set before him by mistake, he ate them without taking the least notice. He always. seemed to go to the table unwillingly, and only from necessity, eating always with great moderation, and with a view solely to the glory of God; nor did he ever leave the table without having mortified himself in something, either as to quantity or quality. For many years, too, he kept a bitter powder to mix with his food; and he usually ate so little that he frequently fainted from weakness.

The Empress Leonora was remarkable for this virtue. Her usual dinner was of herbs, pulse, and other food of the poor, always the same both in kind and quantity. She had four dishes at dinner, and three at supper, frequently setting aside some of them for no reason except that they pleased her. And if these dishes came to the table covered with pastry or other delicacies used by the rich, they always went back whole and untouched. When she was at the Emperor's table or at formal banquets, she spent the time in cutting into the smallest bits whatever was placed before her; then when another course was brought, she sent away the first without having tasted it, and went on as before. When she ate apples baked in the ashes, she never peeled them, but ate them with whatever ashes were upon them. On Fridays she lived on bread and water alone, in memory of the Redeemer's Passion. She bore the most parching thirst on the hottest summer days, without permitting even a sip of water to pass her burning lips. St. Elizabeth, Queen of Portugal, fasted on bread and water about half the year. St. Francis Xavier waged as constant and lasting war against his appetite, so that he never took food or drink for pleasure, but from pure necessity; nor did he ever take as much as he desired, even of bread. St. Edmund of Canterbury never ate either meat or fish, but only bread and other common food, and suffered so much from thirst that his lips chapped. The blessed Henry Suso drank nothing for six successive months; and in order to feel thirst more acutely, he ate salt food, and then going to a stream, he bent his head down close to its surface, yet without allowing his lips to touch it. The blessed Joanna of St. Damien practiced such great austerities in regard to food, that she was entreated by the other nuns to moderate them. But she answered: "I am sorry that I cannot feed this body of mine on straw. I know how much harm liberty does to it, and I thank God, Who has given me this knowledge." When St. Mary Magdalen de' Pazzi was seriously ill, extremely weak, and suffering from nausea, if she happened to think of any kind of food which would please her, she considered it a fault to ask for it or allude to it, and carefully abstained from doing so.

The blessed Jacopone, having one day a desire for meat, bought a piece. He hung it up in his room and kept it until it was spoiled; then he had it cooked and ate it with unspeakable disgust.
By a long and constant habit of abstinence and mortification, St. Anselm became unable to perceive the taste of food. It was the same with St. Bernard, who for that reason drank oil one day instead of wine, without perceiving it at all, and he reached such a point that going to the table seemed to him a kind of torture.

St. Teresa said that she experienced a similar difficulty in eating; and St. Isidore suffered from it so excessively that he could not go to the table without tears, and the command of his Superior was needed to force him to take some nourishment.

7. One of the things that keep us at a distance from perfection is, without doubt, our tongue. For when one has gone so far as to commit no faults in speaking, the Holy Spirit Himself assures us that he is perfect. And since the worst way of speaking is to speak too much, speak little and well, little and gently, little and simply, little and charitably, little and amiably.----St. Francis de Sales

St. Ignatius Loyola governed his tongue so well that his speech was simple, grave, considerate, and brief.

St. John Berchmans was a man of few words, and so considerate in his speech that there was never heard from his mouth an idle word, one contrary to rule, one that was neither necessary, useful, nor directed to any good purpose. Being once asked by a brother novice how he managed never to commit a fault in speaking, he replied thus: "I never say anything without first considering it, and recommending it to God, that I may say nothing which can displease Him." Besides, he was never observed to violate silence and when asked how he could keep this rule so perfectly, he answered: "This is the way I do: I salute humbly all those I meet; if anyone asks any service of me, I show the greatest readiness to render it; if anyone asks me a question, I listen, and answer briefly; and I avoid saying a single superfluous word."

St. Vincent de Paul made himself so completely master of his tongue, that useless or superfluous words were rarely heard from his mouth, and never a single one inconsiderate, contrary to charity, or such as might savor of vanity, flattery, or ostentation. It often happened that after opening his mouth to say something unusual that came into his mind, he closed it suddenly, stifling the words, and apparently reflecting in his own heart, and considering before God whether it was expedient to say them. He then continued to speak, not according to his inclination, for he had none, but as he felt sure would be most pleasing to God. When anything was told him which he already knew, he listened with attention, giving no sign of having heard it before. He did this to mortify self-love, which always makes us desire to prove that we know as much as others. When insult, reproach, or wrong of any kind was inflicted upon him, he never opened his lips to complain, to justify himself, or to repel the injury; but he recollected himself, and placed all his strength in silence and patience, blessing in his heart those who had ill-treated him, and praying for them. When he found himself overwhelmed with excessive work, he did not complain, but his ordinary words were: "Blessed be God! we must accept willingly all that He deigns to send us."

St. Aloysius Gonzaga, when about to converse with anyone, fervently repeated this prayer: Pone Domine, custodiam ori meo, etc.----Set a watch, O Lord, before my lips, etc.

A certain virgin once observed silence from the Festival of the Holy Cross, in September, until Christmas, with such rigor that in all that time she did not speak one word. This mortification was so pleasing to God, that it was revealed to a Holy Soul, that as a reward for it, she should never pass through Purgatory.

Among the lofty eulogiums that St. Jerome bestows upon his pupil St. Paula is this----that she was as cautious in speaking as she was ready to listen.

8. It is a common doctrine of the Saints that one of the principal means of leading a good and exemplary life is modesty and custody of the eyes. For, as there is nothing so adapted to preserve devotion in a soul, and to cause compunction and edification in others, as this modesty, so there is nothing which so much exposes a person to relaxation and scandals as its opposite.----St. Alphonsus Rodriguez

In his life of St. Bernard, Surius relates that when Pope Innocent III went with his Cardinals to visit Clairvaux, the Saint, with all his monks, came out to meet him, but with such a modest and composed exterior as moved to compunction the Cardinals and the Pope himself; for they were astonished that on such a festival, and such an unusual and solemn occasion of rejoicing, they all kept their eyes cast down and fastened upon the ground without turning them in any direction, and that while all were gazing at them, they looked at no one. He also tells of St. Bernard, that he practiced custody of the eyes to such a degree that after a year's novitiate he did not know how the ceiling of his cell was made, whether it was arched or flat; that he always believed there was one window in the church, while there were three; that he walked, one day, with his companions on the short of a lake, without knowing it was there, so that when they were speaking of the lake in the evening, he asked where they had seen it.

It is narrated of St. Bernardine of Siena that his modesty was so great that his mere presence acted as a restraint upon his companions; so that if one only said, "Bernardine is coming," they would check themselves immediately. Surius also tells, in his Life of St. Lucian the Martyr, that the heathens were converted and became Christians by merely looking upon him, on account of his composure and modesty.

The blessed Clara di Montefalco never raised her eyes to the face of anyone with whom she was speaking. When she was asked by a monk the reason of this, she answered: "As we speak only with the tongue, what need is there of looking in the face of the person we are talking with?"

  St. John Berchmans was greatly to be admired for mortification of the eyes. He would never turn to look at anything, however new and unexpected it might be, and even a noise behind him would never cause him to turn, natural as it is to do so. Happening to be present one day at a college exhibition, he took a seat on a bench and remained motionless, without ever raising his eyes, and with so much recollection that a nobleman who occupied the next seat was amazed, and said, "This Father must be a Saint."

There are, on the other hand, innumerable instances of those who have become relaxed and a cause of scandal through want of custody of the eyes. It will be enough to cite the example of David, who, by a simple unguarded glance, prompted by curiosity, was suddenly changed from a great Saint into a great sinner, the scandal of his whole kingdom.

9. Believe me that the mortification of the senses in seeing, hearing, and speaking, is worth much more than wearing chains or hair-cloth.----St. Francis de Sales

It is known of St. Catherine of Siena that while her family were celebrating the Carnival in their house, she was not willing to join them, protesting that as she had no other love, so she had no other pleasure, but in her Jesus. He then appeared to her in company with the Blessed Virgin and other Saints, and espoused her with so much clearness and certainty, that the Dominicans, by Apostolic Indulgence, celebrate a festival in commemoration of it on the last day of the Carnival.

A very devout penitent of his once confessed to St. Francis Xavier that she had looked upon a man with more tenderness than was suitable. The Saint closed what he had to say to her with these words: "You are unworthy to have God look upon you, since for the sake of looking upon a man, you do not regard the risk of losing God." This was enough, for, during the rest of her life, she never again turned her eyes toward any man.

The Empress Leonora kept her eyes down, and raised them only when she was welcomed by monks or nuns to their house; she returned their salutations courteously, with a cheerful countenance and a kind smile. When present at the theater, to which she was obliged to go, she rarely glanced at the splendid gathering of the nobility or at the superb scenes which succeeded each other, with views of gardens, forests, and palaces, in perspective. She spent all this time with her mind in Heaven, contemplating the delights of Paradise, and reciting Psalms, which, to avoid notice, she had bound in the same style as the books of the plays, so that she seemed to everyone very attentive to the play, while she was, in reality, enjoying a very different sight.
St. Vincent de Paul practiced continual mortification of the senses, depriving them even of lawful gratifications, and often inflicting on them voluntary sufferings. When he was traveling, instead of allowing his eyes to wander over the country, he usually kept them on his crucifix. When walking in the city, he went with eyes cast down or closed, that he might see God alone. Visiting the palaces of the nobility, he did not look at the tapestry or other beautiful objects, but remained with downcast glance and full of recollection. He practiced the same thing in the churches, never raising his eyes except to behold the Blessed Sacrament, not to look at the decorations, however beautiful they might be. He was never seen to gather flowers in the gardens, or take up anything that was pleasing to the sense of smell; on the contrary, he greatly enjoyed remaining in places where there was an unpleasant odor, such as hospitals and the houses of the sick poor. His tongue he employed only in praise of God and virtue, in opposing vice and in consoling, instructing, and edifying his neighbor. His ears he opened only to discourse which tended to good, for it gave him pain to hear news and worldly talk, and he made every effort to avoid listening to what would delight the hearing without profit to the soul. When a penitent who was somewhat reckless in his speech asked his director for a hair shirt to mortify the flesh, "My son," said the priest, laying his finger upon his lips, "the best hair shirt is to watch carefully all that comes out at this door."

St. Aloysius Gonzaga was admirable for mortification of the eyes, for it is narrated in his Life that he never looked any woman in the face. After he had served the Empress as page for two years, a report was spread that she was coming into Italy, where he happened to be, and some congratulated him on the prospect of seeing his mistress again. But he replied: "I shall not recognize her except by her voice, for I do not know her face." His rare mortification was well rewarded by God even in his life, for he was never attacked by temptations of the flesh.

