Tag Archives: virtue




When a man reaches a point where he seeks no solace from any creature, then he begins to relish God perfectly. Then also he will be content no matter what may happen to him. He will neither rejoice over great things nor grieve over small ones, but will place himself entirely and confidently in the hands of God, Who for him is all in all, to Whom nothing ever perishes or dies, for Whom all things live, and Whom they serve as He desires.


Always remember your end and do not forget that lost time never returns. Without care and diligence you will never acquire virtue. When you begin to grow lukewarm, you are falling into the beginning of evil; but if you give yourself to fervour, you will find peace and will experience less hardship because of God’s grace and the love of virtue.


A fervent and diligent man is ready for all things. It is greater work to resist vices and passions than to sweat in physical toil. He who does not overcome small faults, shall fall little by little into greater ones.


If you have spent the day profitably, you will always be happy at eventide. Watch over yourself, arouse yourself, warn yourself, and regardless of what becomes of others, do not neglect yourself. The more violence you do to yourself [the more you work on yourself], the more progress you will make.

– From: Thomas a Kempis; The Imitation of Christ


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Teresa was born of pious and noble parents at Avila, in Spain. While she was still a very little girl, she was so enkindled with a desire for martyrdom that, running away from home, she tried to go to Africa. She was brought back to her home. After her mother’s death, she committed herself wholly to the patronage of the Blessed Virgin.


When she was twenty years old, she embraced the rule of the nuns of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Solicitous for the salvation of souls, she built many monasteries and proposed that the original rule of the Carmelite foundation be observed by its women and men. She continually offered to God the voluntary sufferings of her own body on behalf of infidels and heretics and, burning with divine love, she took a most difficult vow of always doing that which she considered the most perfect.


She merited that her bosom should be pierced with a fiery dart by an angel. She wrote many books of heavenly wisdom and taught much by word and example, having this often on her lips: “Lord, either to suffer or to die.” Renowned for virtue, the gift of prophecy and other charismatic gifts, she gave back her most pure soul to God at Alba, in the year 1582, in the sixty-seventh year of her age, on the Ides of October.


Graciously hear us, O God our Saviour, that as we rejoice on the feast-day of blessed Teresa, your Virgin, we may be so nourished by the food of her heavenly teaching as to learn how to serve you. Through our Lord…

– From: An Approved English Translation of the Breviarium Romanum, Burns & Oates, London, 1964


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There is a famous instance of a holy man of old times, who, before his conversion, felt indeed the excellence of purity, but could not get himself to say more in prayer than ‘Give me chastity, but not yet.’

I will not be inconsiderate enough to make light of the power of temptation of any kind, nor will I presume to say that Almighty God will certainly shield a man from temptation for his wishing it; but whenever men complain, as they often do, of the arduousness of a high virtue, at least it were well that they should first ask themselves the question, whether they desire to have it. We hear much in this day of the impossibility of heavenly purity… are you sure that the impossibility which you insist upon does not lie, not in nature, but in the will? Let us but will, and our nature is changed ‘according to the power that worketh in us’… We dare not trust ourselves on the waters, though Christ bids us.

– Bl. John Henry Newman; What you are from not desiring a gift, this you make an excuse for not possessing it; P. S. V, 349-50


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As an Army of Mary, we are engaged in the battle for souls. The first battle begins in our own soul, and it is the battle against pride and self. It never ceases, no matter how exhausting it is.

To the end of his earthly life, the Child of Mary strives to conquer the root of evil within himself, ever purifying his intention more and more. Unaided, he is quite unable to succeed in even this first battle. So he leans on Mary with complete trust. He soon learns that the quickest method of emptying himself of self and filling himself with God, is through true devotion to Mary.

Our dependence on God’s grace

United with Mary, we rid ourselves of self-exultation. In Mary, we see the Mirror of Justice endowed with unbounded power in the realms of grace.

The perfect purity of intention exemplified in Mary drives from the soul of the Child of Mary any feelings of smug self I satisfaction and any desire for self-advancement. He works only that God may triumph in souls through Mary. His dependence on grace makes him distrust the prompting of his own inclinations and so rids him of self-will and every other impediment to the maternal influences of Mary. She takes over, developing in him from day to day the supernatural energies and sacrifices She expects from a good soldier of Christ.

– Excerpts from “Holiness Through Mary” by Fr Francis Ripley, copied from a pamphlet by the Universal Rosary Association. For the Association’s details, please visit the link above (Part 1)

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Posted by on March 23, 2017 in Prayers to Our Lady


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Such is the ordinance, such the fixed design of the Eternal Wisdom: “God resists the proud, and gives his grace to the humble.” “He overturns the throne usurped by the proud, and exalts those who have been humbled.”

