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Reflections: Increase Holiness Section

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Incr. Holiness | Home | Daily Digest | Reflections: A-Z | Categorized

Reflections: 

  'Increase Holiness' Section

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

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All Are Called to Holiness

Consolations / Lack Thereof

Daily Progress in Virtue

Detachment

Go Forward or You'll Go Backward

Handling the Disagreeable

Holiness & Prayer

Holiness & Salvation

Holiness Can Be Lost

Holiness in Everyday Life

Holiness in Stages

Holiness is not Earned

Holiness Tips

Holiness Tips from the Saints

Humility

Knowledge vs. Virtue

Making Choices / Using Christ as a Guide

Mortification

Necessary Ingredients of Holiness

Our Efforts are Necessary for Holiness / Salvation

Our Wills / Self-Surrender

Perfection

Perseverance

Proof of Holiness

Remaining Quiet / Discreet

Roadblocks in the Spiritual Life

Spiritual Direction

Spiritual Exercises

Spiritual Reading

Tribulations / Temptations

Warning Concerning Spiritualities Which Alienate People From the Church

Misc.

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Category
Quotation

All Are Called to Holiness

Also See: Spiritual Growth (Topic Page)

"[H]oliness of life is not the privilege of a select few. All are called by God to a state of sanctity and all are obliged to try to attain it." (Pope Pius XI, "Rerum Omnium Perturbationem", 1923)

"All of us can attain to Christian virtue and holiness, no matter in what condition of life we live and no matter what our life work may be." (St. Francis de Sales, Doctor of the Church)

"[A]ll are called to holiness" (The Pontifical Council for the Family, 2000)

"God always gives sufficient grace to whoever is willing to receive it. This is an established truth and all theologians are in agreement with it." (St. Francis de Sales, Doctor of the Church)

"[T]he acquisition of virtue, although it cannot be done without much labor (such labor has its own compensations, the spiritual consolations and joys which always accompany it) it is possible for everyone with the aid of God's grace, which is never denied us." (Pope Pius XI, "Rerum Omnium Perturbationem", 1923)0

"God calls everyone to holiness. He has very precise plans for each person, a personal vocation which each must recognize, accept and develop." (The Pontifical Council for the Family, 1995)

"Can. 210 All Christ's faithful, each according to his or her own condition, must make a wholehearted effort to lead a holy life, and to promote the growth of the Church and its continual sanctification." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"The law of holiness embraces all men and admits of no exception. The great number of souls of every condition in life, both young and old, who as history informs us have reached the zenith of Christian perfection, these saints felt in themselves the weaknesses of human nature and had to conquer the selfsame temptations as we. So true is this that as St. Augustine has so beautifully written, 'God does not ask the impossible of us. But when He does order us to do something He, by His very commands, admonishes us to do that which we are able to do and to ask from Him for assistance in that which we are not of ourselves able to do.' ('de Natura et Gratia,' Chap. 43, No. 50.)." (Pope Pius XI, "Rerum Omnium Perturbationem", 1923)

Also See: Topical Scripture (Holiness) | Sacraments | Prayers & Devotions | Catholic Basics | Catholic Life | Feed Your Faith

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Consolations / Lack Thereof

"When one has no consolations, one serves God for Himself alone; but when one has them one is liable to serve Him out of love for self." (St. John Vianney)

"Perfection does not consist in experiencing consolation. It consists in surrendering one's will to God's will, whether this be burdensome or easy." (Bl. Henry Suso)

"One single act done with aridity of spirit is worth more than many done with feelings of devotion." (St. Francis de Sales, Doctor of the Church)

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Daily Progress in Virtue

Also See: Spiritual Growth (Topic Page)

"We ought to make some progress, however little, every day, and show some increase of fervor. We ought to act as if we were at war - as, indeed, we are - and never relax until we have won the victory." (St. Teresa of Avila, Doctor of the Church)

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Detachment

"Detachment is the secret of perseverance." (Bl. Sebastian Valfre)

"You ask me to what you must avoid becoming attached: You must be attached to nothing, neither fortune, nor relations, nor directors, nor interior consolation; there must be nothing in the world which we are not ready to forgo without trouble if God asks it of us." (St. Claude de la Colombiere)

"A soul makes room for God by wiping away all the smudges and smears of creatures, by uniting its will perfectly to God's; for to love is to labor to divest and deprive oneself for God of all that is not God. When this is done the soul will be illuminated by and transformed in God." (St. John of the Cross, Doctor of the Church)

"The unitive way is possible in every state of life; only, there must be one condition observed, and that is, the soul must be detached from every tie that could keep her from going to God. The religious breaks these ties by his three vows, which are in direct opposition to the triple concupiscence of fallen nature; the layman, who, though he is living the world, desires to be what his Creator would have him be, must, without the aid of the real separation which the religious makes, be quite as completely detached from his own will, and sensuality, and riches, in order that all his intentions and aspirations may be fixed on the eternal home, where his one infinite, loved treasure his. If he does not bring himself, even in the midst of his riches, to be as poor in spirit as the religious is in deed, his progress will be checked at the very first step he takes in the contemplative life; and, if he allow the obstacle to block up the way, he must give up all idea of rising, in light and love, above the lowly paths of the majority of Christians." (Liturgical Year)

Also See: Our Wills / Self-Surrender

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Go Forward or You'll Go Backward 

Also See: Spiritual Growth (Topic Page)

"In the spiritual life, whoever doesn't go forward goes backward. It's the same as with a boat that must always go forward. If it stands still, the wind will blow it back." (St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina)

"I earnestly pray you not to forget your own progress in virtue: for you are well aware that one who does not make progress in virtue, goes backwards." (St. Francis Xavier)

"There are no plains in the spiritual life; we are either going uphill or coming down." (Bishop Fulton Sheen)

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Handling the Disagreeable

"When we must do something we dislike, let us say to God: 'My God, I offer You this in honor of the moment when You died for me.'" (St. John Vianney)

"When anything disagreeable and displeasing happens to you, remember Christ crucified and be silent." (St. John of the Cross, Doctor of the Church)

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Holiness & Prayer

Also See: Catholic Prayers (Topic Page)

"There is, in fact, such a necessary link between holiness and prayer that the one cannot exist without the other." (Pope St. Pius X, "Haerent Animo", 1908)

"It is morally impossible for him who neglects mediation to live without sin." (St. Teresa of Avila, Doctor of the Church)

"Since, as everyone realizes, holiness of life is the fruit of the exercise of the will inasmuch as it is strengthened by the aid of divine grace, God has made abundant provision lest we should at any time lack the gift of grace, if we desire it. We can obtain it, in the first place, by constant prayer." (Pope St. Pius X, "Haerent Animo", 1908)

