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Reflections: Catholic Life Section (Holiness/Virtue)

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Reflections: 

Catholic Life Section:

Holiness / Virtue

Wisdom of the Popes, Saints, Theologians, Other...

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Abstinence

Chastity

Constancy

Courage

Fasting

Forgiveness

Good Works

Hospitality

Humility

Learning / Holiness

Living Well

Meekness Towards Ourselves

Mortification

Patience

Penance

Perfect Life

Perseverance

Renouncing One's Self

Renouncing the World

Temperance

Virginity

Virtue

Also See...

Category
Quotation

Abstinence

"Total abstinence is easier than perfect moderation." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church)

"Fasts are not holy which proceed not on the principle of abstinence but with deceitful design." (Pope St. Leo the Great, Doctor of the Church)

"For right reason makes one abstain as one ought, i.e. with gladness of heart, and for the due end, i.e. for God's glory and not one's own." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Outward actions belong properly to the virtue to whose end they are specifically referred: thus fasting is referred specifically to the end of abstinence, which is to tame the flesh, and consequently it is an act of abstinence." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"But do not limit your plan of abstinence, dearly-beloved, to the mortifying of the body, or to the lessening of food alone. For the greater advantages of this virtue belong to that chastity of the soul, which not only crushes the lusts of the flesh, but also despises the vanities of worldly wisdom" (Pope St. Leo the Great, Doctor of the Church)

"But because the right practice of abstinence is needful not only to the mortification of the flesh but also to the purification of the mind, we desire your observance to be so complete that, as you cut down the pleasures that belong to the lusts of the flesh, so you should banish the errors that proceed from the imaginations of the heart." (Pope St. Leo the Great, Doctor of the Church)

"[I]n the consumption of food, the mean fixed by human reason, is that food should not harm the health of the body, nor hinder the use of reason: whereas, according to the Divine rule, it behooves man to 'chastise his body, and bring it into subjection' (1 Cor. 9:27), by abstinence in food, drink and the like." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"The body is chastised by means of abstinence, not only against the allurements of lust, but also against those of gluttony: since by abstaining a man gains strength for overcoming the onslaughts of gluttony, which increase in force the more he yields to them." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Properly speaking fasting consists in abstaining from food, but speaking metaphorically it denotes abstinence from anything harmful, and such especially is sin. We may also reply that even properly speaking fasting is abstinence from all manner of lust, since...an act ceases to be virtuous by the conjunction of any vice." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"In former days, when the people of the Hebrews and all the tribes of Israel were oppressed for their scandalous sins by the grievous tyranny of the Philistines, in order that they might be able to overcome their enemies, as the sacred story declares, they restored their powers of mind and body by the injunction of a fast. For they understood that they had deserved that hard and wretched subjection for their neglect of God's commands, and evil ways, and that it was in vain for them to strive with arms unless they had first withstood their sin. Therefore abstaining from food and drink, they applied the discipline of strict correction to themselves, and in order to conquer their foes, first conquered the allurements of the palate in themselves. And thus it came about that their fierce enemies and cruel taskmasters yielded to them when fasting, whom they had held in subjection when full. And so we too, dearly beloved, who are set in the midst of many oppositions and conflicts, may be cured by a little carefulness, if only we will use the same means. For our case is almost the same as theirs, seeing that, as they were attacked by foes in the flesh so are we chiefly by spiritual enemies. And if we can conquer them by God's grace enabling us to correct our ways, the strength of our bodily enemies also will give way before us, and by our self-amendment we shall weaken those who were rendered formidable to us, not by their own merits but by our shortcomings." (Pope St. Leo the Great, Doctor of the Church)

Also See: Fasting | Renouncing One's Self | Renouncing the World | Temperance | Gluttony | Fasting & Abstinence (Catholic Basics Reflections) | Fasting (Topical Scripture)  

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Chastity

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Constancy

"'A holy man continueth in wisdom, like the sun; but a fool is changing, like the moon' (Eccl. 27:12). Fools - that is, sinners - are changed like the moon, which increase today and grows less on tomorrow; today they are seen to laugh though folly, and tomorrow, to weep through despair; today they are humble and meek, tomorrow, proud and furious. In a word, sinners change with prosperity and adversity; but the just are like the sun, always the same, always serene in whatever happens to them. In the inferior part of the soul they cannot but feel some pain at the misfortunes which befall them; but, as long as the will remains united to the will of God, nothing can deprive them of that spiritual joy which is not subject to the vicissitudes of this life. 'Your joy no man shall take from you' (Jn. 26:22)." (St. Alphonsus Liguori, Doctor of the Church)

"Perseverance and constancy agree as to end, since it belongs to both to persist firmly in some good: but they differ as to those things which make it difficult to persist in good. Because the virtue of perseverance properly makes man persist firmly in good, against the difficulty that arises from the very continuance of the act: whereas constancy makes him persist firmly in good against difficulties arising from any other external hindrances. Hence perseverance takes precedence of constancy as a part of fortitude, because the difficulty arising from continuance of action is more intrinsic to the act of virtue than that which arises from external obstacles." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

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Courage

"I have told you this so that you might have peace in me. In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world." (Our Lord Jesus Christ, Jn. 16:33)

"Courage can be learned by following the example of Job. Here was a man who suffered a complete reversal of fate and, having once been rich and the father of numerous children, was reduced in a single moment to poverty and childlessness. And yet he managed to remain completely unchanged, never ceasing to attend to the well-being of his soul and even showing no anger toward those friends of his who had come to console him but who ended up by insulting him and merely increasing his afflictions." (St. Basil the Great, Doctor of the Church)