It pleases this great God to put forth His whole power on nothingness. For humility brings us near to nothingness; it creates in the human soul a mysterious void, which the divine goodness hastens to fill.

Nothing is more agreeable to God than humility

Nothing is more agreeable to God than this virtue, nothing is more beloved by men. The humble man, thinking himself less than everyone, does not incommode, does not wound or give offence to anyone. The humble man, discreetly casting a veil over his virtues and merits, does not make a tiresome lecture of them; but, just because he hides them, people seek them out, in order to inhale their healthful fragrance. The humble man is gentle at heart, therein imitating Him who has said to us: “Discite a me quia mitis sum et humilis corde.” That is humility.

– R. P. Monsabre

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Posted by on May 6, 2016 in Words of Wisdom


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What art thou doing, fragile, little bee, among the flowers, which, opening out their chalices, seem to invite thee?

The sun is bright in the heavens, but its burning rays arrest not thy unceasing industry.

The flower, upon which thou dost alight, withers not beneath the touch of thy wing, and its delicate stem does not bend beneath the weight of thy agile frame.

Why this incessant toil?

I gather double riches from the flowers.

The one is sweet and odorous honey to refresh the lips of childhood.

The other is pure wax which may be burned afterwards in loving homage before the altar of Mary. Child, the house which shelters thee is like the field in which I labour.

The lessons, and above all, the example of thy mother and thy teacher, are the flowers from which, like me, thou canst draw nourishment.

Work on, without rest, while it is yet the spring-time of thy life.

Later, alas! thou wilt no longer find hearts that open at thy approach to give forth their treasures, like that of thy mother or thy teacher.

And divide also into two parts the lessons which thou gatherest.

One for thy companions of to-day, and for thy family – “benevolence and amiability.”

The other for God and Mary – “innocence and prayer.”

– From: “Golden Grains, Eighth Edition, H.M. Gill and Son, Dublin, 1889 (first published in 1871)


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How to get good from others

We are all brought into a more or less close intimacy with a certain number of our fellow beings. There is our own family whom we see more often than others, but in addition we may have a wide circle of friends with whom meetings are frequent. Among all these people, we find characters of the most varying dispositions and temperaments. Some of them are naturally attractive, with a charm of manner and an interesting personality that make their company always welcome. On the other hand there are others with whom we are obliged often to consort who are distinctly unattractive and are apt to jar upon our sensibilities. And yet we know that if we are to follow the injunction of Christ, to all, whoever they be, whether naturally pleasing or unpleasing, we must show that charity which is the distinctive mark of His followers.

To all we must show that charity which is the distinctive mark of Christ’s followers

To comply with this commandment of “Love thy neighbour as thyself” we must not forget that we live in a very imperfect world, where few, if any, reach absolute perfection and can be pleasing to us in every possible respect. At the same time we have ever to keep in mind that there is no one, without exception, in whom we cannot discover, if we only take the trouble to look for it, some redeeming good quality. Indeed, it may be that some of these possess, unsuspected by us, virtues that render them more pleasing to us than are our favourites.

Looking for virtues and excellences in others

In the life of that young saint of the Society of Jesus, St John Berchmans, we are told that he made a practice of observing in each member of his community – and though religious they were by no means all saints – the particular virtue or excellence which distinguished the other, and then trying himself to imitate him in that respect. If one, for instance, was remarkable for his charity, St John would take note of the particular ways in which he showed it, and then he would set out to act likewise, according to his opportunities.

Self-love makes humans fix upon another’s faults rather than his merits

This practice of the Saint is one that we ourselves, if we are striving to be fervent Catholic Christians, might follow with great spiritual advantage. The tendency of human nature, as we know, is rather to fix upon the faults of others and to make them the subject of criticism. But the faults we fix upon are generally those that are a cause of annoyance to ourselves. It is our self-love that resents them. If we are not personally affected by them, we are little concerned that God may be in some way affronted and be deprived of some external glory due to Him.

We deprive God of some external glory due to Him

A man may be a throrough-paced blackguard, steeped in the most grievous sin, but if he have engaging manners and makes himself a pleasant companion, doing and saying nothing that hurts the susceptibilities of others, it is extraordinary with what complaisance his bad life is regarded even by those who are considered good.

This fact only brings home to us the truth that when we animadvert upon the failings of those about us it is not as a rule out of any zeal for God’s honour but because such failings in some way or other are offensive and hurtful to ourselves.

