None shall be crowned who has not fought well.
------- 2 Tim. 2: 5
Taken from the
of the same title by DOM LORENZO SCUPOLI
$14.50 US $23.26 CDN
IT IS IMPOSSIBLE to prescribe generally any determined space of time to be employed in the acquisition of each virtue, as this is dependent on our various states and dispositions, our progress in the devout life, and the direction of our spiritual guide. It is certain, however, that if the diligence and eagerness previously prescribed are not wanting, within a few weeks we shall make considerable progress.
A certain indication of definite advancement is perseverance in exercises of piety, in spite of all disgust, vexations, dryness, and the lack of all sensible consolation. Another no less evident mark is the incapacity of our corrupt inclinations, subdued and controlled by reason, to interrupt us in the practice of virtue. For as these inclinations decrease, virtue gains strength, and takes deeper root in our souls. Wherefore, when we feel no repugnance on the part of the inferior appetites, we may be sure that we have acquired habitual virtue; and the greater our facility in given acts, the more perfect is the habit.
You are not to imagine, however, that you have arrived at an eminent degree of sanctity, or that your passions have been entirely subdued because for a long time you have not perceived any resistance in many trials; for frequently the enemy, and our own corrupt nature, disguise themselves for a time. And thus, through a secret pride, we take that for virtue which is actually the result of vice. Moreover, if you consider the degree of perfection to which God has called you, you will perceive your previous actions to be far short of that goal. Persevere, therefore, in your exercises, as if you had just begun, never permitting the diminution of your first fervor.Remember that it is infinitely better to advance in virtue than to be occupied in examining too closely the progress you have already made. For God, to Whom alone our hearts are known, reveals their secret to some, while He hides it from others, being mindful of particular susceptibilities to vanity or humility. Thus the Father, equally gracious and wise, takes from the weak what might occasion their ruin, and grants to the strong the means of advancing in virtue. And although unconscious of her progress, the soul must not abandon her exercises of devotion, as Almighty God will manifest that progress to her at a time when it will be most conducive to her greater welfare.