Also See: Life's Battle | Fear | The Cross / Crosses | Suffering | Trials & Tribulations | Fortitude / Courage (Topical Scripture)

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Fasting

Also See: Fasting (Topic Page)

"When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites. They neglect their appearance, so that they may appear to others to be fasting. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you may not appear to be fasting, except to your Father who is hidden. And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you." (Our Lord Jesus Christ, Mt. 6:16-18)

"Fasting is medicine." (St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church)

"Fasting is directed against concupiscence of the flesh, alms-deeds against concupiscence of the eyes, and prayer against pride of life, as Augustine says (Enarrationes in Psalmos 42)." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"To instruct thee how great a good is fasting, and how it is a most powerful shield against the devil; and that after baptism thou shouldst give thyself up, not to luxury, but to fasting; for this cause Christ fasted, not as needing it Himself, but as teaching us." (St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church) 

"Properly speaking fasting consists in abstaining from food, but speaking metaphorically it denotes abstinence from anything harmful, and such especially is sin. We may also reply that even properly speaking fasting is abstinence from all manner of lust, since...an act ceases to be virtuous by the conjunction of any vice." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"[F]asting is directed to two things, the deletion of sin, and the raising of the mind to heavenly things. Wherefore fasting ought to be appointed specially for those times, when it behooves man to be cleansed from sin, and the minds of the faithful to be raised to God by devotion: and these things are particularly requisite before the feast of Easter" (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"[F]asting is useful as atoning for and preventing sin, and as raising the mind to spiritual things. And everyone is bound by the natural dictate of reason to practice fasting as far as it is necessary for these purposes. Wherefore fasting in general is a matter of precept of the natural law, while the fixing of the time and manner of fasting as becoming and profitable to the Christian people, is a matter of precept of positive law established by ecclesiastical authority: the latter is the Church fast, the former is the fast prescribed by nature." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"It was becoming that Christ should wish to fast before His temptation. First, in order to give us an example. For since we are all in urgent need of strengthening ourselves against temptation... by fasting before being tempted, He teaches us the need of fasting in order to equip ourselves against temptation. Hence the Apostle (2 Cor. 6:5,7) reckons fastings together with the armor of justice. Secondly, in order to show that the devil assails with temptations even those who fast, as likewise those who are given to other good works. And so Christ's temptation took place after His fast, as also after His baptism." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"The holy season of Lent approaches, which is full of mysteries but not without mystery. It precedes that great celebration of Easter, by which alone the dignity of all other religious occasions is consecrated. Venerable Brothers, you should see that the faithful religiously observe this holy fast, which was recommended by the testimony of the laws and the prophets, consecrated by the Lord Jesus Christ, and handed on by the apostles. The Catholic Church has always preserved it so that by the mortification of the flesh and the humiliation of the spirit, we might be better prepared to approach the mysteries of the Lord's passion and the paschal sacraments. Likewise through fasting we might rise again in the resurrection of Him whose passion and death we joined after we put off the old man. Our predecessor Benedict XIV aroused you with two earlier briefs, that you might zealously preserve such a holy and salutary institution. Your work and zeal should recall the discipline of the Lenten fast, now weakened by many corruptions, to its original observance. For this reason, Pope Benedict XIV removed from your midst many quibblings which impaired fasting. However, as there are many persistent threats to the Lord's flock from the foul and dangerous enemy of the human race, we should be wary lest the sly old fox add new calculations and perverse customs to the minds of the weaker faithful. These things will weaken the strength of the fast and make it sink back to that point from which it was recently recalled. We think it is necessary to send you this letter to show your brotherhood how fearful We are that the old corruption might remain, or that a new stain might come upon ecclesiastic discipline in this matter, with the resulting destruction of the souls of the faithful...it perhaps remains for you to eradicate with God's help anything pertaining to the old or new corruption for breaking the laws of the fast, or the fabrications of opinions, or the customs which shy away from the true power and nature of the fast... You will begin most appropriately, and with hope of the greatest profit, to recall men to the observance of the holy law of fasting, if you teach the people this: penance for the Christian man is not satisfied by withdrawing from sin, by detesting a past life badly lived, or by the sacramental confession of these same sins. Rather, penance also demands that we satisfy divine justice with fasting, almsgiving, prayer, and other works of the spiritual life. Every wrongdoing - be it large or small - is fittingly punished, either by the penitent or by a vengeful God. Therefore we cannot avoid God's punishment in any other way than by punishing ourselves. If this teaching is constantly implanted in the minds of the faithful, and if they drink deeply of it, there will be very little cause to fear that those who have discarded their degraded habits and washed their sins clean through sacramental confession would not want to expiate the same sins through fasting, to eliminate the concupiscence of the flesh. Besides, consider the man who is convinced that he repents of his sins more firmly when he does not allow himself to go unpunished. That man, already consumed with the love of penance, will rejoice during the season of Lent and on certain other days, when the Church declares that the faithful should fast and gives them the opportunity to bring forth worthy fruits of penance. After all, it is always necessary to subdue concupiscence, for it is written, 'Do not follow behind your desires, and do not turn away from your will.' Let the faithful easily turn their attention during this most holy time of year to lessening the intemperance of the body by fasting. In this way the soul might understand how it should prepare itself to recall the holy mysteries of the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Therefore, those who are spurred on by penance do not seek the delicacies of the table, which seem indistinguishable from forbidden foods, even with abstinence. However, one can rightfully say that whoever sets them on his table does not so much put aside his customary delicacies as give his appetites over to unusual enticements. Finally, those spurred on by penance do not seek escapes by which they might withdraw from fasting, nor do they seek various subtleties to break ecclesiastical law." (Pope Clement XIII, "Appentente Sacro", On the Spiritual Advantages of Fasting, December 20, 1759)