10. There are some so much inclined to mortify themselves that they take care to find in everything some means of mortification. What a beautiful practice is this, and of how much advantage.----St. Alphonsus Rodriguez

Sister Joanna Maria of the Trinity, a Discalced Carmelite, had this excellent custom of seeking and finding mortification in everything. And so she always selected what was most insipid in food; poorest in clothing and shelter; most laborious in work; most unpleasant in matters of inclination. In a word, she always chose what was most inconvenient and disagreeable for herself, seeking in all things only the pleasure, honor, and glory of God.

St. Francis Borgia also made much use of the same practice. He wore pebbles in his shoes; slept little at night; when walking in the sun in summer, he remained out as long as possible; he swallowed medicine slowly, and chewed pills, that he might keep them longer in his mouth.

11. Upon interior mortification depends the right adjustment of our whole exterior, its arrangement with most perfection, with most sweetness and peace.----St. Teresa

St. Philip Neri, when anyone asked him what he should do to become a Saint, used to put his hand to his forehead, saying, "Give me those four fingers, and I will make you a Saint"; meaning that all sanctity depends on denying one's own will and one's own judgment. And to a penitent who often asked permission to take the discipline, he once gave this answer: "How are the shoulders to blame, if the head is hard?"

12. Our profit does not depend so much upon mortifying ourselves, as upon knowing how to mortify ourselves; that is, upon knowing how to choose the best mortifications, which are those most repugnant to our natural inclinations. Some are inclined to disciplines and fasts, and though they be difficult things, they embrace them with fervor, and practice them gladly and easily, on account of this leaning which they have toward them. But then they will be so sensitive in regard to reputation and honor, that the least ridicule, disapproval, or slight is sufficient to throw them into a state of impatience and perturbation and to give rise to such complaints as show an equal want of peace and reason. These are the mortifications which they ought to embrace with the greatest readiness, if they wish to make progress.----St. Francis de Sales

The venerable Monseigneur de Palafox understood this doctrine well, for he said that the reason why he had never advanced in virtue was that he had never taken special pains to avoid all that was most conformed to his inclinations. Whoever, then, perceives in himself any disposition to contradict, for example, or to rely on his own judgment, and is not very attentive to combat, and to keep at a distance from all that can entice or subject him to it, will not only fail to go forward, but will go backward, and perhaps so far backward as to arrive at his own ruin.
A religious who was a priest, having been chosen as assistant to the cook, experienced the greatest repugnance and temptations in regard to this charge. To conquer himself, he made a vow before a crucifix to remain in this office all his life, if the Superiors should be willing. Through this and similar victories he arrived at such perfection as to be able to say that he believed no work could be offered to him, however repugnant to the senses, that he could not do, by the help of God, with perfect ease.

13. The mortifications which come to us from God, or from men by His permission, are always worth more than those which are the children of our own will; for it must be considered a general rule, that the less our taste and choice intervene in our actions, the more they will have of goodness, solidity, devotion, the pleasure of God, and our own profit.----St. Francis de Sales

Aldolphus, Count of Alsace, having entered the Order of St. Francis, was one day collecting alms in the form of milk, when he met his sons and felt ashamed of his occupation. Then instantly recollecting himself, he emptied the can of milk upon his head, saying, "Unhappy one! thou art ashamed of the poverty of Jesus Christ! Let them see now what thou art carrying!" After that, he suffered no more from any similar temptation.

It is narrated in the Lives of the Fathers, that an old solitary, who had heard the virtue of a certain youthful monk greatly praised, resolved to test it. For this purpose he went to the monk's cell, and entering the garden, which he found well cultivated and in excellent order, he began, as if in sport, to break down with his staff all the herbs and plants which were there, not leaving any untouched. Afterwards, according to the custom of the monks, they began to recite Psalms together; and when this was ended the youth, with a cheerful and modest air, asked the old man if he would like to have him prepare such of the herbs as were left for his repast. Astonished at such an invitation, he, for answer, threw his arms around his neck, exclaiming: "Now I see, my son, that you are truly dead to your inclinations, as was told me!"

14. The more one mortifies his natural inclinations, the more he becomes capable of receiving the Ddivine inspirations, and the more he gains in virtue.----St. Francis de Sales

The celebrated Father Laynez, one of the companions of St. Ignatius, by means of this practice arrived at great purity of mind and imperturbable tranquillity of soul.

St. Philip Neri made great use of this practice, both with his penitents and for himself. One example out of many will suffice. A nobleman of high rank had a dog, named Capriccio, of which he was very fond. One morning, an attendant of his brought the dog with him to the lodging of St. Philip, who, on seeing him, caressed him a little. Upon this, the dog took such a fancy to him that he could not in any way be persuaded to leave him. He was again and again sent back to his master, who had him kindly treated and kept tied up for a while; but immediately on being released, he would go back to the Saint's rooms, so that finally they were obliged to let him remain there. St. Philip afterwards made much use of this dog for his own mortification, and that of his spiritual children. Sometimes he made them wash and comb him; sometimes, carry him in their arms, or lead him by a chain through the streets of Rome; and he himself would walk with them. These and similar mortifications lasted for a space of fifteen years.

15. The greater part of Christians usually practice incision instead of circumcision. They will make a cut indeed in a diseased part; but as for employing the knife of circumcision, to take away whatever is superfluous from the heart, few go so far.----St. Francis de Sales

The example of the venerable Sister Francesca Farnese confirms this truth. Immediately after her profession, she began to yield to relaxation, into which she fell so far that she cared for nothing except vain ornaments in dress, flirting, remaining all day at the grate, and, finally, covering the walls of her cell with hangings and mirrors. She was many times warned, corrected, and sharply reproved by her Superior, her confessor and, above all, by a nun who was her aunt. She felt and understood the force of these admonitions and reproofs and often formed good resolutions; she even put them in practice by taking off her vain ornaments, abandoning the grate, and breaking and throwing from the windows her mirrors and tapestry; but a little while after, she went back again to all these things, and became as she was before. These miserable alternations lasted for a long time, and might have continued for her whole life, as the reforms which she made were nothing more than incisions. But, happily, the Divine Mercy was pleased to stir her heart by a strong inspiration, so that, unable to resist the reproaches of her own conscience, she had courage to make a true circumcision, by leaving not only all vain amusements, but also by forming for herself a rule more rigorous than her own, and so well planned that it made her foundress of a new order, in which she spent the rest of her life in an exemplary manner, and died in the odor of sanctity, as is sufficiently proved by the fact that her body remained unchanged for many years. Somewhat different was the career of St. Paula, who, as St. Jerome relates, even from her earliest years, undertook to practice a true circumcision of the heart, and with increasing age applied herself to it more and more, cutting off and retrenching on all sides whatever seemed superfluous or beyond what was suited to her state. So, while her husband was living, she led a life so well regulated and dutiful that she was an example to all the matrons of Rome, and no one ever dared to charge her with the slightest error. But when she was freed from the restraints of the world, after God took away her husband, she began a most austere life and never wavered in it until death. She no longer slept upon a mattress, but upon the bare ground, covered only with hair-cloth. Indeed, she slept but little, for she passed almost the whole night in prayer and tears. She chastised her body with rigorous fasts and very severe disciplines, without stint or mercy. In confessing her slightest faults, she shed so many tears that anyone who did not know her might have supposed her guilty of the gravest offenses; and when she was entreated not to weep so much, that she might preserve her sight for reading; and not to practice so many austerities and penances, that she might not wholly lose her health, "No," she replied, "with all reason should this face be disfigured, which I have so often beautifed with washes contrary to the precept of the Lord; this body ought, indeed, to be afflicted, which has enjoyed so many delights; long laughter ought to be compensated for by continual weeping; rich and delicate garments ought to be changed into hair-cloth: for I, who have taken so much pains to please the world, now desire to please God." Thus she spoke and acted, in reparation for the disorders of her past life, which, nevertheless, had been most circumspect and modest.

16. Whoever wishes to make progress in perfection should use particular diligence in not allowing himself to be led away by his passions, which destroy with one hand the spiritual edifice which is rising by the labors of the other. But to succeed well in this, resistance should be begun while the passions are yet weak; for after they are thoroughly rooted and grown up, there is scarcely any remedy.----St. Vincent de Paul

St. Dorotheus tells us of an old monk, who, walking with one of his disciples in a grove of cypresses, commanded him to pull some of them up, pointing out to him first, one which was but just beginning to sprout from the ground; after that, another, which had grown into a sapling; and finally, one that was a full-grown tree. The disciple set himself to the work and tore up the first with one hand and with all possible ease; the second also with one hand, but with some difficulty; to pull up the third he was obliged to try several times, with both hands and all his strength. But when he arrived at the fourth, he encountered the real difficulty; and though he tried again and again, with all his force, and in every way that his ingenuity could suggest, he was not able to stir it in the least from the spot. Then the aged Saint said: "Now, my son, it is the same as this with our passions. While they are still small, with a little vigilance and mortification one can easily repress and disable them; but, if we let them take root in our souls, there is no human force sufficient to conquer them; it requires the omnipotent hand of God. Therefore, my son, if you wish to acquire virtue, watch the first irregular movements of your soul, and study to repress them promptly, by contrary acts, at their very birth. Upon this, everything depends."

17. The ignorance of some is greatly to be pitied, who load themselves with unwise penances and other unsuitable exercises of their devising, putting all their confidence in them, and expecting to become saints by their means. If they would put half of this labor upon mortifying their appetites and passions, they would gain more in a month than by all their other exercises in many years.----St. John of the Cross

We read of St. Ignatius that by means of continual mortification he had arrived at such a point that he seemed to be a man without passions; and if it was sometimes desirable to bring them into action, they appeared like so many modest slaves who dared not move of themselves, nor farther than reason, their absolute mistress, ordered them to go.

A Genoese lady, on account of the desire she had to listen to the contract for her marriage made by her father, left the world and became a nun and a Saint.

St. Mary Magdalen de' Pazzi impressed this, above all things, upon the minds of the novices, when she was their mistress. And so, when she saw one too much inclined to pray, she sent her to sleep or to perform some active labor. Upon another who was inclined to exterior works, she imposed prayer or some other interior work. To whoever wished for many penances and mortifications, she gave one Pater and Ave. To whoever felt repugnance for them, she prescribed severe mortifications and humiliations. Among other instances, she made one of the novices throw into the fire a little book of spiritual exercises, which she had written with her own hand, and to which she showed attachment. And thus, the Saint constantly accustomed her novices to subject their inclinations, and, at the same time, their judgment and their will.