"And by experience we see that many persons who recite a great number of vocal prayers, the Office and the Rosary, fall into sin, and continue to live in sin. But he who attends to mental prayer scarcely ever falls into sin, an should he have the misfortune of falling into it, he will hardly continue to live in so miserable a state; he will either give up mental prayer, or renounce sin. Meditation and sin cannot stand together. However abandoned a soul may be, if she perseveres in meditation, God will bring her to salvation." (St. Alphonsus, Doctor of the Church)

Also See: Topical Scripture (Holiness) | Prayers & Devotions | Prayer Requests | Catholic Basics | Catholic Life | Feed Your Faith

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Holiness & Salvation

Also See: Heaven / Salvation (Topic Page)

"Holiness is the cause of salvation." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

Also See: Topical Scripture (Holiness) | Sacraments | Prayers & Devotions | Catholic Basics | Feed Your Faith

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Holiness Can Be Lost

"Holiness once possessed can be lost." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")  

Also See: Topical Scripture (Holiness) | Sacraments | Prayers & Devotions | Catholic Basics | Coming Home

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Holiness in Everyday Life

Also See: Spiritual Growth (Topic Page)

"Our Lord has created persons for all states in life, and in all of them we see people who have achieved sanctity by fulfilling their obligations well." (St. Anthony Mary Claret)

"Live a holy life and you will be praising God with your whole life." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church)

"Do not forget that holiness consists not in extraordinary actions, but in performing your duties towards God, yourself and others well." (St. Maximilian Kolbe)

"God has not placed perfection in the multiplicity of acts we perform to please him, but only in the way we perform them, which is simply to do the little we do according to our vocation, in love, by love, and for love." (St. Francis de Sales, Doctor of the Church)

"[I]f we are not called to an extraordinary personal perfection, nevertheless we can attain holiness by sanctifying the actions of everyday life." (Pope Pius XI, "Rerum Omnium Perturbationem", 1923)

Also See: Catholic Life

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Holiness in Stages

Also See: Spiritual Growth (Topic Page)

"No one comes suddenly to the summit; but he must make a beginning of a good life in the smallest matters, so as to accomplish great things." (Pope St. Gregory the Great, Doctor of the Church)

"He only ought to seek for a higher righteousness who has fulfilled the lower." (Psuedo-Chrys, as quoted by St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church)

"For he seeks a fall who aspires to mount to the summit by overpassing the steps." (Pope St. Gregory the Great, Doctor of the Church)

"[I]t is evident that no one comes to the summit suddenly, since every man that lives aright, progresses during the whole course of his life, so as to arrive at the summit." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"I would say that the exercise of piety is rather like a ladder, that ladder which once was seen by the Blessed Jacob, of which one end was near the earth and reached to the ground, while the other end extended above and reached to heaven itself. What is necessary is that those who are being introduced to the virtuous life should put their feet on the first steps and from there mount ever higher to the next, until at last they have ascended by degrees to such heights as are attainable by human nature." (St. Basil the Great, Doctor of the Church, circa 363 A.D.)

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Holiness is not Earned

Also See: Spiritual Growth (Topic Page)

"Those who imagine they can attain to holiness by any wisdom or strength of their own will find themselves after many labors, and struggles, and weary efforts, only the farther from possessing it, and this in proportion to their certainty that they themselves have gained it." (St. John of Avila)

"People are terribly blind and want to do great feats, undertake something as though they wanted to take God by storm, doing everything themselves according to their own will and self-confident in their own nature. No, not by fighting but by abandoning, by dying, by decreasing and abandoning! As long as there is a drop of blood in you that is unmortified and unconquered, you are imperfect." (Bl. Henry Suso)

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

"No man has faith who does not believe that he has received his being from God; neither has he faith, who thinks that any other than the Almighty can give him strength to become good, for holiness is a higher gift than mere existence." (St. John of Avila)

"But to love and serve God as we ought is something too noble and too sublime for us to accomplish by human powers in our present lowly and feebly condition, unless we are assisted by the grace of God." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

"Since, as everyone realizes, holiness of life is the fruit of the exercise of the will inasmuch as it is strengthened by the aid of divine grace, God has made abundant provision lest we should at any time lack the gift of grace, if we desire it. We can obtain it, in the first place, by constant prayer." (Pope St. Pius X, "Haerent Animo", 1908)

"We have to rely on God to accomplish in us something that is far beyond our ability to accomplish ourselves: to make us holy and pleasing to himself, to transform us so that we are capable of living according to his standards. That means that we have to rely on the grace of God for our salvation, not on our own achievements, even if we are as scrupulous about our conduct as a conscientious Pharisee. That means that despite all our efforts, as necessary as they are, salvation is a gift." (Martin)

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Holiness Tips

Also See: Spiritual Growth (Topic Page)

"There is no exercise which is more pleasing to God, or more meritorious or which has greater influence in infusing solid piety into the soul, than the assisting at the holy Sacrifice of the Mass." (Dom Gueranger)

"[I]n man, nothing is more internal than heavenly grace which begets sanctity, but the ordinary and chief means of obtaining grace are external: that is to say, the sacraments which are administered by men specially chosen for that purpose, by means of certain ordinances." (Pope Leo XIII, "Satis Cognitum", 1896)

"He should also be thought not to suffer a day to pass without devoting a portion of it to the meditation on some mystery of the Passion of our Lord, and to exciting and inflaming herself to the imitation and most ardent love of his Redeemer. The fruit of such meditation will be to fortify him more and more every day against the assaults of the devil." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

"Christians ... cannot grow in virtue without first increasing their faith and knowledge and of the mysteries of the Incarnate Word." (Dom Gueranger)

"How great is the value of conversation with Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, for there is nothing more consoling on earth, nothing more efficacious for advancing along the road to holiness!" (Pope Paul VI) 

"The great secret of a fervent life is to take as our ideal the maxim: 'Act on all occasions as our Lord would have acted, had he been in our place.' And it is to be noted that this is not an imaginary situation, more or less fictitious, but a reality. Each one of us in a state of grace is a living member of Christ, and therefore the acts we perform from a supernatural motive, Christ, as head of the human race, accomplishes in us and by us." (Plus)

"Are you sick in soul? Does the weight of your sins press you down? Are you blind? Are you wanting in the necessary light and knowledge on the path of salvation? Are you lame? Do you desire to make more rapid progress in virtue, but find yourself unable? Are you exhausted? Do you strength and energy flag when you are striving for grace and merit? Oh, then come to the Divine place of healing, to Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament. He will help you, He will heal you! He is present there, not for the Angels, but for you, O happy child of man! And He wills that you do not fear, that you do not hesitate, but that you come with joy and confidence and ask much of Him." (Fr. Etlin)

"No one can fail to see that the divine Eucharist bestows an incomparable dignity upon the Christian people. For it is not just while the Sacrifice is being offered and the Sacrament is being confected, but also after the Sacrifice has been offered and the Sacrament confected - while the Eucharist is reserved in churches or oratories - that Christ is truly Emmanuel, which means 'God with us.' For He is in the midst of us day and night; He dwells in us with the fullness of grace and of truth. He raises the level of morals, fosters virtue, comforts the sorrowful, strengthens the weak and stirs up all those who draw near to Him to imitate Him, so that they may learn from his example to be meek and humble of heart, and to seek not their own interests but those of God. Anyone who has a special devotion to the sacred Eucharist and who tries to repay Christ's infinite love for us with an eager and unselfish love of his own, will experience and fully understand - and this will bring great delight and benefit to his soul - just how precious is a life hidden with Christ in God and just how worthwhile it is to carry on a conversation with Christ, for there is nothing more consoling here on earth, nothing more efficacious for progress along the paths of holiness." (Mysterium Fidei, Pope Paul VI, 1965 A.D.)