Also See: Abstinence | Mortification | Renouncing One's Self | Renouncing the World | Temperance | Prayer & Fasting (Prayers & Devotions Reflections) | Fasting & Abstinence (Catholic Basics Reflections) | Fasting (Topical Scripture)

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Forgiveness

"If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions." (Our Lord Jesus Christ, Mt. 6:14-15)

"Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he wrongs you seven times in one day and returns to you seven times saying, 'I am sorry,' you should forgive him." (Our Lord Jesus Christ, Lk.17:3)

"But we ought to favor forgiving sin after repentance, lest while grudging pardon to another, we ourselves obtain it not from our Lord. Let us not envy those who return from a distant country, seeing that we ourselves also were afar off." (St. Ambrose, Doctor of the Church)

Also See: Love / Charity | Sin & Vice [Pg.] | Anger | Hatred | Our Father's Love (Reflections) | Sacrament of Penance (Reflections) | Mass / Holy Eucharist (Reflections) | Baptism (Reflections) | Sacraments Section | Forgiveness (Topical Scripture) | Penance / Confession (Topical Scripture) | Mercy (Topical Scripture)

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Good Works

"Do not be amazed at this, because the hour is coming in which all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and will come out, those who have done good deeds to the resurrection of life, but those who have done wicked deeds to the resurrection of condemnation." (Our Lord Jesus Christ, Jn. 5:29-5:28)

"By your stubbornness and impenitent heart, you are storing up wrath for yourself for the day of wrath and revelation of the just judgment of God, who will repay everyone according to his works: eternal life to those who seek glory, honor, and immortality through perseverance in good works, but wrath and fury to those who selfishly disobey the truth and obey wickedness." (St. Paul, Rom. 2:5-8)

"Tell them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous, ready to share, thus accumulating as treasure a good foundation for the future, so as to win the life that is true life." (St. Paul, 1 Tm. 6:18-19)

"I want you to insist on these points, that those who have believed in God be careful to devote themselves to good works; these are excellent and beneficial to others." (St. Paul, Ti. 3:8)

"But let our people, too, learn to devote themselves to good works to supply urgent needs, so that they may not be unproductive." (St. Paul, Ti. 3:14)

"We must consider how to rouse one another to love and good works." (St. Paul, Heb. 10:24)

"Maintain good conduct among the Gentiles, so that if they speak of you as evildoers, they may observe your good works and glorify God on the day of visitation." (St. Peter, 1 Pt. 2:12)

"For just as a body without a spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead." (Jms. 2:26)

"Next I saw a large white throne and the one who was sitting on it. The earth and the sky fled from his presence and there was no place for them. I saw the dead, the great and the lowly, standing before the throne, and scrolls were opened. Then another scroll was opened, the book of life. The dead were judged according to their deeds, by what was written in the scrolls. The sea gave up its dead; then Death and Hades gave up their dead. All the dead were judged according to their deeds. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the pool of fire. (This pool of fire is the second death.) Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the pool of fire." (Rv. 20:11-15)

"Those who do not labor in good works in this works will labor in evil ones in hell." (St. Vincent Ferrer)

"My child, we must not be afraid of doing good, even if it costs us something." (St. John Vianney)

"There is no great merit in doing good to one who is loving and grateful to us in return." (St. John Vianney)

"Christian belief, held in hatred by the world, is spread not only by persuasion but also by noble deeds." (St Ignatius of Antioch, 107 A.D.)

"Let us then follow gladly in the bloodstained footsteps of our King, for this is necessary to ensure our salvation: 'For if we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we shall be also in the likeness of His Resurrection.' and 'if we be dead with him, we shall live also with Him.' Also our zealous love for the Church demands it, and our brotherly love for the souls she brings forth to Christ. For although our Savior's cruel passion and death merited for His Church an infinite treasure of graces, God's inscrutable providence has decreed that these graces should not be granted to us all at once; but their greater or lesser abundance will depend in no small part on our own good works, which draw down on the souls of men a rain of heavenly gifts freely bestowed by God. These heavenly gifts will surely flow more abundantly if we not only pray fervently to God, especially by participating every day if possible in the Eucharistic Sacrifice; if we not only try to relieve the distress of the needy and of the sick by works of Christian charity, but if we also set our hearts on the good things of eternity rather than on the passing things of this world; if we restrain this mortal body by voluntary mortification, denying it what is forbidden, and by forcing it to do what is hard and distasteful; and finally, if we humbly accept as from God's hands the burdens and sorrows of this present life. Thus, according to the Apostle, 'we shall fill up those things that are wanting of the sufferings of Christ in our flesh for His Body, which is the Church.'" (Pope Pius XII, "Mystici Corporis Christi", 1943)

Also See: Love / Charity | Looking to the Good of Others | Give & Take (Reflections) | Volunteers' Corner (Reflections) | Deeds / Works (Topical Scripture) 

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Hospitality

"Contribute to the needs of the holy ones, exercise hospitality." (St. Paul, Rom. 12:13)

"Do not neglect hospitality, for through it some have unknowingly entertained angels." (St. Paul, Heb. 13:2)

"This is the law of hospitality - that the person who is welcomed makes the one who welcomes him like himself. This is what John the Evangelist indicated most clearly with respect to those who welcomed the Son of God when he said: 'But however many welcomed Him, to them He gave the power to become sons of God.' (Jn. 1:12)" (St. Maximus of Turin)

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Humility

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Learning / Holiness

"Of what use to me is all I learn in school if I do not become holy?" (St. Francis de Sales, Doctor of the Church)