18. The principal thing upon which we have to turn our attention, that we may mortify it and eradicate it from our hearts, is the predominant passion----that is, the affection, inclination, vice, or bad habit, which reigns most in us, which makes us its captive, which brings us into greatest danger, and most frequently causes us to fall into grave transgressions. When the king is taken, the battle is won. And until we do this, we shall make no great advance in perfection.----St. Alphonsus Rodriguez

An event of the kind upon which Rodriguez founds his comparison occurred, as Holy Scripture narrates, in the war between the King of Syria and the King of Israel. The latter commanded all his captains to attack no one in the hostile army except the king himself, wisely judging that if the king should be conquered, the whole army would be overcome. This happened in fact, for when King Achab was struck down, the battle ended.

St. Ignatius once had a novice of a fiery disposition, to whom he often said: "My son, conquer this temperament of yours, and you will have in Heaven a more resplendent crown than many who are gentle by nature." One day, the Father in charge accused this young man to him as intractable. "Not so," answered the Saint; "for I believe he has made more improvement in a few months, than such a one, who is naturally gentle, in a year." The same Saint was himself of a bilious-sanguine temperament. But he took his predominant passion so steadily in hand, and so conquered and changed himself by the grace of God, that he was considered by all, even by physicians, to be phlegmatic.

St. Francis de Sales confessed that the dominant passions he had most difficulty in subduing were love and anger, and that he had conquered the former by stratagem, the latter by open force; that is, he had conquered love by diverting his mind, and proposing to himself another object of love; for he said that as the human soul cannot exist without some love, the whole secret lies in giving to it only what is good, pure, and holy. Anger, on the other hand, he had subdued by attacking it in front, and never yielding to it at all. Whence it happened that though he was naturally passionate, he was thought to be of a gentle temper.

19. Every time that one sees himself urged on, with vehemence of affection, to any particular work, even though it be holy and important, he ought to put it off to another occasion, and not take it up again until his heart has recovered perfect tranquillity and indifference. This should be done to prevent self-love from sullying the purity of our intention.----St. Vincent de Paul

The Saint who gives this advice practiced it faithfully himself. One day a business proposition was made to him that was very important for his Congregation. When he was urged by some of them to give his consent to it immediately, he answered: "I do not think we ought to pay attention to this matter at present, that we may blunt the natural inclination which leads us to pursue promptly what is to our own advantage, and also that we may practice holy indifference, and give time to God to manifest His will to us, while we continue offering our prayers to recommend the affair to Him." Another time, when someone importuned him about a similar matter, his reply was this: "I desire always to keep up the practice of not deciding
or undertaking anything while I find myself agitated by the hope and desire of something great." Still another incident is even more admirable. As he saw, by experience, the great utility of missions, he embraced them with much fervor and earnestness. But when he perceived that his thoughts and ardent desires were gradually taking away the peace of heart he had hitherto enjoyed, he began to suspect that nature might have some part in them; therefore, he esteemed it necessary to interrupt this exercise for some time. The better to understand the movements of his heart, he retired for a few days of spiritual retreat, and perceiving in this that his great gladness and excessive solicitude were, in part, caused by self-love, he asked pardon of God with many tears, praying Him to change his heart and purify it from every inordinate affection, to the greater glory of His Divine Majesty. Afterwards, he found himself quite free from all anxiety and superfluous care, nor had he any other object than the Divine love; so that he was able to thank God that for thirty years he was not conscious of having done anything deliberately that was not directed to His greater glory.

St. Francis de Sales once stopped in the course of a journey to visit St. Jane Frances de Chantal, who had been eagerly expecting him, that she might confer with him about her own spiritual interests. She was the more desirous of doing this, because she had enjoyed no such opportunity for three years and a half, on account of the numerous occupations in which he was engaged. When they met, the holy prelate said: "We have a few hours free, Mother; which of us two shall be the first to speak?" "Myself," she answered, with some haste, "for certainly my soul greatly needs to pass under your eye." At this, the Saint, wishing to correct the anxiety she showed about speaking to him, with serious but gentle gravity rejoined: "Do you then still nourish desires, Mother? Have you yet a choice? I expected to find everything angelic. We will then put off speaking of you until we meet next, and for the present talk about the affairs of our Congregation." The good and holy Mother, without a word of objection, laid aside all that related to herself, though she was holding in her hands a list of things she had wished to speak of; and for four successive hours they discussed the interests of the Institute, and then parted.

St. Dorotheus, being sick and hearing raw eggs recommended as a remedy, after some time told his master of it, but, at the same time he asked him not to give them to him, because the thought of them was a distraction to him.

20. Do not weary thyself in vain; for thou wilt never succeed in possessing true spiritual sweetness and satisfaction, unless thou first deny all thy desires.----St. John of the Cross

The Abbot Ellem, as we read in the Lives of the Fathers, saw a honeycomb hanging from a rock and some fruit that had fallen from a tree, but he abstained from them. He then fell into a sleep, from which he was wakened by an Angel, when he found himself by the side of a fountain surrounded by the freshest herbs, some of which he ate, and declared that he had never before tasted so great a delicacy.

Eriberto Rosveido relates of St. Macarius of Alexandria that, to overcome drowsiness, which annoyed him greatly, he never entered his cell for twenty consecutive days and nights; and when he was compelled by necessity to take some sleep, he took it with his head resting against a wall. He also says that being grievously assailed by sensual temptations, he remained for six months in a swamp, with his naked body exposed to the stings of the gnats, which in that region are as large as wasps; and when he came out he was so covered with swellings and sores that he looked like a leper. The Saint also once said of himself that he never took what he desired either of bread or water, but always took bread by weight, and water by measure; and that by mortifying his appetites in this manner, he merited so many graces from God, and advanced so much in the love and knowledge of Him, that he was wont to pass whole days and nights uninterruptedly in the sweetest contemplation.

21. Some pursue their own taste and satisfaction in spiritual things in preference to the way of perfection, which consists in denying their own wishes and tastes for the love of God. If such persons perform some exercise through obedience, even though it suit their inclination, they soon lose the wish for it, and all devotion in it, because their only pleasure is in doing what their own will directs, which ordinarily would be better left undone. The Saints did not act thus.----St. John of the Cross

The blessed Seraphino, a Capuchin lay-brother, said to a friend that he would be glad to be in the house of Loretto or at Rome, that he might serve as many Masses as possible. When it was suggested that he might ask this favor of the Superiors, who would have readily granted it, he replied: "Oh, not that! Any holy desire would be profaned by one's own will, and every good intention ought to be subject to obedience, the only true directress of all holy thoughts."

St. Felix the Capuchin never did anything without the consent and express wish of his Superiors, though his employment of seeking alms would give occasion for some liberty. And when these Superiors, being well acquainted with his integrity and virtue, were accustomed to leave everything at his free disposal, he----instead of being pleased at this----found it rather a cause of sorrow and bitterness, as he saw that it hindered that entire subjection and dependence which he desired so much, and constrained him to do his own will, which he abhorred extremely.

22. If we do not pay great attention to mortifying our own will, there are many things that can take from us that holy liberty of spirit, which we seek in order to be able to mount freely towards our Creator, without being always weighed down with earth and lead. Besides, in a soul that belongs to itself, and is attached to its own will, there can never be solid virtue.----St. Teresa

St. Mary Magdalen de' Pazzi said one day that she asked nothing of the Lord except that He would take her own will from her; for she knew that through the vivacity of her disposition, she did not advance so much as she desired in those virtues which render a soul most pleasing to the Lord. After saying this, she raised her eyes to Heaven and fell into an ecstasy, in which she was shown by God how much harm is done to souls, especially those of religious, when they are guided by their own will----which they once consecrated to God by vow. In the course of the ecstasy, she took her Superior by the hand and led her to the oratory, where she knelt and prayed the Virgin to enlighten her Superior also, that she might take pains to despoil her of her will; and after prostrating herself three times upon the ground, she recovered from her trance. She was so much in earnest in this matter that she once said she did not remember ever to have tried, either secretly or openly, to incline the will of her Superior to her own.

23. Make it your constant effort to mortify and trample underfoot your own will, to such a degree as not to satisfy it in anything, if it be possible. Be careful, therefore, to desire and rejoice that it may be often crossed; and when you see anyone oppose it either in temporal or spiritual things, follow his will rather than your own, if only his be good, even though your own be better. For, contending with another, by lessening your humility, tranquillity, and peace, will always inflict upon you a loss greater than the advantage brought by any exercise of virtue performed through your own will, in opposition to another's.----St. Vincent Ferrer

St. Catherine of Genoa practiced this. She loved to submit her preference to that of others, in all things; and if a wish to pursue any course arose in her own mind, it was sufficient to make her avoid it.

When Father Thomas Sanchez would to go his Superiors to make a request, he used first to ask God, if it might be according to His pleasure, to move their hearts to refuse it.

24. Thou oughtest not to let a day pass in which thou hast not trampled upon thy will; and if such a thing should happen, consider that on that day thou hast not been a religious.----St. John Climacus

St. Mary Magdalen de' Pazzi was extremely fond of not doing her own will, and made a study of it, so that she regarded that day as utterly lost in which she had not in some manner broken and denied it.

25. Do you know what is the highest degree of abnegation of one's own will? It consists in allowing ourselves to be employed in such things as others choose, without ever making any resistance.----St. Francis de Sales

When St. Basil was visiting the monasteries of his diocese, he asked an abbot if he had no monk who showed more than the rest that he belonged to the number of the predestinate. The Abbot presented to him one who was very simple. The Saint ordered him to bring some water, and when he had quickly brought it, told him to sit down and wash his feet, which he did immediately, without showing the slightest reluctance. The following day, as he was going into the sacristy, he bade him approach the altar, as he wished to ordain him priest; and he received the priesthood without any resistance. From these things, the Saint considered him dead to his own will and his own judgment, and therefore worthy to be held as one of the predestinate. A little while after, some strangers entered his cell by night, took him, and led him unresistingly into their country, and there shut him up in a wretched hut, where he remained quietly, without a word to anyone. But a few days after, some men from another region took him out, still without a word on his part, and carried him away to the place from which they came, and there he stayed contentedly, as one dead to the world.

26. The greatest gift one can receive from God in this world is wisdom, power and will to conquer himself, by denying self-will.----St. Francis of Assisi

The Abbot Pastor had the highest opinion of this exercise, and used to say that our own will is an iron wall that disunites and separates us from God.

St. Colette, of the Order of St. Francis, often said that she thought it a greater mortification to deny one's own judgment and will than to abandon all the riches in the world, and therefore she practiced it to the utmost of her ability. St. Bernard also entertained the same sentiments, and said that all evils spring from a single root, which is self-will.

27. Take heed not to foster thy own judgment, for, without doubt, it will inebriate thee; as there is no difference between an intoxicated man and one full of his own opinion, and one is no more capable of reasoning than the other.----St. Francis de Sales

The blessed Alexander Sauli, a Corsican bishop, always asked others' advice in the affairs of his diocese, not trusting to his own opinion. He considered himself ignorant and totally unfit for the duties of his office, though he had been a famous professor of theology and director of St. Charles, and had even been called the ideal of bishops.