"When dealing with genuine and solid piety We stated that there could be no real opposition between the sacred liturgy and other religious practices, provided they be kept within legitimate bounds and performed for a legitimate purpose. In fact, there are certain exercises of piety which the Church recommends very much to clergy and religious. It is Our wish also that the faithful, as well, should take part in these practices. The chief of these are: meditation on spiritual things, diligent examination of conscience, enclosed retreats, visits to the Blessed Sacrament, and those special prayers in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary among which the rosary, as all know, has pride of place. From these multiple forms of piety, the inspiration and action of the Holy Spirit cannot be absent. Their purpose is, in various ways, to attract and direct our souls to God, purifying them from their sins, encouraging them to practice virtue and, finally, stimulating them to advance along the path of sincere piety by accustoming them to meditate on the eternal truths and disposing them better to contemplate the mysteries of the human and divine natures of Christ. Besides, since they develop a deeper spiritual life of the faithful, they prepare them to take part in sacred public functions with greater fruit, and they lessen the danger of liturgical prayers becoming an empty ritualism." (Pope Pius XII, "Mediator Dei", 1947)

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Holiness Tips from the Saints

Also See: Saints (Topic Page)

"You ask me for a method of attaining perfection. I know of love - and only love. Love can do all things." (St. Therese of Lisieux, Doctor of the Church)

"Walk in the good, believe in God, don't try to acquire perfection by force, but do everything quietly and then you will be truly humble. God will give you everything." (St. Paul of the Cross)

"Whosoever wishes to increase always in virtue and grace, should meditate without ceasing of the Passion of Jesus; for nothing conduces more to sanctify a soul than the frequent remembrance of the sufferings of Christ." (St. Bonaventure)

"Thus the servant of God ought not to fix his attention exclusively on one virtue, however great, but upon them all. Just as, in a viol, one string alone cannot produce harmonious music unless the others are made to contribute, so any single virtue is not sufficient to secure this spiritual harmony unless the others join in unison. A single defect destroys the whole value of a clock; so also it is with a spiritual life if but one virtue falters." (St. Peter of Alcantara)

"Nothing can be imagined more useful than for those who value their salvation to examine their consciences diligently twice every day, morning and night." (St. Robert Bellarmine, Doctor of the Church) 

"A sure way for a Christian to grow rapidly in holiness is a conscientious effort to carry out God's will in all circumstances and at all times." (St. Vincent de Paul)

"Experience shows that the man who frequently subjects his thoughts, words and actions to a strict examination, gains new strength of soul both to detest and fly from evil and to desire and strive for the good." (Pope St. Pius X, "Haerent Animo", 1908)

"It is an old custom of the saints of God to have some little prayers ready and to be frequently darting them up to heaven during the day, lifting their minds to God out of the mire of this world. He who adopts this plan will obtain great fruits with little pains." (St. Philip Neri)

"Those who seek to perfect themselves in every aspect of virtue should look to the lives of the saints, which are like living and breathing works of art, and thus by imitation try to reproduce their virtues in their own life." (St. Basil the Great, Doctor of the Church)

"Do you want our Lord to give you many graces? Visit Him often. Do you want Him to give you few graces? Visit Him seldom." (St. John Bosco)

"He who, when tempted, makes the Sign of the Cross with devotion, makes Hell tremble and Heaven rejoice." (St. John Vianney)

"When we are assailed by some vice, we must, as far as possible, embrace the practice of the contrary virtue." (St. Francis de Sales, Doctor of the Church)

"Particularly relevant...is the excellent advice of [St. John] Chrysostom which was intended especially for priests. Every night before going to sleep, 'make your conscience appear in judgment; demand of it an account, and having thoroughly probed and analyzed whatever evil purposes you formed during the day, repent for them.'" (Pope St. Pius X, "Haerent Animo", 1908)

"[T]hey who have peace with God and are always saying to the Father with their whole hearts 'thy will be done' can be overcome in no battles, can be hurt by no assaults." (Pope St. Leo the Great, Doctor of the Church)

"Stinginess is redeemed by generosity; insult by apology, severity by agreeableness, harshness by gentleness, fickleness by seriousness, perversity by honesty; and for whatever else, amends are made by practice of the opposite." (St. Pacian of Barcelona)

"As a searching investigator of the integrity of your own conduct, submit your life to a daily examination. Consider carefully what progress you have made or what ground you have lost...Strive to know yourself...Place all your faults before your eyes. Come face to face with yourself, as though you were another person, and then weep for your faults." (St. Bernard, Doctor of the Church)

"'For as long as you bear about a mortal body, sin fights against you; only let it not rule in you. What do I mean by 'let it not rule'? I mean by obeying its desires. Once you begin to obey, sin reigns. And what else is this obedience than to yield your members up to sin to serve iniquity...? Do not yield your members to sin to serve iniquity. God had given you through His Spirit power to keep your members in subjection. Passion rises in revolt: keep you the mastery over your members. What does the rebel aim at doing? Keep the mastery over your members; yield them not to sin to serve iniquity; do not give your adversary the weapons with which to fight you. Let not your feet wander to what is unlawful. Passion rebels: guard your members. Keep your hands free of every crime. Restrain your eyes from evil glances. Stop your ears, lest they willingly listen to lewd speech. Keep watch over the whole body, the whole frame, the noblest, the humblest parts." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church)

"I often speak with my Teacher, Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, because I can learn from Him. Jesus is the Teacher of the science of holiness. I go to Him because I would like to learn from Him how to become a saint. Of what use to me is all knowledge and education, if I do not become holy?" (St. Francis de Sales, Doctor of the Church)