Also See: Education [Pg.] | Increase Holiness Section (Reflections) | Catholic Book Review & Exchange Section (Reflections) | Knowledge (Topical Scripture) | Holiness (Topical Scripture)

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Living Well

"Living well is not only doing good things but doing them well, choosing them in a right way and not simply acting on impulse or emotion. Right choosing involves having a right goal and suitably acting to achieve that goal." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

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Meekness Towards Ourselves

"God wishes us to be meek even towards ourselves. When a person commits a fault, God certainly wishes him to humble himself, to be sorry for his sin, and to purpose never to fall into it again; but he does not wish him to be indignant with himself, and give way to trouble and agitation of mind; for while the soul is agitated, a man is incapable of doing good." (St. Alphonsus Liguori, Doctor of the Church)

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Mortification

"But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the desires of the flesh." (St. Paul, Rom. 13:14)

"I say, then: live by the Spirit and you will certainly not gratify the desire of the flesh." (St. Paul, Gal. 5:16)

"[I]t is to those who have endured voluntary sufferings in this life that the reward of virtue is vouchsafed" (Pope Leo XIII, "Octobri Mense", 1891)

"The more we indulge ourselves in soft living and pamper our bodies, the more rebellious they will become against the spirit." (St. Rita of Cascia)

"Man's path on earth is sacrifice. We cannot go out from evil except by the way of self-resistance, nor keep our footing on good ground but by constant combating." (Gueranger)

"It is also true that we should practice mortification in many things to make reparation for our sins. There is no doubt that the person who lives without mortifying himself is someone who will never succeed in saving his soul." (St. John Vianney)

"The road and ascent to God, then, necessarily demands a habitual effort to renounce and mortify the appetites; the sooner this mortification is achieved, the sooner the soul reaches the top. But until the appetites are eliminated, one will not arrive no matter how much virtue is practiced." (St. John of the Cross, Doctor of the Church)

"By the infinite goodness of God man lived again to the hope of an immortal life, from which he had been cut off, but he cannot attain to it if he strives not to walk in the very footsteps of Christ and conform his mind to Christ's by the meditation of Christ's example. Therefore this is not a counsel but a duty, and it is the duty, not of those only who desire a more perfect life, but clearly of every man 'always bearing about in our body the mortification of Jesus.'" (Pope Leo XIII, "Exeunte Iam Anno", 1888)

"Now the whole essence of a Christian life is to reject the corruption of the world and to oppose constantly any indulgence in it; this is taught in the words and deeds, the laws and institutions, the life and death of Jesus Christ, 'the author and finisher of faith.' Hence, however strongly We are deterred by the evil disposition of nature and character, it is our duty to run to the 'fight proposed to Us,' fortified and armed with the same desire and the same arms as He who, 'having joy set before him, endured the cross.' Wherefore let men understand this specially, that it is most contrary to Christian duty to follow, in worldly fashion, pleasures of every kind, to be afraid of the hardships attending a virtuous life, and to deny nothing to self that soothes and delights the senses. 'They that are Christ's, have crucified their flesh, with the vices and concupiscences' - so that it follows that they who are not accustomed to suffering, and who hold not ease and pleasure in contempt belong not to Christ." (Pope Leo XIII, "Exeunte Iam Anno", 1888)

Also See: Abstinence | Fasting | Penance | Renouncing One's Self | Renouncing the World | Mortification (Increase Holiness Reflections) | Mortification (Catholic Basics Reflections)

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Patience

"In contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control." (St. Paul, Gal. 5:22-23)

"I, then, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace" (St. Paul, Eph. 4:1-3)

"Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do." (St. Paul, Col. 3:12-13)

"But you, man of God, avoid all this. Instead, pursue righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience, and gentleness." (St. Paul, 1 Tm. 6:11)

"Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. You too must be patient. Make your hearts firm, because the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not complain, brothers, about one another, that you may not be judged. Behold, the Judge is standing before the gates. Take as an example of hardship and patience, brothers, the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Indeed we call blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of the perseverance of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, because 'the Lord is compassionate and merciful.'" (St. James, Jms. 5:7-11) 

"If any one, the more he is injured, displays the more patience, blessed is he." (St. Ignatius of Antioch)

"Bear with all men, even as our Lord beareth with thee. Show patience with all men " (St. Ignatius of Antioch)

"Let her follow the example set in Job of virtue and of patience." (St. Jerome, Doctor of the Church)

"For patience is shown by much time, not in two or three days." (St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church)

"For patience, which is necessary only where ills are to be borne, shall not be eternal, but that which patience leads us to will be eternal." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church)

"For patience knows how to smooth what is rough, and constancy to overcome fierceness" (Pope St. Gregory the Great, Doctor of the Church)

"[I]t is clearly impossible to have patience without the help of grace." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Patience is a perfect sacrifice that we can offer to God, because in our trials we do nothing but accept from His hands the cross that He sends us." (St. Alphonsus Liguori, Doctor of the Church)

"When you are excited to impatience, think for a moment how much more reason God has to be angry with you than you can have for anger against any human being; and yet how constant is His patience and forbearance." (St. Elizabeth Ann Seton)

"Patience is said to be the root and safeguard of all the virtues, not as though it caused and preserved them directly, but merely because it removes their obstacles." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"[A]cts of patience and fortitude are not meritorious unless a man does them out of charity, according to 1 Corinthians 13:3: 'If I should deliver my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.'" (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"There are two of the fruits which correspond sufficiently to the gift of fortitude: namely, patience, which regards the enduring of evils: and longanimity, which may regard the long delay and accomplishment of goods." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"For the very virtue of charity, which is the mother and guardian of all virtues, is lost through the vice of impatience. For it is written, Charity is patient (1 Cor. xiii. 4). Wherefore where patience is not, charity is not. Through this vice of impatience, too; instruction, the nurse of virtues, is dissipated. For it is written, The instruction of a man is known by his patience (Prov. xix. 1 1). Every man, then, is shewn to be by so much less instructed as he is convicted of being less patient. For neither can he truly impart what is good through instruction, if in his life he knows not how to bear what is evil in others with equanimity." (Pope St. Gregory the Great, Doctor of the Church)