St. Francis de Paula, though endowed with the gift of prophecy, in doubtful cases always took counsel, even in the smallest matters, and with his own subjects.

28. Everyone has opinions of his own, nor is this opposed to virtue. It is only the love and attachment we have to our own opinions, and the high value we set on them, which is infinitely contrary to our perfection. This is the last thing to be abandoned, and the cause why so few are perfect.----St. Francis de Sales

This Saint succeeded in abandoning this last thing, so that he was once able to write to a friend that he had no such attachment to his own opinion as to wish anyone ill who did not follow it, and that he did not claim that his sentiments should serve as a rule to anyone.

The venerable Father John Leonardi, founder of the Regular Clerics of the Mother of God, although he was gifted with the highest degree of prudence and had brought to a successful issue many affairs of great note, nevertheless depended so much upon the advice of his subjects, nay even of the young and inexperienced among them, that he never decided on anything of importance without first hearing their opinion and gaining their approval. Often he even followed their judgment in preference to his own.

Father Suarez, though he possessed much talent and learning, often gave his books even to his pupils to be revised; and if one of them disapproved of anything, he altered it with great readiness. St. Vincent Ferrer also had so little regard for his own opinion that he gave his writings to his companions to be reviewed, even though they were inferior to him in learning; and he did this not only when he was a student, but afterwards when a lecturer.

29. The true and only remedy for this evil is to make little account of what suggests itself to our mind. When asked for our opinion, let us give it frankly, but with indifference as to whether or not it be accepted or approved, and let us be careful to follow the judgment of others rather than our own, whenever it can be lawfully done.----St. Francis de Sales

It is narrated in the Lives of the Fathers that when the Abbot John, who was very celebrated for holiness, was about to die, his disciples begged him to leave them some good advice for acquiring perfection. He replied to them: "This is all is I can tell you: I have labored not according to my own judgment, but according to the judgment of others; nor have I ever commanded another to do anything, without having first done it myself."

St. Jane Frances de Chantal had a mind at once lofty, and quick to reach the point at which it aimed. But for all this, when she was asked for advice in important affairs, she never trusted wholly to the knowledge she had acquired by long experience; but besides having recourse to God in prayer, she wished to consult with her spiritual fathers and with persons acquainted with those affairs. She would then express her own sentiments in this way: "This is my opinion, but take in addition the advice of someone wiser and more judicious."

St. Vincent Ferrer, in matters relating to the direction and government of that Order of which he was the head, as a general thing, followed the wishes and opinions of his companions rather than his own.

30. As to be holy is nothing else than to will what God wills, so to be wise is nothing else than to judge of things as God judges of them. Now, who knows whether thy sentiments be always in conformity with those of God? How many times hast thou discovered thyself to be deceived in thy judgments and decisions?----St. Vincent de Paul

St. Vincent de Paul excelled in this mortification of his own judgment. He was gifted with so much foresight that he was considered one of the most prudent men of his time; yet he always distrusted himself, and in all his affairs had recourse not only to God, but also to men. He would ask their opinion and follow it rather than his own, as far as justice and charity permitted, even though they had but little talent, or were his inferiors. When he was asked for advice, after raising his mind for a moment to God, he gave it, not setting things arbitrarily, but explaining his views with modesty, and leaving the person to decide for himself. His way of speaking was: "It seems that it might be done so." "There would be this reason, which seems to lead to such a conclusion," and if he was urged to decide absolutely, he would say: "It seems to me that it would be well or expedient to do such a thing, to act in such a way." Besides, he always preferred, and himself suggested, that the opinion of others also should be asked, and was pleased to have it followed rather than his own----not because he did not usually know best, on account of his long experience and the great light he received from God, but purely from love of submission and mortification, and because of his great love of humility, which made him esteem everyone better than himself. At a meeting of the Ladies of Charity, an institution established by him to promote several pious objects, a matron present observed this trait. She informed the servant of God of it very gracefully, at the end of the conference, expressing to him her surprise that he would not support his views, which deserved to be preferred to all the others. "May it never be," he answered, "that my poor, weak judgment should prevail over that of others! I shall always rejoice to have God work what He will without me, a wretched sinner." He was so fully persuaded that resolutions taken with mature consideration and the advice of others were pleasing to the Lord, that he rejected as a temptation anything op- posed to them which came into his mind. He was accustomed to say that when an affair had been recommended to God and consulted upon with others, we ought to be firm in what we undertake, and believe that God will not impute it to us for a fault, as we can offer this legitimate excuse: "O Lord, I recommended the affair to Thee, and took the advice of others, which was all that could be done to know Thy will."

31. The life of our flesh is the delight of sensuality; its death is to take from it all sensible delight. The life of our judgment and our will is to dispose of ourselves and what is ours, according to our own views and wishes; their death, then, is to submit ourselves in all things to the judgment and will of others. The life of the desire for esteem and respect is to be well thought of by everyone; its death, therefore, is to hide ourselves so as not to be known, by means of continual acts of humility and self-abasement. Until one succeeds in dying in this manner, he will never be a servant of God, nor will God ever perfectly live in him.-----St. Mary Magdalen de' Pazzi

With great frankness this beautiful soul expressed to others so lofty a sentiment, because she knew that it was precisely in this way that, to her infinite profit, she had attained to the death of her own flesh, her own judgment and will, and her own human respect; of her own flesh, which she never ceased to treat with the greatest harshness and rigor; of her own judgment and will, which she always strove to keep subject to, and dependent upon, others; of her human respect, by abhorring and avoiding constantly every occasion of being honored and esteemed.

Another great example of this was the glorious St. Philip Neri, who chastised his body severely with hair-cloth and the discipline. While quite young, he lived for years almost entirely upon bread and water. When he became a priest, he added to this spare diet only a little wine, some herbs or fruit, or perhaps an egg. He rarely took any other dairy products, or fish, or meat, or soup, except on account of illness, or when at table with strangers. As to his own judgment and will, he showed all possible earnestness in banishing all that could feed either, and in trampling upon both to the extent of his power. But he rendered himself especially admirable in combating and annihilating that regard for human esteem, which is so dangerous an enemy to corrupt humanity, and from which even the holiest souls are not exempt. To subdue this common adversary, he made it his object to be considered by all a vile and abject creature, and took care, on every occasion, to give cause for such an idea of him. With this intention, he would do things that, both at home and abroad, appeared like folly.

Many examples of this are recorded, of which we will mention a few. Once he began to jump and dance in front of a church, where there was a great concourse of people on account of a festival held there, and one in the crowd was heard to say: "Look at that old fool!" Again, meeting a water carrier in a busy street, he asked leave to drink from one of his casks; and when it was granted, he put his mouth to the opening and drank with much apparent satisfaction, while the carrier wondered that a man of his position should drink in that way in the presence of so many people. Another time, he drank in the same manner from the flask of St. Felix the Capuchin, in view of many. Being invited one day to dinner by Cardinal Alexandrino, he took with him one of his penitents, whom he told to bring him a handful of beans ready cooked, concealed under his mantle. When all were seated at the table, he had them brought out, for the sake of appearing ill-bred. But the Cardinal, who knew his virtues, instead of taking the matter ill and despising him, asked for some himself, and so did all the guests. Cardinal Gesualdo, who loved him tenderly, thought a coat of martin fur would be useful to him, on account of his advanced age and constant attendance in the confessional. He gave him one, exacting, at the same time, a promise that he would wear it. The Saint kept the promise, but made use of the occasion to cause himself to be laughed at, by wearing it all the time in public for a month, walking with a dignified air, and stopping now and then to look at it. For the same purpose, he went many times through Rome, accompanied by his penitents, carrying an immense bunch of flowers. Once when he had had his beard shaved only on one side, he came out in public, leaping and rejoicing, as if it were a great victory.

At home he was continually doing such things. He often wore a pair of white slippers, with a little cap on his head, and a red vest, which came down to his knees, over his long cassock. In this costume he received whoever came to visit him, even if they were men of rank or great nobles. He kept in his room books of stories, jest books, and others of a similar sort, and when gentlemen came to see him, especially if they were of high rank, he would have one of them read, and listen to it with a great show of attention and pleasure. He did this in a marked manner when Pope Clement VIII sent him some Polish nobles, that they might gain fervor and edification from his discourse. When he was informed that they were coming, he immediately told one of his household to take one of these books and read it to him, not stopping till he should tell him. When the noblemen arrived, he said to them, without disturbing himself at all: "Please wait till we come to the end of this interesting story." While the reading went on, he showed great attention and pleasure, like a person who is listening to something important and profitable. Finally he stopped it and said to the visitors: "Have I not still some fine books? Was not that one worth listening to?" And so he went on, without uttering a word on spiritual subjects. The strangers remained for a time, exchanging glances with one another, and then went away astonished and annoyed. After they were gone, he had the book put away, saying, "We have done what was necessary." For it was precisely what he desired----that these distinguished strangers should have a low opinion of him.


Whoever taketh not up his cross and followeth Me, is not worthy of Me.----Matt. 10:38

1. The Cross is the true gate through which to enter into the temple of holiness; and by any other way it is not possible to come into it. Therefore, we ought more than once to immolate our hearts to the love of Jesus, upon that same altar of the Cross on which He sacrificed His love for us.

Father Alvarez made this resolution: "I will consider all aridity, disquiet, and every trial which shall come to me in prayer as a martyrdom, and as such I will bear them with constancy." He pursued this course faithfully for sixteen years, after which he had so many consolations and celestial lights as were an abundant recompense for all the sufferings he had previously endured.

St. Teresa bore the greatest aridity for eighteen years, and then to what heights was she not exalted!

St. Bernard [pictured above] said of himself: "All those things that the world loves, such as pleasure, honors, praise, and riches, are to me crosses; and all things which the world counts as crosses, I seek and embrace with the greatest affection."

2. If you see that you have not yet suffered tribulations, consider it certain that you have not begun to be a true servant of God; for the Apostle says plainly that all who choose to live piously in Christ, shall suffer persecutions.----St. Augustine

St. Athanasius, St. Basil, St. John Chrysostom, St. Jerome, and St. Cyril were all charged with a thousand crimes, and in that way were greatly afflicted.

St. Romualdo was slanderously accused by one of his monks of the commission of a shameful crime, was condemned in a public assembly to be burnt at the stake as a punishment, and in the meantime was suspended from his function as a priest. But, though he was then a centenarian, he bore all with the greatest tranquillity.

St. Francis Xavier was grieved when he saw everything going on successfully with him in Lisbon; and if such favorable circumstances had continued to exist, he would have thought that he was not serving God well.