"The saintly abbot, Bernard, when writing to Eugene III, his former pupil who had become Roman Pontiff, frankly and emphatically admonished him never to omit daily divine meditation; he would not admit as an excusing cause even the many weighty cares which the supreme pontificate involves. In justification of this advice he enumerated with great prudence the benefits of the practice of meditation: 'Meditation purifies the source from which it comes, the mind. It controls affections, guides our acts, corrects excesses, rules our conduct, introduces order and dignity into our lives; it bestows understanding of things divine and human. It brings clarity where there is confusion, binds what is torn apart, gathers what is scattered, investigates what is hidden, seeks out the truth, weighs what has the appearance of truth, and shows up what is pretense and falsehood. It plans future action and reviews the past, so that nothing remains in the mind that has not been corrected or that stands in need of correction. When affairs are prospering it anticipates the onset of adversity, and when adversity comes it seems not to feel it, in this it displays in turn prudence and fortitude.'" (Pope St. Pius X, "Haerent Animo", 1908)

"Whoever gives himself entirely to God must take care not to pour himself out wholly in works, but must stretch forward also to the heights of contemplation. Nevertheless, it is here very important to notice that there is a great variety of spiritual temperaments. One who could give himself peacefully to the contemplation of God would be crushed by works and fall; another, who would be kept in a good life by the ordinary occupations of men, would be mortally wounded by the sword of a contemplation above his powers: either for want of love to prevent repose from becoming torpor, or for want of fear to guard him against the illusions of pride or of the senses. He who would be perfect must, therefore, first accustom himself on the plain to the practice of the virtues, in order to ascend more securely to the heights, leaving behind every impulse of the senses which can only distract the mind from its purpose, every image whose outline cannot adapt itself to the figureless light he desires to behold. Action first, then, contemplation last. The Gospel praises Mary, but does not blame Martha, because the merit of the active life is great, though that of contemplation is greater." (St. Gregory the Great, Doctor of the Church)

"Everything we do, we do as a preparation for the life to come. We weigh all in the light of that life, and consider it our duty to love and strive with might and main to attain whatever will help us reach it; whatever does not lead to it, we rightly put aside as worthless." (St. Basil the Great, Doctor of the Church)

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Humility

"If someone were to be the holiest man in the world, and to consider himself the vilest - that would be humility." (Br. Giles)

"All heavenly visions, revelations and feelings - or whatever else one may desire to think on - are not worth as much as the least act of humility. Humility has the effect of charity: It neither esteems nor seeks its own, it thinks no evil save of self, it things no good of self but of others." (St. John of the Cross, Doctor of the Church)

"No one can come to the knowledge of God except through humility. The way to go up is to go down." (Br. Giles)

"You aspire to great things? Begin with little ones. You desire to erect a very high building? Think first of the foundation of humility. The higher one intends it, the deeper must the foundations be laid." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church)

"The reason why Christ chiefly proposed humility to us, was because it especially removes the obstacle to man's spiritual welfare consisting in man's aiming at heavenly and spiritual things, in which he is hindered by striving to become great in earthly things. Hence our Lord, in order to remove an obstacle to our spiritual welfare, showed by giving an example of humility, that outward exaltation is to be despised. Thus humility is, as it were, a disposition to man's untrammeled access to spiritual and divine goods. Accordingly as perfection is greater than disposition, so charity, and other virtues whereby man approaches God directly, are greater than humility." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

Also See: Topical Scripture (Humility) | Catholic Basics | Catholic Life

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Knowledge vs. Virtue

"From this, therefore, it is clear that the knowledge of good and evil is one thing, but virtue is another; for knowledge can exist without virtue… Virtue is not the knowing of good and evil. Rather, virtue is the doing of good and not doing of evil. Knowledge, however, is in fact joined to virtue in such wise that knowledge precedes virtue and virtue follows knowledge. Cognition is of no value unless it is followed by action." (Lactantius, circa 304-310 A.D.)

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Making Choices / Using Christ as a Guide

Also See: Jesus (Topic Page)

"How would Christ fulfill this humble detail of my life? I must do it in the same manner... If we adopt this counsel as the practical guide of our lives, we shall not need to look elsewhere for the road to sanctity; it is found already, and there is no more rapid or efficacious method." (Plus)

"First, have habitual desire to imitate Christ in all your deeds by bringing your life into conformity with his. You must then study his life in order to know how to imitate him and behave in events as he would." (St. John of the Cross, Doctor of the Church)

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Mortification

"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)

"The perfection of a Christian consists in mortifying himself for the love of Christ. Where there is no great mortification, there is no great sanctity." (St. Philip Neri)

"People are terribly blind and want to do great feats, undertake something as though they wanted to take God by storm, doing everything themselves according to their own will and self-confident in their own nature. No, not by fighting but by abandoning, by dying, by decreasing and abandoning! As long as there is a drop of blood in you that is unmortified and unconquered, you are imperfect." (Bl. Henry Suso)

"If you do not learn to deny yourself, you can make no progress in perfection." (St. John of the Cross, Doctor of the Church)

"Because of our bodies, we commit sin. The soul of itself is like the Angels in desiring perpetual contemplation; but the body drags it now to pride, now to avarice, not to sensuality... So the flesh must be rebuked and punished by affliction and fasts, since it is better for a father to correct his son or his daughter, than that they should go to prison. The body is the son and the flesh the daughter; and it is better for them to be corrected by you than by the prison warders of hell; that is, the demons." (St. Vincent Ferrer)

"[A]ll vices are destroyed by self-restraint" (Pope St. Leo the Great, Doctor of the Church)

Also See: Mortification (Catholic Life Reflections) | Mortification (Catholic Basics Reflections)

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Necessary Ingredients of Holiness

"Suffering is a necessary ingredient of holiness. Love is like it." (Pope John Paul II)

"...there can be no true sanctity without [love of the Church]" (Gueranger)

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Our Efforts are Necessary for Holiness / Salvation

Also See: Heaven / Salvation (Topic Page)

"To obtain the gift of holiness is the work of a life." (Cardinal Newman)

"As a good gardener works from morning till night to destroy the weeds in his garden and fill it with flowers, so let us work every day to destroy the blemishes of our soul and adorn it with virtues." (St. John Vianney)

"Eternal rest is incompatible with the shame of not having duly labored for its attainment." (Ven. Mary of Agreda)

"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)

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

"It is impossible to acquire virtues without trouble and effort." (Br. Giles)

"For the method of godliness consists of these two things, pious doctrines, and virtuous practice: and neither are the doctrines acceptable to God apart from good works, nor does God accept the works which are not perfected with pious doctrines." (St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Doctor of the Church)

Also See: Catholic Basics | Non-Catholics (apologetics)

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Our Wills / Self- Surrender

"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)

"To give one's will to God is to give all." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Perfection does not consist in experiencing consolation. It consists in surrendering one's will to God's will, whether this be burdensome or easy." (Bl. Henry Suso)

"Few souls understand what God would accomplish in them if they were to abandon themselves unreservedly to Him and if they were to allow His grace to mould them accordingly." (St. Ignatius Loyola)

"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)

"Our sanctification consists entirely in conformity to the will of God." (St. Alphonsus Liguori, Doctor of the Church)

"To the man who gives himself up to the guidance of the Holy Ghost, there seems to be no world; to the world there seems to be no God." (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)

"The sacrifice most acceptable to God is complete renunciation of the body and its passions. This is the only real piety." (Clement of Alexandria, 2nd century A.D.)