"It is patience which both commends and keeps us to God. It is patience, too, which assuages anger, which bridles the tongue, governs the mind, guards peace, rules discipline, breaks the force of lust, represses the violence of pride, extinguishes the fire of enmity, checks the power of the rich, soothes the want of the poor, protects a blessed integrity in virgins, a careful purity in widows, in those who are united and married a single affection. It makes men humble in prosperity, brave in adversity, gentle towards wrongs and contempts. It teaches us quickly to pardon those who wrong us; and if you yourself do wrong, to entreat long and earnestly. It resists temptations, suffers persecutions, perfects passions and martyrdoms. It is patience which firmly fortifies the foundations of our faith. It is this which lifts up on high the increase of our hope. It is this which directs our doing, that we may hold fast the way of Christ while we walk by His patience. It is this that makes us to persevere as sons of God, while we imitate our Father's patience." (Cyprian of Carthage)

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Penance

"...for you diminish zeal for penance where it ought to be increased, since the mercy of Christ has taught us that graver sins must be made good by greater efforts." (St. Ambrose, Doctor of the Church)

"Penance opens the door to the other virtues, because it expels sin by the virtues of faith, hope and charity, which precede it in the order of nature; yet it so opens the door to them that they enter at the same time as it: because, in the justification of the ungodly, at the same time as the free-will is moved towards God and against sin, the sin is pardoned and grace infused, and with grace all the virtues" (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Although penance is directly a species of justice, yet, in a fashion, it comprises things pertaining to all the virtues; for inasmuch as there is a justice of man towards God, it must have a share in matter pertaining to the theological virtues, the object of which is God. Consequently penance comprises faith in Christ's Passion, whereby we are cleansed of our sins, hope for pardon, and hatred of vice, which pertains to charity." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"We can speak of penance in two ways: first, in so far as it is a passion, and thus, since it is a kind of sorrow, it is in the concupiscible part as its subject; secondly, in so far as it is a virtue, and thus...it is a species of justice. Now justice...is subjected in the rational appetite which is the will. Therefore it is evident that penance, in so far as it is a virtue, is subjected in the will, and its proper act is the purpose of amending what was committed against God." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Penance then is, as it were, a salutary weapon placed in the hands of the valiant soldiers of Christ, who wish to fight for the defense and restoration of the moral order in the universe. It is a weapon that strikes right at the root of all evil, that is at the lust of material wealth and the wanton pleasures of life. By means of voluntary sacrifices, by means of practical and even painful acts of self-denial, by means of various works of penance, the noble-hearted Christian subdues the base passions that tend to make him violate the moral order. But if zeal for the divine law and brotherly love are as great in him as they should be, then not only does he practice penance for himself and his own sins, but he takes upon himself the expiation of the sins of others, imitating the Saints who often heroically made themselves victims of reparation for the sins of whole generations, imitating even the divine Redeemer, who became the Lamb of God 'who taketh away the sins of the world' (lo. i. 29)." (Pope Pius XI, "Caritate Christi Compulsi", 1932)

"Certainly We know, and with you, Venerable Brethren, We deplore the fact that in our day the idea and the name of expiation and penance have with many lost in great part the power of rousing enthusiasm of heart and heroism of sacrifice. In other times they were able to inspire such feelings, for they appeared in the eyes of men of faith as sealed with a divine mark in likeness of Christ and His Saints: but nowadays there are some who would put aside external mortifications as things of the past; without mentioning the modern exponent of liberty, the 'autonomous man' as he is called, who despises penance as bearing the mark of servitude. As a fact the notion of the need of penance and expiation is lost in proportion as belief in God is weakened, and the idea of an original sin and of a first rebellion of man against God becomes confused and disappears. But We, on the other hand, Venerable Brethren, in virtue of Our pastoral office, must bear aloft these names and these ideas, and preserve them in their true meaning, in their genuine dignity, and still more in their practical and necessary application to Christian life. To this We are urged by the very defense of God and Religion, which We sustain, since penance is of its nature a recognition and a re-establishment of the moral order in the world which is founded on the eternal law, that is on the living God. He who makes satisfaction to God for sin, recognizes thereby the sanctity of the highest principles of morality, their internal binding power, the need of a sanction against their violation." (Pope Pius XI, "Caritate Christi Compulsi", 1932)

Also See: Sin & Vice [Pg.] | Confession / Penance (Reflections) | Sacraments Section | Sacrament of Penance (Topical Scripture)

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Perfect Life

"A perfect life is an imitation of death." (Pope St. Gregory the Great, Doctor of the Church)

Also See: Perfection (Increase Holiness Reflections) | Perfection (Topical Scripture)

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Perseverance

"But the one who perseveres to the end will be saved." (Our Lord Jesus Christ, Mt. 24:13)

"You will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who perseveres to the end will be saved." (Our Lord Jesus Christ, Mk. 13:13)

"By your perseverance you will secure your lives." (Our Lord Jesus Christ, Lk. 21:19)

"But as for the seed that fell on rich soil, they are the ones who, when they have heard the word, embrace it with a generous and good heart, and bear fruit through perseverance." (Our Lord Jesus Christ, Lk. 8:15)