3. By working out our salvation through sufferings, the Son of God has wished to teach us that there is nothing in us so fitted to glorify God and to sanctify our souls as suffering. Yes, yes, to suffer for love of the Lord is the way of truth! Therefore, the more one can suffer, the more let him suffer, for he will be the most fortunate of all; and whoever does not resolve upon this, will never make much progress.----St. Teresa

St. Mary Magdalen de' Pazzi was so much enamored of suffering that she said: "I do not desire to die soon, because in Heaven there is nothing to suffer; but I desire to live a long time, because I wish to suffer long for love of my Spouse. Nor would I have a brief martyrdom only, but an accumulation of pains, calumnies, misfortunes, and all adversities that can possibly happen to me." And when she went through a long and painful illness this not only failed to extinguish in her this great thirst for suffering, but after tasting it in such a way, she longed for it the more, so that while the Superior endeavored to lessen her hardships for the preservation of her health, she was at the same time seeking in every way to invent new kinds of sufferings that no one would perceive. It happened one day, in the course of her last illness, that having received a marked affront, she not only bore it patiently, but showed signs of particular friendship for the offender. When one of the Sisters manifested astonishment, she told her that she was glad she had not died before it occurred, that she might not lose such an excellent opportunity for suffering.

4. The way is narrow. Whoever expects to walk in it with ease must go detached from all things, leaning on the staff of the Cross; that is firmly resolving to be willing to suffer in all things for love of God.----St. John of the Cross

Taulerus relates that he knew a great servant of God who had many visions and revelations, and was aquainted with the interpretations of Scripture and the secrets of hearts. But becoming afraid that gifts of one sort might prove a hindrance to favors of another kind, and so prevent him from being loved by God, he earnestly besought the Lord to be pleased to take away from him every consolation; and he was heard. For five years in succession, he never had the slightest spiritual joy nor any celestial inspiration or illumination, but always led a life full of afflictions, temptations and spiritual aridity. Finally, the Lord was moved with pity at so much suffering, and one day sent two angels to console him a little. But he, contented in his sorrows, refused this consolation, and turning his heart to God said: "O Lord, I do not desire any pleasure in this world, nor do I wish that anyone should enter my heart save Thyself, O my Beloved! for it is enough consolation for me if Thy holy will be done in me." This beautiful act of detachment pleased God so much that the Eternal Father proclaimed him His beloved child, in these words: Tu es filius Meus in quo Mihi bene complacui----Thou art My son, in whom I am well pleased.

5. If anyone, O Lord does Thee a service, Thou repayest him by some trial. Oh, what an inestimable reward is this for those who truly love Thee, if it might be given them to know its value!----St. Teresa

When the venerable Marco di Palfox saw that after he had done a good work, some tribulation, reproach, or calumny came upon him, he considered this as a special favor from the Lord; "For," he said, ''as I receive no reward in this world, it is a sign that God means to reward me fully in Heaven."
The Lord once appeared to the blessed Clara di Montefalco and offered her for a gift a cross which hung from His neck. The Saint received the present with the greatest consolation; and there was then impressed upon her heart an image of the crucifix, of the size of a finger. She preserved this so well that, in her last agony, when one of the nuns was looking for a cross upon the bed, she said to her, "Take my heart, for you will find the crucifix there." In fact, it was found there after her death.

6. O ye souls who wish to go on with so much safety and consolation, if you knew how pleasing to God is suffering, and how much it helps in acquiring other good things, you would never seek consolation in anything; but you would rather look upon it as a great happiness to bear the Cross after the Lord.----St. John of the Cross

Blessed William the Abbot saw, one night in a dream, some Angels who were weaving a crown of marvellous richness and beauty; and when he asked them for whom they were making it, they said that it was for him, and would be finished when he had suffered enough.

St. Gertrude once prayed the Lord, at the time of the Carnival, to show her some special service pleasing to Him that she might perform on those three days, on which He had to suffer so many insults from the world. The Lord made her this reply: "My daughter, you will never be able to do Me a greater service at any time than bearing patiently, in honor of My Passion, whatever tribulation may come to you, whether it be interior or exterior, always forcing yourself to do all those things that are most contrary to your desires."

The Lord appeared one day to St. Teresa and addressed her thus: "Know that those souls are most pleasing to My Heavenly Father, that are tried by the very greatest afflictions and sufferings!" From that time, the Saint conceived such a love for suffering that she found no consolation but in bearing it; and when she was without any trouble, she was disquieted, and even said that she would not have exchanged her trials for all the treasures in the world; and she often had upon her lips those beautiful words, "To suffer, or to die." After her death, she appeared to one of the Sisters, and revealed to her that she was rewarded in Heaven for nothing so much as for the contradiction she had suffered in life, and that if she could wish to return to earth for any reason, the only one would be that she might suffer something.

7. One ounce of the Cross is worth more than a million pounds of prayer. One day of crucifIXion is worth more than a hundred years of all other exercises. It is worth more to remain a moment upon the Cross, than to taste the delights of Paradise.----Ven. Sister Maria Vittoria Angelini

St. Bridget once received and bore patiently a succession of trials from various persons. One of them made an insulting remark to her; another praised her in her presence, but complained of her in her absence; another calumniated her; another spoke ill of a servant of God, in her presence, to her great displeasure; one did her a grievous wrong, and she blessed her; one caused her a loss, and she prayed for her; and a seventh gave her false information of the death of her son, which she received with tranquillity and resignation. After all this, St. Agnes the Martyr appeared to her, bringing in her hand a most beautiful crown adorned with seven precious stones, telling her that they had been placed there by these seven persons. Then she put it upon her head and disappeared. How could so much have been gained by any other exercise?

The Blessed Angela di Foligno, when asked how she was able to receive and endure sufferings with so much cheerfulness, replied: "Believe me, the grandeur and value of sufferings are not known to us. For, if we knew the worth of our trials, they would become for us objects of plunder, and we should go about trying to snatch from one another opportunities to suffer."

8. One "Thanks be to God," or one "Blessed be God," in adversity, is worth more than a thousand thanksgivings in prosperity.----Father M. d' Avila

When St. Francis was suffering much bodily pain in illness, one of his monks told him that he would pray to God to grant him some relief. The Saint reproved him, and bowing his head to the ground, said: "O Lord, I give Thee thanks for this pain which I am suffering, and I pray Thee to be pleased to increase it. What can or should be more acceptable to me than this, that Thou shouldst afflict me without mercy, for this is the very thing that I desire above all."

9. If the Lord should give you power to raise the dead, He would give much less than He does when He bestows suffering. By miracles you would make yourself debtor to Him, while by suffering He may become debtor to you. And even if sufferings had no other. reward than being able to bear something for that God who loves you, is not this a great reward and a sufficient remuneration? Whoever loves, understands what I say.----St. John Chrysostom

This Saint set so high a value on suffering, that he even said: "I venerate St. Paul not so much for having been raised to the third heaven, as for the imprisonment he suffered. And so, if I were asked whether I would be placed in Heaven among the Angels, or in prison with Paul, I would prefer the latter. And if it were left to my choice whether I should be Peter in chains, or the Angels that released him, I would certainly rather be the first than the second."

St. Louis the King, when conversing with the King of England about the slavery he endured in Turkey, in which he suffered many trials, expressed himself in this manner: "I thank God for the ill success of that war, and I rejoice more at the patience which the Lord granted me at that time, than if I had subjugated the country."

The Lord once appeared to the Blessed Baptista Verrani, and said to her: "Believe, My daughter, that I have shown you greater love in sending you afflictions, than in lavishing upon you every mark of tenderness. In what could I show My love more than in seeking for you what I chose for Myself? Know that to keep from sin is a great good, to perform good works a greater, but the greatest of all is to suffer."

10. It ought to be considered a great misfortune, not only for individuals, but also for Houses and Congregations, to have everything in conformity with their wishes; to go on quietly, and to suffer nothing for the love of God. Yes, consider it certain that a person or a Congregation that does not suffer and is applauded by all the world is near a fall.----St. Vincent de Paul

How fully St. Vincent was persuaded of this truth, he showed by the manner in which he informed his disciples of a considerable loss which had befallen the house. "As I had been considering," he said, "for a long time how happily the affairs of the Congregation were going on, and how well everything succeeded, I began to be much afraid of this calm, for I knew that God is accustomed to try His servants. But blessed be the Divine Goodness, which has designed to visit us with a very considerable loss."

A holy old man who was very often sick was much grieved at passing a whole year without an illness, saying that God must have abandoned him, as He had ceased to visit him.

Sts. Francis and Andrew Avellino entertained the same sentiments. They thought on any day when they suffered nothing for the love of God, that He had forgotten and abandoned them.
One night when Father Avila was sick, his pain increased excessively after the candle went out and the attendants had gone to sleep. He was unwilling to awake them, but after a while, overcome by the sharpness of the pain, he prayed the Lord to be pleased to deliver him from such agony. He then fell asleep, and on awaking, found himself free from pain. Whereupon, he said to one of his disciples, "What a severe blow the Lord has dealt me this night!" By this he meant that in hearing his prayer, God had taken from him the occasion of suffering and of meriting.

11. We have never so much cause for consolation, as when we find ourselves oppressed by sufferings and trials; for these make us like Christ our Lord, and this resemblance is the true mark of our predestination.----St. Vincent de Paul

No one has understood this great truth so well as St. Andrew the Apostle. At first sight of the cross on which he was to be crucified, he was filled with joy, and broke forth into this exclamation: "O cross so much desired, so much loved, and so much sought by me! behold how I come to thee full of security and joy! Do thou separate me from men, and restore me to my Master, so that by thy means He may receive me, who by thy means redeemed me."

The Lord once said to St. Gertrude: "The more you are tried, and the more your way of life is disapproved without any fault of your own, the dearer you will be to Me, on account of the increased resemblance to Me which you will thus attain; for anyone who greatly resembles a king, is usually very dear to him; and I lived in constant suffering, and was opposed in all I did."
When St. Matilda was suffering from a severe illness, Jesus Christ came to her and told her that when He beheld persons grievously afflicted and tormented, He embraced them with His left arm, to draw them very near His heart.

12. There is no more evident sign that anyone is a Saint and of the number of the elect, than to see him leading a good life and at the same time a prey to desolation, suffering, and trials.----St. Aloysius Gonzaga

Because St. Ignatius Loyola was perfect and dear to God, persecutions came upon him to such an extent that it would often happen that while he was at a distance, his companions lived in great tranquillity, and immediately upon his return, some trial would fall upon the house.

