We must accept opportunities to practice virtues

August 8, 2021 • 2 min

From The Spiritual Combat, page 140

We have already shewn, that in the way to perfection, we must continually advance without making the least stop. Watch, therefore, over yourself, that no opportunity of acquiring any virtue be ever neglected. Be careful never to avoid, as many do, what is contrary to the vitiated affections of nature, since it is by struggling with them that we attain the most heroic virtues.

Would you (to continue the same example) attain the virtue of patience—never avoid the persons, the business, not even the thoughts from whence you have experienced much impatience; but rather accustom yourself to converse with those who are most disagreeable to you. Be always willing to undergo everything that is irksome. There is no other method of acquiring habitual patience.

If any employment gives you uneasiness, either from its own nature, from those who impose it, or because it takes you from something else more agreeable to your inclinations, be sure not to throw it up on any of these accounts; shew your courage not only in cheerfully accepting of it, but in persevering, whatever vexation arises from it, or satisfaction may be found in quitting it. Otherwise you will never learn to suffer, or enjoy that true peace which souls, divested of all passions, and adorned with every virtue, find in themselves.

The same is to be said of any thoughts which are very irksome. For you gain no advantage in being entirely freed from them, because the uneasiness they create, will inure you to bear the most vexatious incidents. Be assured, therefore, whoever teaches you a contrary method, shews you indeed how to avoid the trouble you dread, but not how to attain the virtue you really want.

The truth is, a new soldier, who wants experience, must be very discreet and cautious, sometimes attacking the enemy, at other times remaining on the defensive, as he finds his strength and courage will best bear; but must never think of turning his back, or leaving the fight, by shunning every occasion of trouble and vexation: Such behaviour indeed will remove the immediate occasion of impatience, but will leave you more than ever exposed to its assaults, for want of habitual patience.

What has been here alleged does not regard the vice of impurity, which, as before observed, can only be subdued by flight.

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