"And you who once were alienated and hostile in mind because of evil deeds he has now reconciled in his fleshly body through his death, to present you holy, without blemish, and irreproachable before him, provided that you persevere in the faith, firmly grounded, stable, and not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard" (Col. 1:21-23)

"This saying is trustworthy: If we have died with him we shall also live with him; if we persevere we shall also reign with him. But if we deny him he will deny us." (2 Tm. 2:11-12)

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith. For the sake of the joy that lay before him he endured the cross, despising its shame, and has taken his seat at the right of the throne of God." (Heb. 12:1-2)

"Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. And let perseverance be perfect, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." (Jms. 1:2-4)

"Blessed is the man who perseveres in temptation, for when he has been proved he will receive the crown of life that he promised to those who love him." (Jms. 1:12)

"Indeed we call blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of the perseverance of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, because "the Lord is compassionate and merciful." (Jms. 5:11)

"So great a good is perseverance and endurance." (St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church)

"[N]one but God gives that perseverance to those who have persevered" (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church)

"But since no one has perseverance to the end except he who does persevere to the end, many people may have it, but none can lose it." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church)

"Let not men say, then, that perseverance is given to any one to the end, except when the end itself has come, and he to whom it has been given has been found to have persevered unto the end." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church)

"Finally, to conclude with the words of St. Bernard, 'What now remaineth, my dearest, but that you be warned of perseverance, which alone ensures renown to man, and reward to his virtues? For without perseverance, neither does the champion obtain the conquest, nor the conqueror his crown... Take away perseverance, and no service hath any value; no good turn any thanks; no prowess any praise. In fine, not he who beginneth, but he who persevereth unto the end, shall be saved.'" (St. Robert Southwell)

"We impetrate in prayer things that we do not merit, since God hears sinners who beseech the pardon of their sins, which they do not merit, as appears from Augustine (Tractatus 44 in Joannis) on John 11:31, 'Now we know that God doth not hear sinners,' otherwise it would have been useless for the publican to say: 'O God, be merciful to me a sinner'" Luke 18:13. So too may we impetrate of God in prayer the grace of perseverance either for ourselves or for others, although it does not fall under merit." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Perseverance is taken in three ways. First, to signify a habit of the mind whereby a man stands steadfastly, lest he be moved by the assault of sadness from what is virtuous. And thus perseverance is to sadness as continence is to concupiscence and pleasure, as the Philosopher says (Ethica Nicomachea vii,7). Secondly, perseverance may be called a habit, whereby a man has the purpose of persevering in good unto the end. And in both these ways perseverance is infused together with grace, even as continence and the other virtues are. Thirdly, perseverance is called the abiding in good to the end of life. And in order to have this perseverance man does not, indeed, need another habitual grace, but he needs the Divine assistance guiding and guarding him against the attacks of the passions, as appears from the preceding article. And hence after anyone has been justified by grace, he still needs to beseech God for the aforesaid gift of perseverance, that he may be kept from evil till the end of his life. For to many grace is given to whom perseverance in grace is not given." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

Also See: No One Can Be Certain That He Will Be Saved (Coming Home Reflections) | Perseverance (Increase Holiness Reflections) | How One Dies is How One Remains Forever

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Renouncing One's Self

"Then Jesus said to his disciples, 'Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.'" (Mt. 16:24)

"[Jesus] summoned the crowd with his disciples and said to them, 'Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.'" (Mk. 8:34)

"Then [Jesus] said to all, 'If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.'" (Lk. 9:23)

"[D]eny thyself first and before everything" (St. Bernard)

"The sacrifice the good Lord wants of us is to die to ourselves." (St. Charles of Sezze)

"Lose yourself wholly; and the more you lose, the more you will find." (St. Catherine of Siena, Doctor of the Church)

"A Christian either rules his inclinations, or his inclinations rule him." (St. John Vianney)

"God does not require of us the martyrdom of the body; he requires only the martyrdom of the heart, and the will." (St. John Vianney)

"The merit of renouncing one's own will is invariably greater and more precious than getting one's own way." (Bl. John Ruysbroeck)

"We have nothing of our own but our will. It is the only thing which God has so placed in our own power that we can make an offering of it to him." (St. John Vianney)

"Let each one remember that he will make progress in all spiritual things only insofar as he rids himself of self-love, self-will, and self-interest." (St. Ignatius Loyola)

"Every time we are able to give up our own wishes in favor of those of other people, so long as it is not contrary to the will of God, we acquire great merit." (St. John Vianney)

"We cannot belong to ourselves; we must belong to God or to our passions. We have only the one choice of the one yoke or the other. Which appears the most honorable?" (St. Ignatius Loyola)

"For concupiscence always gives birth to sin (see Jms. 1:15), and the man who follows his own will is like the one who follows the will of his enemy (see Eccl. 18:31)." (St. Ammonas the Hermit)

"The life of a faithful Christian, like that of the patriarch Abraham, is neither more nor less than a courageous journeying onwards to the place destined for him by his Creator. He must put aside everything that could impede his progress, nor must he look back. This is, undoubtedly, hard doctrine; but if we reflect, for a moment, on the dangers which surround fallen man during his earthly pilgrimage, and on what our own sad experience has taught us, we shall not think it hard or strange, that our Savior has made the renouncing and denying of ourselves an essential condition of our salvation. But independently of this, is it not far better to put our life under God's guidance, than to keep it on our own? Are we so wise or so strong, as to be able to guide ourselves? We may resist as we please, but God is our sovereign Lord and Master; and by giving us free-will, whereby we may either resist His will or follow it, He has not abdicated His own infinite rights in His creatures' obedience. Our refusal to obey would not make Him less our Master." (Gueranger)

Also See: Mortification | Renouncing the World

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Renouncing the World

"If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you." (Our Lord Jesus Christ, Jn. 15:19)

"Do you not know that to be a lover of the world means enmity with God? Therefore, whoever wants to be a lover of the world makes himself an enemy of God." (Jms. 4:4)

"Do not love the world or the things of the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him." (1 Jn. 2:15)

"The world considers us fools; we must consider it crazy." (St. Francis de Sales, Doctor of the Church)

"Do not have Jesus Christ on your lips and the world in your hearts." (St. Ignatius of Antioch, 107 A.D.)

