A Year with the Saints – 28 January


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 tranquility 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. Saint 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 Saint Francis de Sales was Scupoli; that of Saint Dominic, Cassian; the most frequent ejaculation of Saint Francis was, “My God is my all!” that of Saint Vincent de Paul, “In the name of the Lord!” that of Saint 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.

Saint 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.

MLA Citation