St. Teresa once received some money from a merchant who recommended himself to her prayers. A little while after, she said to him: "I have prayed for you, and it has been revealed to me that your name is written in the Book of Life; and as a token of this, nothing in future will go on prosperously with you." And this came to pass exactly; for, within a short time, all his ships were lost, and he became bankrupt. When his friends heard of these disasters, they provided him with another ship, which was also soon wrecked. Then, of his own accord, he entered the debtors' prison. But his creditors, knowing how good he was, would not harm him, and set him free. Having thus become poor, he ended his life like a Saint, content with God alone.

13. If God causes you to suffer much, it is a sign that He has great designs for you, and that He certainly intends to make you a Saint. And if you wish to become a great Saint, entreat Him yourself to give you much opportunity for suffering; for there is no wood better to kindle the fire of holy love than the wood of the cross, which Christ used for His own great sacrifice of boundless charity.----St. Ignatius Loyola

Joseph suffered great afflictions and trials from his brethren, and these formed precisely the way by which the Lord led him to his great exaltation.

St. Teresa, who was formed for so lofty a destiny, suffered incredible trials from all sorts of people, even from the good and spiritual. Many considered her deluded by the devil. Many ridiculed her prayers and revelations. Some wished to exorcise her as possessed. Others accused her to the Holy Office; and she suffered, besides, much opposition and trouble from her Superiors, in regard to the monasteries which she founded.

14. There is no better test to distinguish the chaff from the grain, in the Church of God, than the manner in which sufferings, contradiction, and contempt are borne. Whoever remains unmoved under these, is grain. Whoever rises against them is chaff; and the lighter and more worthless he is, the higher he rises----that is, the more he is agitated, and the more proudly he replies.----St. Augustine

A person of high rank presented himself to St. Francis de Sales to ask a benefice for an ecclesiastic who enjoyed his patronage. The Saint replied that as to conferring benefices he had tied his own hands, for he had decided that they should be given only after a competitive examination; but that he would not forget his recommendation, if this priest would offer himself to be examined with the others. The gentleman, who was quick-tempered, believing this to be only a pretext for refusal, accused him of duplicity and hypocrisy, and even threatened him. When the Saint perceived that gentle words did no good, he entreated him not to object at least to a private examination; and, as he was still dissatisfied, "Then," said St. Francis, "you wish that I should entrust to him a portion of my charge with my eyes closed? Consider whether that is just!" At this, the gentleman began to raise his voice angrily, and to make all kinds of insulting remarks to the holy bishop, who bore all in unbroken silence.

An acquaintance of his, who was present, asked him after the scene was over how he had been able to endure such insults without showing the least resentment. "Do not be astonished at this," said the Saint, "for it was not he that spoke, but his anger. Outside of this he is one of my dearest friends, and you will see after a while that my silence will increase his attachment for me." "But did you not feel any resentment at all?" pursued the other. "I turned my thoughts in another direction," was the answer, "setting myself to consider the good qualities of this person, whose friendship I had previously so much enjoyed." The gentleman afterwards came and asked pardon, even with tears, and they became firmer friends than ever before. One day, as St. Felix the Capuchin was going through the street in Rome with a flask of wine on his back, he met a gentleman on a spirited horse, which he spurred so furiously that it trampled upon one foot of the servant of God, who fell to the ground. The flask was broken, and the wine ran out upon the pavement, mingled with the blood which flowed freely from the wound. All the bystanders, affrighted at the accident, expressed their pity for the Saint. He alone retained his usual serenity of countenance, and looking at the gentleman with a mild glance, asked his pardon for his imprudence and rudeness in obstructing his path. The rider, however, instead of appreciating so much virtue, was angry, and with a haughty look and without a word of answer, spurred his horse and rode proudly away. Brother Felix, being assisted to rise by those who had gathered around, went back to his monastery as best he might. As he was not able to walk quickly for some time, on account of the injury to his foot, he used to say to himself: "Get on, you beast of an ass! what are you loitering for? You are so slow and spiritless that you will deserve the stick!" Then turning his heart to God, he would break forth into devout thanksgivings for His infinite goodness. But after the gentleman had recollected himself a little and reflected upon the wrong he had done by his scornful treatment of an innocent and holy religious, he went the next day to the monastery and falling on his knees before the Saint, begged pardon for the proud and cruel treatment he had given him. The servant of God forgave him with so much cordiality and courtesy, that he resolved to change his habits and his whole life.

This beautiful truth was known even to pagan philosophers. St. Basil relates of Socrates, that when he was one day struck in the face, in the public square, by one of the rabble, he not only showed no anger at such an insult but, with tranquil mind and serene countenance, stood quite still until his face was livid with blows. Still more remarkable is this anecdote of Epictetus. One day his master, who had a violent temper, gave him a blow on one leg. He said to him coolly, that he had better take care not to break it; and when, by repeated blows, his master actually broke the bone, Epictetus added, without any emotion: "Did I not tell you that you were running a risk of breaking it?"

15. It is certain that the true spirit is inclined rather to afflictions, aridity, disgust, and trials, than to sweet and pleasing communications; for it knows that the former is that following of Christ and that denial of self so much inculcated by the Lord.----St. John of the Cross

The Lord appeared to St. Catherine with two crowns in His hand, one of gold, the other of thorns, and told her to choose whichever she preferred. She chose the second. From that time she conceived so great a love for afflictions and trials, that she said: "There is nothing that consoles me so much, and gives me so much comfort, as afflictions and crosses, and it seems to me that if I had not this support from time to time I should live the most wretched life in the world; and if God should give me my choice whether to go now into Paradise or to remain a little longer here to suffer, I should choose the latter rather than the former, for I know how much glory is increased by sufferings."

The blessed Maria d'Ognes used to sleep with the ground for her bed, a stone for her pillow, and hair-cloth for a blanket. Being one day tried beyond measure by the pains of paralysis, she uttered such mournful sighs that a holy man prayed to God for her, and she was relieved from her illness. But when she was sensible of the cure, she sent to ask the saint not to pray for her any more, saying that she valued sickness much more than health.

16. Those who have arrived at perfection, and especially true contemplatives, do not ask the Lord to free them from trials and temptations. They rather desire and value them as worldlings value gold and jewels, for they know that these are to make them rich.----St. Teresa

St. Catherine of Genoa once said in the midst of extreme pain and severe torture: "O Lord! it is thirty-six years since Thou first gavest me spiritual light, and ever since, I have desired nothing but sufferings, interior and exterior."

The Venerable Anna Maria of St. Joseph, a Discalced Carmelite and a person of no ordinary piety, exercised her- self continually in the sharpest penances and austerities. When the others tried to turn her away from these practices, she replied: "No, I will never cease until the Lord satiates me with His griefs and reproaches:' She often said, too, that she wished for neither relics, nor rosary, nor a cell, nor anything but a cross upon which to crucify herself.
St. Francis Xavier, when he had a cross, used to make this prayer: "O Lord, do not take it away from me, unless to give me a greater."

17. Kiss frequently the crosses which the Lord sends you, and with all your heart, without regarding of what sort they may be; for the more vile and mean they are, the more they deserve their name. The merit of crosses does not consist in their weight, but in the manner in which they are borne. It may show much greater virtue to bear a cross of straw than a very hard and heavy one, because the light ones are also the most hidden and contemned, and therefore least comfortable to our inclination, which always seeks what is showy.----St. Francis de Sales

In the many long and painful journeys made by this Saint, he was never heard to complain of cold, or wind, or the heat of the sun or the quality of his food; but he took all things peacefully from the hand of God, and was particularly pleased with the worst and most inconvenient articles----and when he could, he always chose them for himself.

Mention is made in the Chronicles of St. Dominic of a novice of that Order who died in the monastery of Argentina and who opened his eyes unexpectedly, while the religious were saying the last prayers for his soul, and said: "Listen, dearest Brothers: I am like one who goes to a fair, and buys a great deal for a little money. Behold, I am receiving the Kingdom of Heaven for a few trials, and I do not see how I deserve it." Having spoken thus, he reposed in the Lord.

St. John Climacus says that he found in a monastery a young monk who received little penances from the Superior for trifling faults, and haughty and discourteous treatment from almost all the rest. The Saint showed sympathy for him, and wished to console him; but the good youth said: "Father, do not give yourself any trouble. They treat me in this way, not because they have bad dispositions and little charity, but the Lord permits it to exercise me in patience, which is necessary to show whether I am serving God truly. Certainly I have no cause to complain, for even gold is not made perfect without being tried." Two years after, added the holy Abbot, this youth passed to a better life, saying to his Brothers before he expired: "I render thanks to Jesus Christ and to you, Fathers, and I testify that through having been tried by you to my profit and advancement, I have lived free from the snares of the devil, and now depart in peace."

In the Lives of the Fathers, a story is told of a holy monk who every night gave his disciple an instruction, and afterwards sent him to rest. Now, one evening while giving it, the old man fell asleep, and the good novice, while waiting for him to awake, was much tempted to impatience and to go away to sleep. He conquered himself, however, seven times, with great earnestness and fervor. At midnight, the old man awoke and dismissed him. While saying his final prayers, the old Father had a vision of an Angel, who showed him a most beautiful throne with seven crowns above it. In answer to his questions, the Angel said that they were for his disciple, who had gained them that night by his victory over seven temptations. When his disciples told him all in the morning, he was struck with wonder to see how bountifully God recompenses all our good actions.

18. If we could but know what a precious treasure lies concealed in infirmities, we would receive them with as much joy as we would the greatest benefits, and we would bear them without complaint or any sign of annoyance.----St. Vincent de Paul

This Saint was tried by many long and most painful infirmities, which often deprived him of the use of his limbs, and left him no rest by day or night. He bore them all with unalterable tranquillity, and conversed with the same affability and serenity of countenance that he had when he was well. A word of complaint never escaped from his lips, but he praised and thanked God constantly for sending to him these sufferings, and looked on them as special favors. The most he did when the pain was at its worst, was to turn to the crucifix and animate himself to patience by devout interior aspirations. If he ever happened to speak of his sufferings, he mentioned them as a thing of no account, saying that he suffered little in comparison with what he deserved, or with what Christ suffered for love of us. One of his household was one day applying a dressing to his limbs, which were diseased for forty years, when moved with compassion at seeing them so swollen and ulcerated, he exclaimed, "Alas, how grievous are your sufferings!" But the Saint quickly replied: "How can you apply the word grievous to the work of God, and His Divine arrangement in causing a miserable sinner to suffer? May God pardon you for what you have just said! This is not the way to speak in the school of Christ! Is it not right that the guilty should suffer and be chastised? And cannot the Lord do with us whatever pleases Him?"