"This world and the world to come are two enemies. We cannot therefore be friends to both; but we must decide which we will forsake and which we will enjoy." (Pope St. Clement I)

"But there is a difference between renouncing all things and leaving all things. For it is the way of few perfect men to leave all things, that is, to cast behind them the cares of the world, but it is the part of all the faithful to renounce all things, that is, so to hold the things of the world as by them not to be held in the world." (St. Bede the Venerable, Doctor of the Church)

"[T]he whole essence of a Christian life is to reject the corruption of the world and to oppose constantly any indulgence in it; this is taught in the words and deeds, the laws and institutions, the life and death of Jesus Christ, 'the author and finisher of faith'." (Pope Leo XIII, "Exeunte Iam Anno", 1888)

"The fundamental rule of Christian life is, as almost every page of the Gospel tells us, that we should live out of the world, separate ourselves from the world, hate the world. The world is that ungodly land which Abraham, our sublime model, is commanded by God to quit. It is that Babylon of our exile and captivity, where we are beset with dangers. The beloved disciple cries out to us: 'Love not the world, nor the things which are in the world. If any man love the world, the charity of the Father is not in him.' Our most merciful Jesus, at the very time when He was about to offer Himself as a sacrifice for all men, spoke these awful words: 'I pray not for the world.' When we were baptized, and were signed with the glorious and indelible character of Christians, the condition required of us, and accepted, was that we should renounce the works and pomps of the world (which we expressed under the name of Satan); and this solemn baptismal promise we have often renewed." (Gueranger)

"A man may be in the world in two ways: in one way by his bodily presence, in another way by the bent of his mind. Hence our Lord said to His disciples (John 15:19): 'I have chosen you out of the world,' and yet speaking of them to His Father He said (John 17:11): 'These are in the world, and I come to Thee.' Although, then, religious who are occupied with the works of the active life are in the world as to the presence of the body, they are not in the world as regards their bent of mind, because they are occupied with external things, not as seeking anything of the world, but merely for the sake of serving God: for 'they...use this world, as if they used it not,' to quote 1 Corinthians 7:31. Hence after it is stated that 'religion clean and undefiled...is... to visit the fatherless and widows in their tribulation,' (James 1:27) it is added, 'and to keep one's self unspotted from this world,' namely to avoid being attached to worldly things." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

Also See: Renouncing One's Self

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Temperance

"For this is temperance, to be drawn aside by no passion." (St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church)

"It is requisite that we should always rule our appetite and practice temperance both in the quantity of nourishment and the manner of taking it." (St. Ignatius Loyola)

"A wondrous thing is temperance, and fewness of wants, and freedom from the dominion of pleasures, and from the bondage of that cruel and degrading mistress, the belly." (Gregory Nazienzen, Doctor of the Church)

"In order to know that it is a good thing to exercise temperance, we need no words, nor instruction; for we ourselves have the knowledge of it in our nature, and there is no necessity for labor or fatigue in going about and enquiring whether temperance is good and profitable; but we all acknowledge this with one consent, and no man is in doubt as to this virtue." (St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church)

"Your God is gentle and mild. He does not command that while you are a pilgrim on earth you must utterly forgo creaturely consolations; indeed, he created all things to serve you. But he did command that you use them with moderation, sobriety, and temperance, that you share them cheerfully with the needy, that your possessions not be your master but you theirs, and that you use them to obtain God." (St. Robert Bellarmine, Doctor of the Church)

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Virginity

"Virginity can be lost even by a thought." (St. Jerome, Doctor of the Church, 5th century A.D.)

"I will say it boldly, though God can do all things, He cannot raise a virgin up after she has fallen." (St. Jerome, Doctor of the Church, 5th century A.D.)

"Virginity is said to be an angelic life, in so far as virgins imitate by grace what angels have by nature." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"The more exactly we understand the riches of virginity, the more we must bewail the other life; for we realize by this contrast with better things, how poor it is. I do not speak only of the future rewards in store for those who have lived thus excellently, but those rewards also which they have while alive here; for if any one would make up his mind to measure exactly the difference between the two courses, he would find it well-nigh as great as that between heaven and earth. The truth of this statement may be known by looking at actual facts." (St. Gregory of Nyssa)

"Virginity brings us nearer to God. It seeks for a model in God Himself, says St. Ambrose, for the eternal Father is virgin and Father. God, also wishing to become Incarnate, willed that He should be born of a virgin. God has also an extraordinary love and tenderness for pure souls; it is to these, in particular, that He confers or reveals His secrets, or on whom He deigns to bestow His favors. Jesus Christ bestowed many graces on Peter on account of his zeal; but it was the virgin St. John who was permitted to lean on the breast and heart of Jesus; it was he who had the privilege of entering His divine sanctuary, and it was he from whom He hid none of His most important secrets. Confessors, martyrs, and apostles have great privileges; but it appears that to virgins only He has entrusted the privilege of following the Lamb (Rev. 14:4)... Virginity is that precious treasure to guard which so many generous souls have sacrificed their lives. The preservation of this treasure is difficult, but the loss of it is irreparable; one may recover grace when lost by sin, but virginity once lost can never be restored." (St. Astere)