Also See: Detachment

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Perfection

Also See: Spiritual Growth (Topic Page)

"At the start of my spiritual life, when I was thirteen or fourteen, I used to wonder what more I could ever learn about spiritual perfection. I thought it impossible to understand it better. But I soon came to know that the farther one travels along the road, the farther away the goal seems to get." (St. Therese of Lisieux, Doctor of the Church)

"As perfection consists in trying to please God in everything and to please him only, we must not hesitate when we get an opportunity of being praised by him however much we displease men and lose their esteem." (St. Claude de la Colombiere)

"Perfection does not consist in experiencing consolation. It consists in surrendering one's will to God's will, whether this be burdensome or easy." (Bl. Henry Suso)

"We therefore understand the tendency toward perfection as an habitual disposition of the Christian soul through which, not content to fulfill the duties that devolve upon it under threat of sin, it surrenders itself entirely to God to love and serve Him, and consecrates itself for this same purpose to the service of its fellow man." (Pope Pius XII, The States of Perfection, 1957)

"[Two classes of persons should say the rosary every day:] the perfect to persevere in perfection, and the imperfect to attain perfection" (Muller)

"If you do not learn to deny yourself, you can make no progress in perfection." (St. John of the Cross, Doctor of the Church)

"Christian perfection has but one limit, that of having none." (St. Gregory of Nyssa)

"'To be perfect' means to love God not a little, but a great deal." (Pope John Paul I)

"True perfection consists in having but one fear: the fear of losing God's friendship." (St. Gregory of Nyssa)

"Don't let aridity distress you: Perfection has nothing to do with such things - only with virtues. Your devotion will come back when you are least expecting it." (St. Teresa of Avila, Doctor of the Church)

"For perfection consists chiefly in the observance of the precepts of charity" (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"We can never attain to perfection while we have an affection for any imperfection." (St. Francis de Sales, Doctor of the Church)

"Perfection does not lie in not seeing the world, but in not tasting or relishing it." (St. Francis de Sales, Doctor of the Church)

"Now it is presumptuous to think oneself perfect, but it is not presumptuous to tend to perfection." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Christian perfection consists in three things: praying heroically, working heroically, and suffering heroically." (St. Anthony Mary Claret)

"Beyond all problems and discussions, seek first of all union with God, and you will constantly draw closer to perfection." (Pope Pius XII, 1957)

"We do not become perfect by the multiplication of exercises, penances and austerities, but rather by the purity of love with which we do them." (St. Francis de Sales, Doctor of the Church)

"The perfection of every free human activity as well as that of every rational creature consists in the voluntary adherence to God. This perfection is partly obligatory because it derives from the very condition of being. One must strive to achieve it for fear of not fulfilling one's ultimate end." (Pope Pius XII, 1958)

"Martyrdom is the most perfect act of charity. But an act of perfection does not suffice to make the state of perfection" (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"There is no state of soul in which, under pretext of more exalted perfection, the Christian may be allowed to forget his brethren." (Liturgical Year)

"For no matter how lofty a man's perfection, he cannot fail to remember the words: 'What hast thou that thou hast not received? And if thou has received, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it'?" (Pope Pius XI, "Ad Salutem", 1930)

"To offer something to the worship of God is necessary for salvation, but to offer oneself wholly, and one's possessions to the worship of God belongs to perfection." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"'Three stages have to be passed in order to reach perfect friendship with God. External goods have to be renounced. Carnal thoughts have to be left behind. Life has to be given up, either by suffering death for Christ or by denying one's own will. Whoever binds his whole life by vow to these works of perfection assumes the status of perfection." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"According to the teaching of the Divine Master, the perfection of Christian life consists especially in the love of God and of one's neighbor, a love that is fervent, devoted, and painstaking. If it has these qualities it can be said to embrace all virtues; and can rightly be called the 'bond of perfection'. In whatever circumstances a man is placed he should direct his intentions and his actions towards this end." (Pope Pius XII, "Menti Nostrae", 1950)

"[T]he perfection of the Christian life does not essentially consist in voluntary poverty, but voluntary poverty conduces instrumentally to the perfection of life. Hence it does not follow that where there is greater poverty there is greater perfection; indeed the highest perfection is compatible with great wealth, since Abraham, to whom it was said (Gen. 17:1): 'Walk before Me and be perfect,' is stated to have been rich (Gen. 13:2)." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Now the perfection of Christian virtue lies in that disposition of soul which dares all that is arduous or difficult; its symbol is the Cross, which those who would follow Jesus Christ must carry on their shoulder. The effects of this disposition are a heart detached from mortal things, complete self-control, and a gentle and resigned endurance of adversity. In fine, the love of God and of one's neighbor is the mistress and sovereign of all other virtues: such is its power that it wipes away all the hardships that accompany the fulfillment of duty, and renders the hardest labors not only bearable, but agreeable." (Pope Leo XIII, "Auspicato Concessum", 1882)

"Penance and mortification differ in this: that penance is a debt of justice, incumbent on the sinner; mortification is a duty commanded by prudence; which duty becomes that of every Christian who is not foolish enough to pretend to be out of the reach of concupiscence. Is there anyone living who could honestly say that he has fully acquitted himself of these two duties, that he has satisfied the claims of God's justice, and that he has stifled every germ of his evil passions? All spiritual masters, without exception, teach that no man who is desirous either of perfection or of salvation should limit himself to the rules of simple temperance, that cardinal virtue which forbids excess in pleasure of any kind. This, they tell us, is not enough; and that the Christian, taking up another virtue, namely fortitude, must from time to time refuse himself even lawful gratifications..." (Liturgical Year)