You might observe, for instance, that a particular individual of your acquaintance is selfish and generally contrives to get the best things that are going for himself and you might make some very harsh comment on his conduct. But often enough that comment is elicited for no better reason than that his way of acting reduced the chance of your getting any of those best things for yourself.

Questioning one’s motives for criticising neighbour

No, if we are lynx-eyed to the faults and imperfections of others and show a virtuous indignation in denouncing them, we may well suspect the purity of our motives for doing so. Unless we be one in authority whose duty it is to correct, we are better advised to be very shortsighted where others’ shortcomings are concerned, and to see how clever we can be in discovering their virtues. Indeed it requires little cleverness, if only we set ourselves to the task, to find that there is something, and often much, in everyone with whom we are thrown into daily contact that will serve for example to ourselves.

Setting ourselves to the task of discovering good in another

There is a legend that Baring-Gould has commemorated in verse of a young monk who in his monastery was a source of disedification to his fellow religious, because he broke all the rules of decorum, raced about the house, whistled and sang in the silence of the cloisters, shot off pellets of bread at the cat, and did similar things that were not in keeping with the rigid discipline of monastic life. When he fell ill and seemed on the point of dying, the Abbot visited him and, amazed at his cheerfulness, asked him how he could be happy in the presence of death after such an unsatisfactory religious life. “Yes, my Lord Abbot,” humbly replied the poor monk, “I confess all my many infringements of the rule and I beg pardon for them. When I first fell ill, I was much distressed and frightened at the thought of my many defects and I prayed God for His mercy. But when I had sorrowed and prayed there came to me a vision of an angel from heaven, and the angel told me to take heart of grace because all my sins were forgiven me, because of my charity to others that had never consciously failed in thought, in word or in act. And so, my Lord Abbot, I now look by God’s sweet mercy in the face of death without dread.”

Among all your circle, family, friends, acquaintances, there are always one or more that have annoying defects of one kind or another. It will not help you to dwell upon them, much less to talk about them. But if you turn a blind eye to these blemishes, you will have quickened vision to see that in matters of greater moment they exercise a degree of virtue to which you yourself have not yet attained.

There is that rather forbidding blooming man, whom you have sometimes to meet at your club and to whom you have taken a dislike because his manners remind you of a savage. He is a widely at ravelled man, is an authority on some scientific subject, has been through two world wars, winning distinctions. You dislike him. But notice he never talks about himself without absolute necessity, gives no account of his not inconsiderable triumphs, never pushes into the limelight, does not resent it when he is unnoticed, in short it may be said of him what was said of a famous British General, “He doesn’t advertise.” He is a Catholic like yourself and you meet him every Sunday outside the church doors, but you would meet him every day there if you went to Mass every day, as he does, and you would see him going up to Holy Communion every day. That is how he has learnt to be humble and to efface himself, just as his Divine Master was humble and has effaced himself in the Sacrament of the Altar.

Yes, your forbidding-looking man is rather uncouth and boorish in his manners, but if you refrain from dwelling upon that fact you will come to discover what real virtue lies concealed under that rough exterior and you may be incited to imitate what is so good in him.

Looking beyond the exterior

There is that young woman in your family or among your friends who is rather vain and displays her charms for the admiration of those about her. You may be inclined to make some very caustic remarks about her at the expense of charity. But look the other way and you will become aware of the wonderful patience she exhibits. In these hard and suffering times through which we are living it is not surprising that there are many, you perhaps among the number, who are grumbling. But you will notice that the young woman who thinks a little too much about her personal appearance never utters a murmur of discontent.

The virtue of patience

She makes no complaints about the hardships, discomforts, and inconveniences that have followed upon these dreadful wars. Indeed it is remarkable what uniform cheerfulness she shows. She does not plaintively bleat because her portion of meat is small, and tough at that, and she exhibits no impatience because the meals are unpunctually served. She listens unruffled to the oft-repeated and pointless stories of those boring visitors whom as many as can seek to escape. In fine, she is so patient that you may make the mistake of thinking her apathetic and of not taking a lesson from her virtue to control yourself when placed in like circumstances. I think you may say that her vanity is cancelled out by her patience, especially as it is being exercised for supernatural motives.