"Now our discourse addresses itself to the virgins, who, as they are the objects of higher honor, are also the objects of greater care. These are the flowers on the tree of the Church, the glory and ornament of spiritual grace, the joy of honor and praise, a work unbroken and unblemished, the image of God answering to the holiness of the Lord, the brighter portion of the flock of Christ. The glorious fruitfulness of their mother the Church rejoices in them, and in them flourishes more abundantly; and in proportion as bright virginity adds to her numbers, in the same proportion does the mother's joy increase. And at another place in the end of the epistle 'As we have borne,' he says, 'the image of the earthly, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.' Virginity bears this image, integrity bears it, holiness and truth bear it; they bear it who are mindful of the chastening of the Lord, who observe justice and piety, who are strong in faith, humble in fear, steadfast in the endurance of suffering, meek in the endurance of injury, ready to pity, of one mind and of one heart in brotherly peace. and every one of these things ought ye, holy virgins, to observe, to cherish, and fulfill, who having hearts at leisure for God and for Christ, and having chosen the greater and better part, lead and point the way to the Lord...encourage your equals; stir up one another by mutual exhortations; provoke one another to glory by emulous examples of virtue; endure bravely, advance in spirituality, finish your course with joy; only be mindful of us when your virginity shall begin to reap its reward of honor." (St. Cyprian)

"The holy look of virginity is precious indeed in the judgment of all who make purity the test of beauty; but it belongs to those alone whose struggles to gain this object of a noble love are favored and helped by the grace of God. Its praise is heard at once in the very name which goes with it; 'Uncorrupted' is the word commonly said of it, and this shows the kind of purity that is in it; thus we can measure by its equivalent term the height of this gift, seeing that amongst the many results of virtuous endeavor this alone has been honored with the title of the thing that is uncorrupted. And if we must extol with laudations this gift from the great God, the words of His Apostle are sufficient in its praise; they are few, but they throw into the background all extravagant laudations; he only styles as 'holy and without blemish' her who has this grace for her ornament. Now if the achievement of this saintly virtue consists in making one 'without blemish and holy,' and these epithets are adopted in their first and fullest force to glorify the incorruptible Deity, what greater praise of virginity can there be than thus to be shown in a manner deifying those who share in her pure mysteries, so that they become partakers of His glory Who is in actual truth the only Holy and Blameless One; their purity and their incorruptibility being the means of bringing them into relationship with Him? Many who write lengthy laudations in detailed treatises, with the view of adding something to the wonder of this grace, unconsciously defeat, in my opinion, their own end; the fulsome manner in which they amplify their subject brings its credit into suspicion. Nature's greatnesses have their own way of striking with admiration; they do not need the pleading of words: the sky, for instance, or the sun, or any other wonder of the universe. In the business of this lower world words certainly act as a basement, and the skill of praise does impart a look of magnificence; so much so, that mankind are apt to suspect as the result of mere art the wonder produced by panegyric. So the one sufficient way of praising virginity will be to show that that virtue is above praise, and to evince our admiration of it by our lives rather than by our words. A man who takes this theme for ambitious praise has the appearance of supposing that one drop of his own perspiration will make an appreciable increase of the boundless ocean, if indeed he believes, as he does, that any human words can give more dignity to so rare a grace; he must be ignorant either of his own powers or of that which he attempts to praise." (St. Gregory of Nyssa)

Also See: Marriage Not Equal to Virginity | Chastity | Modesty/Proper Dress [Pg.] | Pleasure is Momentary | Fornication | Celibacy / Chastity / Virgin (Topical Scripture) | The Blessed Virgin Mary (Mary, Our Mother Section) | Priests & Vocations Section

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Virtue

"Virtue demands courage, constant effort, and, above all, help from on high." (St. John Vianney)

"Unless you strive after virtues and practice them, you'll never grow to be more than dwarfs." (St. Teresa of Avila, Doctor of the Church)

"No wickedness, no heresy, not even the Devil himself can deceive anyone without counterfeiting virtue." (St. Dorotheus of Gaza)

"[A] wicked deed draws an overflowing house, a virtuous speech finds scarce a hearer, as though purity were to be blushed at, impurity boasted of. Where else can such confusion reign, but in devils' temples?" (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church)

"Catholic morality is never limited to teaching about avoiding sin. It also deals with growth in the Christian virtues and developing the capacity for self-giving in the vocation of one's own life." (Pontifical Council for the Family)

"Certain virtues are greatly esteemed and always preferred by the general run of men because they are close at hand, easily noticed, and in effect material. Thus many people prefer bodily to spiritual alms; hairshirts, fasting, going barefoot, using the discipline, and physical mortifications to meekness, patience, modesty, and other mortifications of the heart, although the latter are really higher virtues." (St. Francis de Sales, Doctor of the Church)

"They tell us too, those who have investigated the subject, that the virtues are not disunited from each other, and that to grasp the principle of any one virtue will be impossible to one who has not seized that which underlies the rest, and that the man who shows one virtue in his character will necessarily show them all. Therefore, by contraries, the depravation of anything in our moral nature will extend to the whole virtuous life; and in very truth, as the Apostle tells us, the whole is affected by the parts, and 'if one member suffer, all the members suffer with it,' 'if one be honored, all rejoice.'" (St. Gregory of Nyssa)

Also See: Increase Holiness Section (Reflections)

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Spiritual Growth (Topic Page)

Modesty / Proper Dress (Reflections)

Obedience / Disobedience (Reflections)

Increase Holiness Section

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