"[P]erfection consists, essentially, not in poverty, but in following Christ, according to the saying of Jerome (Super Matthaeum 19:27): 'Since it is not enough to leave all, Peter adds that which is perfect, namely, We have followed Thee,' while poverty is like an instrument or exercise for the attainment of perfection. Hence in the Conferences of the Fathers (Collationes i,7) the abbot Moses says: 'Fastings, watchings, meditating on the Scriptures, poverty, and privation of all one's possessions are not perfection, but means of perfection.' Now the privation of one's possessions, or poverty, is a means of perfection, inasmuch as by doing away with riches we remove certain obstacles to charity; and these are chiefly three. The first is the cares which riches bring with them; wherefore our Lord said (Matthew 13:22): 'That which was sown among thorns, is he that heareth the word, and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choketh up the word.' The second is the love of riches, which increases with the possession of wealth; wherefore Jerome says (Super Matthaeum 19:23) that 'since it is difficult to despise riches when we have them, our Lord did not say: It is impossible for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven, but: It is difficult.' The third is vainglory or elation which results from riches, according to Psalm 49:6, 'They that trust in their own strength, and glory in the multitude of their riches.' Accordingly the first of these three cannot be altogether separated from riches whether great or small. For man must needs take a certain amount of care in acquiring or keeping external things. But so long as external things are sought or possessed only in a small quantity, and as much as is required for a mere livelihood, such like care does not hinder one much; and consequently is not inconsistent with the perfection of Christian life. For our Lord did not forbid all care, but only such as is excessive and hurtful; wherefore [St.] Augustine, commenting on Matthew 6:25, 'Be not solicitous for your life, what you shall eat,' says: 'In saying this He does not forbid them to procure these things in so far as they needed them, but to be intent on them, and for their sake to do whatever they are bidden to do in preaching the Gospel.' Yet the possession of much wealth increases the weight of care, which is a great distraction to man's mind and hinders him from giving himself wholly to God's service. The other two, however, namely the love of riches and taking pride or glorying in riches, result only from an abundance of wealth." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"There are still even now, through the mercy of God, many persons who live a Christian-like life, who keep God's commandments, and who do not willfully fail in any one of their duties; and if you do not know this, I am not astonished at it, since Elias thought that he was left alone when God said to him, 'I have left me seven thousand men, that have not bowed their knees to Baal.' This example ought to convince us that there are still some amongst us who keep themselves unspotted from the world, and who imitate the early Christians. As for you, my brothers, if you have not as yet reached to that pitch of perfection; begin at least with the wish to aspire to perfection, cut off all inclination to do evil, resist the torrent of example, and do not think of doing any good, unless you set to work in a right and lawful way. We see that St. John the Baptist at first recommends the publicans and soldiers to be content with their pay. His zeal would have willingly led him to raise them to a high degree of perfection; but they not being fit for much, he contented himself with giving them this simple advice, for fear that, by proposing something higher, they would not have been able to attain to a lower degree of perfection, much less to that height of virtue of which they were not capable. It is thus that in the world there are different degrees of virtue; as among those who are consecrated to the service of God, in the religious state, there are novices, others more advanced, and others who reach to an eminent degree of sanctity." (St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church)

"[I]t is evident that perfection consists essentially in the observance of the commandments...Secondarily and instrumentally, however, perfection consists in the observance of the counsels, all of which, like the commandments, are directed to charity; yet not in the same way. For the commandments, other than the precepts of charity, are directed to the removal of things contrary to charity, with which, namely, charity is incompatible, whereas the counsels are directed to the removal of things that hinder the act of charity, and yet are not contrary to charity, such as marriage, the occupation of worldly business, and so forth. Hence [St.] Augustine says (Enchiridion 121): 'Whatever things God commands, for instance, Thou shalt not commit adultery, and whatever are not commanded, yet suggested by a special counsel, for instance, It is good for a man not to touch a woman, are then done aright when they are referred to the love of God, and of our neighbor for God's sake, both in this world and in the world to come.' Hence it is that in the Conferences of the Fathers (Collationes i, cap. 7) the abbot Moses says: 'Fastings, watchings, meditating on the Scriptures, penury and loss of all one's wealth, these are not perfection but means to perfection, since not in them does the school of perfection find its end, but through them it achieves its end,' and he had already said that 'we endeavor to ascend by these steps to the perfection of charity.'" (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"All who accept the guidance of [the Church's] ministry should, by the command of God, do everything in their power to sanctify their own lives. As St. Paul says, 'This is the will of God, your sanctification.' (I Thes. iv, 3) Christ Himself has taught what this sanctification consists in - 'Be ye therefore perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.' (Matt. v, 48) We cannot accept the belief that this command of Christ concerns only a select and privileged group of souls and that all others may consider themselves pleasing to Him if they have attained a lower degree of holiness. Quite the contrary is true, as appears from the very generality of His words. The law of holiness embraces all men and admits of no exception. The great number of souls of every condition in life, both young and old, who as history informs us have reached the zenith of Christian perfection, these saints felt in themselves the weaknesses of human nature and had to conquer the selfsame temptations as we. So true is this that as St. Augustine has so beautifully written, 'God does not ask the impossible of us. But when He does order us to do something He, by His very commands, admonishes us to do that which we are able to do and to ask from Him for assistance in that which we are not of ourselves able to do.' ('de Natura et Gratia,' Chap. 43, No. 50.)" (Pope Pius XI, "Rerum Omnium Perturbationem", 1923)

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Perseverance

"The greatest help to perseverance in the spiritual life is the habit of prayer, especially under the direction of our confessor." (St. Philip Neri)

"[P]erseverance, by which one perseveres in Christ even to the end, is a gift of God…As long as a man is still alive, therefore, it is uncertain whether he has received this gift." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church)

"We cannot command our final perseverance, but must ask it from God." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"No one is wise, no one is faithful, no one excels in dignity, but the Christian; and no one is a Christian but he who preserves even to the end." [Tertullian ("an excellent early Christian writer" - although he would ultimately fall into heresy), 3rd century A.D.]

"Detachment is the secret of perseverance." (Bl. Sebastian Valfre)

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Proof of Holiness

"And the proof of holiness is not to work miracles, but to love our neighbor as ourselves, to think truly of God, and of our neighbor better than of ourselves." (St. Gregory of Nazianzus, Doctor of the Church)

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Remaining Quiet / Discreet

"A good work talked about is a good work spoiled." (St. Vincent de Paul)

"Remember, the sinner who is sorry for his sins is closer to God than the just man who boasts of his good works." (St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina)

"No, my dear brethren, there is nothing that is quite as ridiculous or stupid as to be forever talking about we have or what we do... This sin is even more to be feared in people who put on a good show of piety and religion." (St. John Vianney)

"The soul will not attain sanctity if it does not keep watch over its tongue." (St. Faustina Kowalska)

"According to our Lord's teaching men should do no deeds of holiness for the sake of show: and this is especially the case when one does something strange. Hence Chrysostom (Hom. 13 in Matthaeum in the Opus Imperfectum, falsely ascribed to Saint John Chrysostom) says: 'While praying a man should do nothing strange, so as to draw the gaze of others, either by shouting or striking his breast, or casting up his hands,' because the very strangeness draws people's attention to him. Yet blame does not attach to all strange behavior that draws people's attention, for it may be done well or ill. Hence [St.] Augustine says (De Sermone Domini in Monte ii,12) that 'in the practice of the Christian religion when a man draws attention to himself by unwonted squalor and shabbiness, since he acts thus voluntarily and not of necessity, we can gather from his other deeds whether his behavior is motivated by contempt of excessive dress or by affectation.' Religious, however, would especially seem not to act thus from affectation, since they wear a coarse habit as a sign of their profession whereby they profess contempt of the world." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

