Annual Retreat Exercise #9: Consideration of the excellence of virtue

October 24, 2021 • 2 min

From Introduction to the Devout Life, page 275
By St. Francis de Sales


The second consideration: the excellence of virtue.

Consider that nothing but virtue and devotion can make your soul content in this world. Behold how beautiful they are, and draw a comparison between the virtues and their contrary vices.

What sweetness in patience, when compared with revenge? In meekness, compared with anger and vexation? In humility, compared with arrogance and ambition? In liberality, compared with covetousness. In charity, in comparison with envy? In sobriety, with revellings?

For virtues have this admirable quality, that they delight the soul with an incomparable sweetness and satisfaction after we have exercised them, whereas vices leave the soul exceedingly fatigued and disordered. Why then do we not endeavour to acquire this sweetness?

With respect to the vices, he that has but little of them is uneasy, and he that has much of them is more discontented; but as to the virtues, he that has but a little, has already some contentment, which increases as the virtues themselves increase.

O devout life! how fair, how lovely, how sweet and delightful art thou: thou dost alleviate our tribulations, and dost add sweetness to our consolations; without thee good is evil, and pleasures are full of restlessness, trouble. and deceit.

Ah! he that should know thee well might say, with the Samaritan woman: “Lord, give me this water!” an aspiration very frequently used by the holy mother Teresa, and St. Catherine of Genoa, although upon different occasions.

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