A Year with the Saints – 29 August


Another good method is to consider only the present day. One of the arts which the devil employs to ruin souls and to retard many in the service of God is to represent to them that it is a very difficult and insupportable thing to live for many years with so much exactness, circumspection and regularity. Now, to consider today only closes the path to this temptation, and at the same time lends much support to human weakness. For who is there that cannot for one day make a strong effort to do all he can, that his actions may be well performed? Let one say to himself in the morning, “This day I mean to perform my ordinary actions well.” So, that becomes easy and tolerable, which might appear very difficult if it were taken in a general way, and with the thought that this effort was to be made for a lifetime. Meanwhile, by proceeding every day in this manner, little by little a good habit is formed, and no further difficulty is experienced. – Saint Alphonsus Rodriguez

A certain monk is mentioned in the Lives of the Fathers, who even early in the morning suffered intolerably from hunger and weakness. In order not to transgress the holy custom of the monks, which forbade any food to be taken before three o’clock in the afternoon, he adopted the following device. In the morning he said to himself: “Hungry as you are, is it a great thing to wait until tierce?” At tierce he said, “Truly I must make some effort, and not eat until sext.” At sext he put the bread into the water, and said: “While the bread is soaking, I can wait till none; as I have waited so long, I do not mean, for the sake of two or three hours, to transgress the good custom of the monks.” When the hour of none arrived, he said his prayers, and took his breakfast. So he went on for some days, beguiling himself by these short periods of time, until one day when he was eating at the regular hour, he saw a smoke arise from the basket of bread, and go out of the window of his cell. This was, no doubt, the evil spirit that had tempted him. From that time forward, he no longer felt hungry as before, so that at times he remained entire days without food, and without feeling any need of it.

In the same book another monk is mentioned who was for some time tempted to leave his monastery. Every evening he would say to himself, “Tomorrow I will go”; and when morning came, he would say, “Now, for the love of God, I will stay one day more.” After continuing this practice for nine years, he was at last freed from the temptation.

MLA Citation