Once writing of his sufferings to an intimate friend, he said: "I did not wish to let you know of my sickness, fearing it would make you sad. But God is good! How long shall we be so weak that we shall not have courage to reveal to one another the graces and favors God bestows on us in visiting us with sickness? May it please His Divine goodness to give us a little more spirit, that we may find our satisfaction in His!" Through all his illnesses he never ceased to take an interest in the affairs of the house and of the whole Congregation. He received persons of all sorts, whether belonging to his Order or not, if they came to him on business or for other reasons, and always with such a smiling face and with so much amiability and serenity that if they had not known his state of health from others, they would have considered him well. Neither did such great infirmities cause him to change his usual mode of life. Up to his death he continued to sleep on straw, and to take the common food. When the physicians and some persons of rank tried to persuade him to take delicacies, he did so once or twice to please them, but immediately returned to what he generally ate, under the pretext that his stomach would not bear other food.

When St. Felix the Capuchin was suffering severely from colic, he was asked, by the doctor, how he felt, and answered: "The wicked ass of a body would be glad to escape the stick, but it must stand and receive the blow." When he was urged to have recourse to the divine aid, by invoking the most holy name of Jesus, from whom he might expect relief----"What do you say?" cried the Saint, "to what do you advise me? Never! These are not pains, but celestial flowers which Paradise produces, and the Lord shares among His children." Then he began to praise and bless the Divine Goodness which dealt thus with him.

19. There are some sick persons who grieve and lament not so much for their own troubles, as for what they cause to those around them, and because they cannot occupy themselves in good works, and especially in prayer, as they did when they were well. In this they deceive themselves greatly, for as to the trouble given to others, whoever is truly patient wishes for all that God wishes, and in the manner and with the inconveniences that He wishes; as to works, one day of suffering borne with resignation is worth more than a month of great labors; and as to prayer, which is better: to remain upon the Cross with Christ, or to stay at the foot of it and contemplate His sufferings? Besides, to offer to the Lord His own weakness, to remember for whom it was suffered, and to conform ourselves to His holy will, is certainly a very excellent prayer.----St. Francis de Sales

This Saint bore well not only the afflictions and trials which came to him, but also their consequences, such as the inconvenience which his illnesses caused those who waited on him or lived with him. And in all other things it was the same.

Father Alvarez saw, in a trance, the great glory which God had prepared for a nun who was tried by a most grievous illness, which she bore with all possible patience. He said that she had merited more in eight months of sickness than some healthy and devout persons in many years.
St. Aldegonda, having been forewarned of the day of her death, prayed the Lord to send her first some painful disease, that purified by it, she might fly the more lightly to Heaven. She was heard, for there came to her an acute fever with very sharp pain. In this state she rejoiced, considering the fever a refreshing coolness; the pain, consolation; and the sweats, a soothing bath by which she should be thoroughly purified for her flight to Heaven.

While St. Francis was suffering very acute pain in his eyes, he gave thanks constantly to God, and prayed to Him for perseverance in His service. One day the Lord said to him: "Rejoice, Francis, for the treasure of eternal life is in store for you, and these pains are a pledge of it."
When St. Vincent de Paul was seriously ill, he used to practice a method of prayer which was easily and pleasant, and at the same time profitable. It was to remain quietly in the presence of God, without forcibly applying his intellect to any considerations, only exciting his soul to frequent acts of resignation to the will of God, confidence, love, or thanksgiving.

20. Observe that we gain more in a single day by trials which come to us from God and our neighbor, than we would in ten years by penances and other exercises, which we take up of ourselves.----St. Teresa

St. Lionina, after suffering for thirty-eight years from a cruel disease, longed to endure yet greater pains, and to finish her course as a martyr. While she was burning with this desire, she was uplifted in an ecstasy, and saw a most beautiful crown, still unfinished, which she was told was in preparation for her. Eager to have it completed, she prayed the Lord to increase her torments, and He sent two soldiers, who tortured her with blows and insults. After this, an Angel appeared to her with a crown in his hand, quite finished, and told her that these last trials had placed in it the jewels that were previously wanting.

An Angel appeared one day to the blessed Henry Suso, and offered him a shield, a lance, and spurs, saying: "Hitherto you have fought among the infantry, and now you will join the calvary; hitherto you have practiced mortifications of your own choice, now you shall be mortified by the scourge of evil tongues; hitherto you have enjoyed milk from the breast of Christ, now you shall be inebriated with His gall; hitherto you have been pleasing to men, now they will rise against you." The following day, as the servant of God was meditating upon this vision, he felt impelled to go to the window, and on looking out, he saw a goat in the courtyard with a rag in its mouth, which it was pulling and tearing. Then he heard a voice which' said: "Thus are you to be torn by the mouths of others." He, thereupon, went downstairs and picked up the rag, which he preserved as a precious pledge of his cross.

21. He has not true patience who is willing to suffer only what he pleases, and from whom he pleases. The truly patient man does not regard the length nor the kind of his sufferings, not yet the person who makes him suffer----whether he be a superior, an equal, or an inferior; whether he be a holy man or ill-disposed and dishonorable. His only aim is to suffer.----Thomas a Kempis

We are told, in the Lives of the Fathers, of a young monk who dwelt with an aged monk who went every morning to the city to sell the articles which they had both made on the preceding day, and who spent all they brought upon wine for himself, bringing home only a bit of bread for the youth. The young man bore this way of life for three years; but at last, finding himself in rags and dying of hunger, he began to consider whether it would not be well to leave such a companion and go elsewhere. Then an Angel appeared to him and said: "Have patience a little longer, for tomorrow you shall be with me in Paradise:' He told this vision to the old man, who did not believe it. But the following day, as they were discussing the matter, the holy youth peacefully expired, and the old man was converted and mourned for his previous life.

22. The Lord sends us tribulation and infirmities to give us the means of paying the immense debts we have contracted with Him. Therefore, those who have good sense receive them joyfully, for they think more of the good which they may derive from them than of the pain which they experience on account of them.----St. Vincent Ferrer

This Saint unfolded this same sentiment more fully in a sermon which contained this pleasing parable: There was a king who had in prison two men who both owed him large sums of money. Seeing that they were unable to pay because they possessed nothing, he threw down a purse full of money upon each of them with so much force that they both felt the pain. One, angry at the blow, showed his impatience without making any account of the purse; but the other, not regarding the pain, recognized the favor done him, and taking the purse, gave thanks to the king and paid his debt with the money. "Now, precisely the same thing happens with us," added the Saint. "We all owe heavy debts to God for the many benefits we have received from Him, and for the many sins we have committed against Him, nor have we anything of our own to pay them. Therefore, moved by pity for us, He sends us the gold of patience in the purse of tribulations, that we may use it to pay our debts. Whoever will not do this only increases his debts and renders himself, at the same time, more displeasing to God."

The example of the two thieves crucified with Christ confirms this truth. By his patience, one paid his debts and gained Paradise; while the other, by his impatience, made himself more than ever a debtor, and obtained for himself eternal pains.

Cesairus tells of a Cistercian monk who appeared to his Abbot in great glory the night after his death, and said to him: "Know, my Father, that the sharp pains and tortures of my illness supplied for me the place of Purgatory by anticipation; and therefore I rose directly from earth to Heaven."
23. Do not be vexed at the contradictions you meet in ordinary intercourse, for they give an opportunity to practice the most precious and amiable virtues, which Our Lord has recommended to us. Believe me that true virtue is no more reared in outward repose, than good fish in the stagnant water of a swamp. How shall we prove our love for God, who has suffered so much for us, if not among contradictions and repugnances?----St. Francis de Sales

The blessed Seraphino the Capuchin was once in company with his Superiors and a young secular, who, seeing him so simple, humble, and imperturbable, took a fancy to tyrannize over him and to go so far as to slight, insult, and even strike him. Brother Seraphino, unmoved by all these insults, only said, with perfect amiability: "Ah, my little Saint! my little Saint!" (It was by this name that he would call those who insulted him.) "Let us do good in the service of God."
One of the Fathers of the Desert used to imagine Jesus Christ standing by his side in his tribulations, and saying to him: "You are My brother, and are you not ashamed to make any difficulty about suffering this, when you know how much I have suffered for you?"

24. If any house should be found where there was no monk who was troublesome and of a bad disposition, it would be well to look for one, and to pay him at a high rate for the great good that results from this evil when judiciously managed.----St. Bernard

When St. Philip Neri was living at San Girolamo, he had a great concourse of penitents. The sacristans of the church, annoyed by this, took a dislike to him, and did him all the ill-turns they could. Sometimes when he was going to say Mass, they locked the door in his face; or they would not give him the sacred vestments, or only cheap and torn ones, with many rude and insulting remarks.

      Sometimes they took from his hands the missal and chalice, or hid them, or compelled him to take off his vestments when he already had them on. Again, they would make him leave one altar and go to another, or perhaps back to the sacristy----and all to irritate him and induce him to leave the place. But the holy man, without ever complaining of the bad treatment he received, or giving any sign of annoyance, went on concealing his feelings and praying for these men, treating them also with charity and respect, and doing them any services that he could. Though he was often urged by his friends to go and live elsewhere, he would not do it, "because," said he, "I do not wish to fly from the cross which God sends me." This lasted for some years. Finally, seeing that he accomplished nothing by his charity and humility and that his enemies, in- stead of being softened, rather increased in pertinacity, he had recourse to God for some relief; and one day in particular, fixing his eyes upon a crucifix, he said: "O my good Jesus! why dost Thou not hear me? For so long a time, and with so much earnestness, I have asked for patience; why hast Thou not listened to me?" Then he heard a voice in his heart, which said: "Dost thou not ask Me for patience? I will give it to thee, but it is by this means that I wish thee to gain it." Thence forward, he bore all with greater cheerfulness, and with the most perfect content, to such a degree that he no longer felt any of their injuries, but greatly desired them; and when he was ill-treated by these men or by others, he made no account of it and did not speak of it, nor allow it to be spoken of. If he ever heard any evil said of those who had offended him, he promptly excused them, praised them, and, if it was suitable, visited and protected them. On this account, he acquired such a liking for the place that for thirty years he would never leave it. He could not be induced to abandon his beloved place of suffering, even when he had built the new Oratory of the new church, and many of his sons had gone to live there. Though they tried to prove to him the suitableness and the obligation of living with them as he was their founder and head, all their entreaties and prayers were of no avail until, finally, the authority of the Pope was interposed to give them success.

25. In this life there is no Purgatory, but either Paradise or Hell. He who bears tribulations with patience, has Paradise; he who does not, Hell.----St. Philip Neri

A prisoner at the bar once called for a Jesuit Father, and said to him: "Father, I wish you to know that I, too, was once of your Order. For some time, I was exact in the observance of the Rules; I lived content, and did everything with ease and pleasure. Then I began, little by little, to relax, till after a time I found so much difficulty and trouble in every trifle, that it seemed best to leave the Order. Finally, you see where my sins have brought me. I have told you this that my example might be of use to others." When St. Francis de Sales was ill, it was a matter of great edification to notice how simply he told his symptoms, without exaggeration or complaint, how patiently and uncomplainingly he bore them and how he received all remedies without opposition. Though he sometimes suffered most cruel pains in his inferior nature, he always preserved an unalterable serenity of brow and eye, as if he were not suffering at all. Thus he came to enjoy Paradise even while suffering, unlike so many others, who, at every trifling pain, seem impatient and inconsolable.