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Roadblocks in the Spiritual Life

Also See: Spiritual Growth (Topic Page)

"For as humility by its own elasticity rises above the weight of pride, and leaping up reaches to God, so pride by its great weight easily depresses righteousness." (St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church)

"Many men propose to begin a good work, but as soon as they have become annoyed by adversity or temptation, they abandon what they had begun." (St. Gregory of Nazianzus, Doctor of the Church)

"The soul will not attain sanctity if it does not keep watch over its tongue." (St. Faustina Kowalska)

"There are those who tire of their spiritual exercises and fall into tepidity and so walk the ways of the Lord with sadness. When this befalls us, we must turn to the Lord looking for his compassion and allow him to tell us the things of Heaven. This will transport the sleepy and indolent soul." (St. Bernard of Clairvaux, Doctor of the Church)

"The root of all evils if self-centeredness just as, on the other hand, the root of all virtues is charity. As long as this poisonous root remains in the depths of the soul, even though some of the twigs on the surface may be pruned back, others will inevitably continue to sprout from the invigorated base until the very root from which these pernicious shoots spring up has been utterly torn out and nothing more remains." (St. Aelred of Rievaulx)

"As a rule, people who aim at a spiritual life begin with the sweet and afterwards pass on to the bitter. So now, away with tepidity, off with that mask of ours, carry your cross..." (St. Robert Southwell)

"We can never attain to perfection while we have an affection for any imperfection." (St. Francis de Sales, Doctor of the Church)

"If we cannot restrain our tongue, or control our bodies and employ them in good works, can we complain that God does not call us to higher things?" (St. John of Avila)

"For those beginning the spiritual life even little things can provide setbacks. Those who are making progress are pursued by crafty little foxes who lie in wait and propose vices under the guise of virtues." (St. Bernard of Clairvaux, Doctor of the Church)

"Attempts to be virtuous that are joined to disobedience to the will of God, no matter how good they may appear, will actually work for our damnation." (St. Thomas More)

"The reason why we cannot keep our good resolutions is that we count too much on ourselves." (St. John Vianney)

Also See: Tribulations / Temptations (Reflections)

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Spiritual Direction

"[I]n the guidance of souls, the Church is far superior to the most learned doctors and to the greatest saints, all of whom were humble disciples in her school." (Liturgical Year)

"There are so many souls that would attain sanctity if only they were well directed." (St. Therese of Lisieux, Doctor of the Church)

Also See: Priests & Vocations

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Spiritual Exercises

Note: 'Spiritual Exercises' generally refers to the traditional 'Spiritual Exercises' of St. Ignatius of Loyola

"[W]e may rightly conclude that a singular resource for the eternal salvation of souls is set in the Spiritual Exercises." (Pope Pius XI, "Mens Nostra", 1929)

"[I]t is well known that the spiritual exercise according to the method and norms of St. Ignatius have been fully approved and earnestly recommended by Our predecessors on account of their admirable efficacy. We, too, for the same reason have approved and commended them and willingly do We repeat this now." (Pope Pius XII, "Mediator Dei", 1947)

"In this manner, Venerable Brethren, may these Spiritual Exercises be extended everywhere through all the orders of Christian society and if they are diligently performed a spiritual regeneration will follow. Piety will be enkindled, the forces of religious will be nourished, the apostolic office will unfold its fruit-bearing branches, and peace will reign in society and in the hearts of all." (Pope Pius XI, "Mens Nostra", 1929)

"[T]he Spiritual Exercises, properly so called were given to the world by the work of the illustrious servant of God St. Ignatius of Loyola - 'a treasure,' as is called by that venerable man of the Order of St. Benedict, Louis of Blois, whose opinion is cited by St. Alphonsus Liguori in a very beautiful letter 'On making the Exercises in solitude' - 'A treasure which God has set open for his Church in these last ages, and for which abundant thanksgiving should be rendered to Him.'" (Pope Pius XI, "Mens Nostra", 1929)

"[We] are clearly taught that in the Spiritual Exercises there is a wonderful power of bringing peace to men and of carrying them upwards to holiness of life; which has been proved by daily experience in former ages, and perhaps yet more clearly in our own: for we can hardly number those who, being duly exercised in a sacred retreat, come forth from it 'rooted and built up' in Christ; filled with light, heaped up with joy, and flooded with that 'peace which surpasseth all understanding.'" (Pope Pius XI, "Mens Nostra", 1929)

"You can easily see, therefore, how important it is for the Christian people to turn to the example of holiness given by St. Francis [de Sales], so that they may be edified thereby and may make his teachings the rule of their own lives. It would be impossible to exaggerate the value of his books and pamphlets, of which We have written, to attain this purpose. These books ought to be distributed as widely as possible among Catholics, for his writings are easy to understand and can be read with great pleasure. They cannot but inspire in the souls of the faithful a love of true and solid piety" (Pope Pius XI, "Rerum Omnium Perturbationem", 1923)

"Moreover, Spiritual Exercises, truly so-called, require a certain space of time for their fulfillment. And though, by reason of circumstances and persons, this may be reduced to a few days, or extended to a whole month; nevertheless it should not be curtailed too much if one wishes to obtain the benefits promised by the Exercises. For even as the salubrity of a place can only contribute to the health of the body of one who stays there for awhile, so the salutary art of sacred meditations cannot effectively benefit the spirit unless it spends some time in the Exercises." (Pope Pius XI, "Mens Nostra", 1929)

"And, indeed, if the Spiritual Exercises were nothing more than a brief retirement for a few days, wherein a man removed from the common society of mortals and from the crowd of cares, was given, not empty silence, but the opportunity of examining those most grave and penetrating questions concerning the origin and the destiny of man: 'Whence he comes; and whither he is going'; surely, no one can deny that great benefits may be derived from these sacred exercises. But pious retreats of this kind do much greater things than this, for since they compel the mind of a man to examine more diligently and intently into all the things that he has thought, or said, or done; they assist the human faculties in a marvelous manner; so that the mind becomes accustomed, in this spiritual arena, to weigh things maturely and with even balance, the will acquires strength and firmness, the passions are restrained by the rule of counsel; the activities of human life, being in unison with the thought of the mind, are effectively conformed to the fixed standard of reason; and, lastly, the soul attains its native nobility and altitude, as the holy Pontiff St. Gregory declares in his 'Pastoral,' by a concise similitude: 'The human mind, like water, when shut up around, is gathered up to higher things; because it seeks that from which it descended; but when it is left loose, it perishes; because it spreads itself uselessly on lowly things.' Moreover, as St. Eucherius Bishop of Lyons wisely observes; when exercising itself in these spiritual meditations; 'the mind rejoicing in the Lord is stirred up by a certain stimulus of silence; and grows by unutterable increments.' And not only so, but it also acquires that 'heavenly nourishment,' concerning which Lactantius says 'for no food is sweeter to the mind than the knowledge of truth'...From all this it clearly appears that the Spiritual Exercises avail both to perfect the natural powers of man; and further, and more specially, to form the supernatural or Christian man." (Pope Pius XI, "Mens Nostra", 1929)

