This diversity is due partly to nature and partly to grace.
We say that it is due partly to nature; for though grace is the principle of every spiritual being, yet it is shaped according to the condition of the soul in which it dwells, just as water takes the form of the vessel into which it is poured.
Thus, calm, peaceful temperaments are more naturally suited to a contemplative life; those of an ardent, energetic nature are better fitted for an active life; while persons of strong, robust health find more profit in a laborious life of penance.
Thus is the marvellous goodness of God made manifest. Desiring to communicate Himself to all, He has willed that the ways which lead to Him should be proportioned to the diversities in the characters and conditions of men.
Grace is the second cause of this variety which the Holy Spirit, the Author of all grace, has created for the greater beauty and perfection of His Church.
As the different senses and members are requisite for the beauty and perfection of the human body, so a diversity of graces is necessary for the complete harmony and beauty of the Church. If the faithful all practised the same virtues, how could they be called a body which necessarily consists of different members?
“If the whole body,” says the Apostle, “were the eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? And if they all were one member, where would be the body.” [1 Cor. xii. 17, 19.]
We find the same beautiful variety in the works of nature, where the Sovereign Creator wisely apportions all gifts or qualities so that the lack of one perfection is compensated by the possession of another.
The peacock, which has a most discordant note, possesses a beautiful plumage; the nightingale delights the ear, but has no charms for the eye; the horse bears us where we will and is valuable in camp and field, but is rarely used for food; the ox is useful for farm and table, but has scarcely any other qualities to recommend him; fruit-trees give us food, but have little value for building; forest-trees yield no fruit, but afford us the necessary material for erecting our dwellings.
Thus we do not find all qualities or all perfections united in one creature, but that variety among them which constitutes the beauty of nature and binds them to one another by a mutual and necessary dependence.