26. Learn, my Sisters, to suffer something for the love of God, without letting everyone know it.----St. Teresa

On a Good Friday, the venerable Father Daponte asked Our Lord the favor of giving him a share in His sufferings. He answered by sending him fearful pains for the rest of his life, which he received with the greatest possible joy. Once being asked how he felt, he replied: "Oh, how well God chastises this sinner! I tell you that except my head, no part of my body is without its own particular pain." A little while after, he repented of having said so much, and made a vow never to reveal his sufferings to anyone, when he could conceal them without displeasing God.

St. Philip Neri, in his illnesses, which were long, severe, and frequent, was seen always with a cheerful countenance and a serene brow; he never gave any sign of pain, however great it might be, nor talked about his sickness, except to the physicians.

For twenty-eight years St. Clare suffered grievous infirmities, and in all that time was never heard to complain of her sufferings, but instead, she thanked God for them.

It is related in the Lives of the Fathers that when the Abbot Stephen was sick, his companions made for him a fried cake but used, by mistake, a kind of oil which was very bitter. The holy Abbot perceived this on tasting it, but ate a little, without saying anything. When another was made in the same way, the Abbot tasted that also, and left it without a word. This would have continued longer, if his companion, wishing to tempt him to eat by example, had not taken a piece himself. When he perceived how bitter it was, he was very much grieved; but the Abbot said: "Do not trouble yourself about it, my son, for if God had not willed that you should mistake one kind of oil for another, you would not have done it."
St. Mary Magdalen de' Pazzi invented a great and secret mortification, which she afterwards practiced for the rest of her life. When she noticed that her Superiors, through regard for her health, tried to give her such food as she liked best, she showed a preference for what was disagreeable and unpleasant to her taste, and made it appear that those things which she really desired were objects of aversion, and would make her ill. And so it happened that what she disliked was often given her, and what would have suited her taste was forbidden. In reward for this, she enjoyed imperturbable peace of soul and the constant presence of God.

27. Whoever aspires to perfection must beware of saying, "I was right. They did that to me without reason." If you are not willing to bear any cross which is not given you according to reason, perfection is not for you.----St. Teresa

When Brother Egidius of Tarentum, a Franciscan lay-brother, was roughly treated by his Superiors or companions or called a useless and unprofitable servant, he never excused himself, but said with a smile, "Give it to Brother Ass, for he deserves much worse!" On account of the miracles he performed in Tarentum, crowds of people gathered about him, to the no small inconvenience of the other Brothers, so that he was sent away to the monastery in Bari. But scarcely had he arrived when multitudes came to the monastery to see him and receive aid from him; and the monks there, blaming him for the disorder, were as much displeased as the others had been. The Father Guardian reproved him severely in Chapter, saying that he was a drunkard, a fool, an idle, restless man, full of hypocrisy and ambition, who sought the credit of performing miracles, that he might be regarded as a Saint. Finally, they gave him the discipline in public. He did not resent any of these things at all, but, without perturbation, said to himself: "Yes, I am just such a wicked and unworthy man; you say truly, Father Guardian, that it is not I who work the miracles, but the Blessed Virgin."

A prelate once ordered St. Vincent de Paul to receive into his house a certain Religious who was engaged in promoting some special work. He did so, and gave him useful advice. But some persons who were not in favor of the work he was advocating complained of the Saint to the same prelate. He, not remembering that it was in pursuance of his own order, called for St. Vincent, and in presence of these persons gave him a sharp reproof, which he received calmly and without a word of self-justification. God, however, brought back to the mind of the prelate the command he had given, and meeting the Saint one day, he made him a suitable apology, and formed a high opinion of him.

St. Peter Martyr was visited, one day, by three holy virgins, and from this accused of admitting women into his room, condemned in public chapter, and sent to a remote monastery; but he bore all this disgrace without a word.

28. If we should regard tribulations with the eye of a Christian, and wholly clear from our minds those mists of worldly wisdom, which oppose the rays of Faith, and do not allow them to penetrate to the depths of our souls; how fortunate should we consider ourselves in being calumniated, and regarded not only as idle and incapable, but even as bad and vicious! Is it not, indeed, a great happiness to be persecuted in doing well, when Christ has called those blessed who suffer for justice?----St. Vincent de Paul

For this reason the Apostles went away cheerful and contented when they found themselves assailed and persecuted by the chief men of the synagogues. St. Paul, too, says of himself that in such troubles, his heart was filled with consolation and joy because he knew, by the light of faith, how great were the value and advantages of tribulations
and trials.

When Brother Juniper was one day insulted by some rude remarks, he took up the folds of his dress, and extending it with both hands, said: "Come now, throw them in, and without any fear fill up this lapful of joys."

Father Alvarez, being informed of a grave calumny that had been spread against him, gave signs of great gladness, and said to the one who had given him the information, and who was gazing at him in wonder: "Now I see that God wishes me well, for He is leading me by the way of those dearest to Him."

A director of the Venerable Maria Seraphina, to whom she revealed her whole life, testifies of her that in all the insults and ridicule which she had suffered, in the bad interpretation which others had put on her good works, and in all her other trials, she never gave way to impatience, nor showed any signs of vexation, but bore everything with the greatest peace and tranquillity both internal and external, always praising and blessing God for the occasion He was giving her to exercise patience. Once when she had received at the grate many reproaches and menaces, which she bore with the most perfect tranquillity of heart and serenity of countenance, one of her nuns, who had heard and seen all with great astonishment, asked her how she felt, and she replied gaily: "Blessed be God! I am all flowers and joys! blessed be God!" Her way of feeling in such cases became so well known to all in the convent that when they saw her coming back from the grate with a bright face, praising and blessing God, they used to say, "Our Mother must have caught something good today"----meaning that she received some cross; and when they inquired afterwards what had happened, they found this to be the case. The servants, too, had noticed this trait even before she left her father's house, and so, when any illness or trouble came to her, they would say, "Now your day has come----this is your jubilee!"

29. If you look at the rod of Moses lying on the ground, it is a frightful serpent; if you look at it in the hand of Moses, it is a wand of power. It is thus with tribulations. Consider them in themselves, and they are horrors; consider them in the will of God, and they are joys and delights.----St. Francis de Sales

St. Mary Magdalen de' Pazzi used to say she did not think there could be found in the world suffering so bitter, adversity so severe, or trials so painful, that she could not bear them cheerfully, by simply persuading herself that it was the will of God. And in fact, in the great sufferings of an illness that lasted five years, and at the time of her death, whenever anyone reminded her that it was the will of God that she should suffer those agonies, it would take away all their bitterness and quiet her at once.

It is told in the Life of St. Lupus that when he heard that the terrible Attila was coming to plunder his episcopal city of Troy, he was first much affrighted. But afterwards, nerved to courage by the spirit of God, he went out to meet him, in his pontifical vestments, in the hope of checking his audacity. When he came into Attila's presence, he asked him who he was. "The scourge of God:' was Attila's reply. At these words, the Saint exclaimed: "And I, who am the spoiler of God's kingdom, well deserve to be scourged by Him!" Then he ordered the gates to be opened without delay. But when the enemy came in, he passed directly through the city, without doing any harm, as if he had seen no one. By this, God willed to show how much He was pleased with the submission and humility of the holy man, in bowing so readily beneath the scourge He had sent him, and in believing that he deserved it.

30. When it is our lot to suffer pain, trials, or ill-treatment, let us turn our eyes upon what Our Lord suffered, which will instantly render our sufferings sweet and supportable. However sharp our griefs may be they will seem but flowers in comparison with His thorns.----St. Francis de Sales

Count Elzearius received many insults even from his own subjects, and bore them all with great tranquillity. Being asked by his wife how he was able to do this, he answered: "When I receive insults from anyone, I turn my thoughts to the great affronts which the Son of God suffered from His creatures, and say to myself, 'Even if they were to pull your beard and strike you, what would this be in comparison with what your Lord suffered with so much patience?' But I can tell you, besides, that I sometimes feel in such cases no slight emotions of anger. Then I quickly turn my mind to some similar injury suffered by Our Lord, and keep it fixed upon that, until the emotion has subsided."

A good woman being once confined to her bed and suffering from many ailments, a friend of hers put a crucifix into her hand, inviting her to pray for relief from such great trials. But she said: "Would you have me seek to descend from the cross, when I hold in my hands a crucifix? God keeps me from it! I will rather suffer for Him, who most willingly underwent for me pains incomparably greater than mine."

When St. Teresa was in great suffering, the Lord appeared to her, showing her His wounds and saying: "Behold, My daughter, the sharpness of My torments, and consider whether thine can be compared to Mine." The Saint was so greatly moved by this that she no longer felt the pain, and would often say afterwards: "When I think in how many ways the Lord suffered, and that for no fault of His own, I do not know of what I was thinking when I complained of my sufferings and tried to escape from them."
A servant of God, being much afflicted by the grievous persecutions, calumny and contempt that he experienced, turned to the Lord and said: "How long, O Lord! must I be so tried, without any fault of mine, as Thou knowest?"

Then the Lord appeared to him, showing His wounds, and answering: "And for what fault had I to be treated thus?"

At this sight he was so much moved, and filled with such great joy, that he did not feel his afflictions at all, and said that he would not have exchanged his condition for that of any monarch on earth.

For thirty-eight years St. Lidwina suffered constantly all kinds of infirmities-gout in her feet and hands, toothache, fevers, and whatever is most painful----and yet she always remained cheerful and happy, because she kept the sufferings of Christ continually in view.

Dionysius the Carthusian tells of a certain novice who became tepid in the divine service. While in the beginning all went easily with him, he afterwards found great difficulty in performing humble offices and in all the exercises of mortification, and, among other things, he felt especial disgust for a miserable habit such as novices were expected to wear. Now, one night Jesus Christ appeared to him in his sleep, with a long and heavy cross on His shoulders, which with His utmost efforts He was dragging up a staircase. Moved with compassion, he offered to help Him. But the Lord, turning upon him a severe look, said: "How do you presume to carry so heavy a cross----you, who cannot bear for love of Me a habit that weighs so little?" The novice, awakened by this reproach, was at once humiliated and aroused, so that, henceforward he wore the habit with great joy and content; and whenever any trial came in his way, at the mere thought of the great sufferings which Christ bore, everything seemed to him easy and pleasant. 

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