"Now in order that the joyful fruits we have mentioned may flow forth from these sacred Exercises, these must needs be made with due care and diligence. For if the exercises are performed merely for the sake of custom, or tardily, and with hesitation, little or no advantage will be derived from them; wherefore before all things it is necessary that the mind, assisted by solitude should devote itself to the sacred meditations, leaving aside all the cares and solicitudes of daily life. For as that golden book, the Imitation of Christ, clearly teaches: ' The devout soul makes progress in silence and in peace.' For this reason, although we regard those meditations as worthy of praise and pastoral approval in which many make the exercises together in public - for these have received many blessings from God - still we most strongly recommend those Spiritual Exercises which are made in private, and are called 'closed.' For in these a man is more easily separated from intercourse with creatures and concentrates the dissipated powers of his soul on God himself and on the contemplation of eternal truths." (Pope Pius XI, "Mens Nostra", 1929)

"From these Spiritual Exercises, whose fame spread very rapidly in the Church, many drew a stimulus to make them run with more alacrity in the paths of sanctity. And among these was one most dear to Us on many grounds, the Venerable St. Charles Borromeo, who as we have mentioned on another occasion, spread their use among the clergy and the people; and by this care and authority enriched them with appropriated rules and directions; and what is more, established a house for the special purpose of cultivating the Ignatian meditations. This house, which he called the Asceterium, was, so far as we know, the first among the many houses of this kind, which, by happy imitation have flourished everywhere. For as the estimation of the Exercises grew continually greater in the Church, there was a marvelous multiplication of these houses, which may be called most opportune places of [reflection], set in the arid desert of the world, wherein the faithful of both sexes are separately recreated and refreshed with spiritual nourishment. And, indeed, after the cruel carnage of the war, which has so bitterly troubled the human family, after so many wounds inflicted on the spiritual and civil prosperity of the peoples, who can count the vast number of those who having seen the fallacious hopes they cherished fail and fade away, clearly understood that earthly things must give place to those of heaven, and, by the most present aid of the Divine Spirit, fled to seek true peace of mind in holy retreats? Let all those remain as a manifest proof, how, whether drawn by the beauty of a more holy and more perfect life, or tossed by the turbid tempests of the time, or moved by the solicitudes of life, or beset by the frauds and fallacies of the world, or fighting against the deadly plague of Rationalism, or allured by the fascination of the senses, withdrawing themselves into those holy houses, have tasted again the peace of solitude, all the sweeter to them because of the heavy labors they have borne, and meditating on heavenly things, have ordered their life in accordance with supernatural lessons." (Pope Pius XI, "Mens Nostra", 1929)

"Lastly it is of great moment for making the Spiritual Exercises properly and deriving fruit from them that they should be conducted in a wise and appropriate method. Now it is recognized that among all the methods of Spiritual Exercises which very laudably adhere to the principles of sound Catholic asceticism one has ever held the foremost place and adorned by the full and repeated approbation of the Holy See and honored by the praises of men, distinguished for spiritual doctrine and sanctity, has borne abundant fruits of holiness during the space of well nigh four hundred years; we mean the method introduced by St. Ignatius of Loyola, whom we are pleased to call the chief and peculiar Master of Spiritual Exercises" (Pope Pius XI, "Mens Nostra", 1929)

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Spiritual Reading

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"You will not see anyone who is really striving after his advancement who is not given to spiritual reading. And as to him who neglects it, the fact will soon be observed in his progress." (St. Athanasius, Doctor of the Church)

"[I]t is well to recall how, from the beginning of Christianity, all who have been renowned for holiness of life and sacred learning have given their deep and constant attention to Holy Scripture." (Pope Leo XIII, "Providentissimus Deus", 1893)

"[F]rom the Bible's pages we learn spiritual perfection." (Pope Benedict XV, "Spiritus Paraclitus", 1920)

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Tribulations / Temptations

"When tempted, invoke your angel. He is more eager to help you than you are to be helped! Ignore the devil and do not be afraid of him: He trembles and flees at the sight of your guardian angel." (St. John Bosco)

"Offer your temptations for the conversion of sinners. When the devil sees you doing this, he is beside himself with rage and makes off, because then the temptation is turned against himself." (St. John Vianney)

"(In our struggle against temptations) our Lord is there quite close to us, looking on us with kindness, smiling at us and saying: 'So you do love Me!'" (St. John Vianney)

"See how immediately on His birth the tyrant [Herod] is furious against Him, and the mother with her Child is driven into foreign lands. So should you in the beginning of your spiritual career seem to have tribulation, you need not to be discouraged, but bear all things manfully, having this example." (St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church)

"We must be watchful, especially in the beginning of temptation, because then the enemy is more easily overcome, if he is not suffered to come in at all at the door of the soul, but is kept out and resisted at his first knock. Whence a certain man said, Withstand the beginning: after-remedies come too late." (Kempis)

"Whoever you are then that after your baptism suffers grievous trials be not troubled at that time; for this you received arms, to fight, not to sit idle. God does not hold all trial from us; first, that we may feel that we are become stronger; secondly, that we may not be puffed up by the greatness of the gifts we have received; thirdly, that the Devil may have experience that we have entirely renounced him; fourthly, that by it we may be made stronger; fifthly, that we may receive a sign of the treasure entrusted to us; for the Devil would not come upon us to tempt us, did he not see us advanced to greater honors." (St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church)

"Satan seeks to disarm you before every temptation. He does this by taking away from you the only instrument that enables you to defeat him: prayer. In prayer, you obtain from God the light of discernment to discover Stan's snares and the strength to oppose his allurements. He will be untiring in his attempt to rob you of your daily moments for prayer, making excuses that there are other more urgent things to do. He will seek to render your prayers insignificant or inconclusive. Once there is no more room for daily prayer, God inevitably disappears from your life. Other things have taken His place, and Satan is in a position to seduce you at his pleasure." (Fanzaga)

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Warning Concerning Spiritualities Which Alienate People From the Church

"[M]any a soul has been allured into misery by the deceitful appearance of a spirituality, which promised things far above common. Woe to the soul that pretends to extraordinary results of divine union by systems which alienate her from the Church! She talks of having special lights from heaven, whereas she is but the dupe of Satan, who can put on the appearance of a bright angel. Let her retrace her steps and recover the beaten path; let her return to her mother; let her learn from the seraphic St. Teresa, that the essential condition of winning favors from Christ is to be a true 'daughter of the Church' - a title so dear to the saint that, when on the point of death, she made it the subject of her warmest thanks to God." (Liturgical Year)

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Misc.

 

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