Countless opportunities to imitate others’ virtue

So you can go round your circle, be it great or small, and always discover something in each one to admire and imitate. Don’t lay stress upon the little outbursts of temper to which the choleric old Colonel, retired from the Indian Army, sometimes gives way, but think of his generous nature which never refuses help when called upon. All that he has seems to be at the disposal of others and he never thinks that others are asking too much of him. There is that aristocratic gentleman who may take undue pride in his birth and the nobility of his family, but against that, you may remark how careful he is never by any word of his to hurt the feelings of others. In the company of one less well educated than himself, he does not exhibit his knowledge in such a way as to show up the ignorance of his neighbour and so to cause humiliation and shame. He remembers that another has not his social advantages and so avoids any topic or remark that may lead to the other’s embarrassment.

Life is about serving God; not about others entertaining us

At first inspection some of the people with whom in the course of our lives we have to live appear very unattractive and dull, and if we are only on the look-out to be entertained and amused we may turn away from them with a feeling that almost amounts to contempt. A little more insight into character and a closer observation will often reveal in such people qualities of mind and heart of much greater worth than those superficially attractive accomplishments we in our self-seeking prefer.

God sees good in all His creatures

But the thought that the all-seeing and infinitely wise God Himself sees good in all His creatures, if for this reason alone that in them all He sees the impress of His own likeness, should be incentive to us to try to regard them with something at least of His vision.

Regarding people with God’s eyes

And when He came down upon this earth and took our human nature, it was the “sinner of the city” whom in her repentance He favoured.

So eager was He to find good in every one, however degraded and condemned by his fellows, that He gladly bore the reproach of being “the friends of publicans and sinners”.

He died making a friend of the felon who in his agony turned to Him for consolation and help. He saw that there was good in all these, even though it was only a glimmer that showed it.

We may pray with great profit to our souls that we may imitate the example of our merciful Saviour, and turning a blind eye to the faults of those about us may see the good in them to the betterment of ourselves.

– From: Lift Up Your Hearts, Christopher J. Wilmot, S.J., The Catholic Book Club, London, 1949






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Be ye therefore perfect, as also your heavenly Father is perfect (Mt5:48)

“On the whole, I am a good Christian”

With regard to virtue, “that which costs nothing is worth nothing.”

This thought, an author remarks, makes us tremble. In examining our conscience, our life, and our habits, we sometimes feel a certain pleasure in discovering that we possess a small collection of virtues, “very agreeable ones…”

Thus we like to pray, “at such an hour, such a place, and with such and such sentiments,” and we say, “I am pious,” we are gentle, polite, smiling “to such a person;” we are patient “before those we fear or whose esteem we desire to gain;” we are devoted, charitable, generous, “because in the depths of our soul we feel an undesirable pleasure in giving charity and devoting ourselves to others;” we willingly suffer something “from those we love,” and we say, “I am good;” we are silent “because we do not care to talk;” we fly from society “because we do not shine in it,” and we say, “I am recollected.”

Examine yourself carefully

But examine one by one those virtues which make you so self-satisfied, and perhaps lead you to prefer yourself to others. Examine at what a price, at what sacrifice, with what labour and struggling, with what special attention you have succeeded at acquiring them… Alas! you will find that all this patience, affability, generosity, and loving piety are nothing more than so many nothings inflated with pride.

“Staying on the carpet” in order to become as holy as one can be

That which has cost nothing is worth nothing.

Sacrifice being the essential basis of virtue, as De Maistre remarks, the most meritorious virtues are those which are acquaint with the greatest trouble.

Then do not regard this charming collection of pretty virtues with such complacency, but face your faults.

Tackling one fault at a time

Take one of them, the first that comes – “impatience, laziness, want of order, gossiping, judgement of others, bad temper, …” and attack it firmly and with perseverance. A month, at least, is necessary, calculating on three victories a day, not, indeed, to destroy it – a fault has very great tenacity of life – but to prevent it ruling you.

Preventing your faults from ruling your life

One having been conquered, take another.

It is the work of a lifetime; it is especially with regard to faults that we may apply the popular proverb, “When there are not any, there are still very many.”

I will consider myself fortunate, says St Francis de Sales, if I succeed in ridding myself of my faults even a short quarter of an hour before my death.

– From: Golden Grains, Eighth Edition, H.M. Gill and Son, Dublin, 1889

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Posted by on February 1, 2016 in Words of Wisdom


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Spiritual solids rather than milk

Oh! my God, prayed a generous soul, grant that I may pass through life unnoticed!

This is the wish, or rather the end, of all souls which are deeply devoted and courageous.

Small virtues need the applause of others to sustain them, as little children require encouragement to walk; great virtues go alone through the world, spreading good, performing great acts of self-sacrifice, and never even imagining that what they do is heroic.

Great virtue walks unaided

Oblivion should be especially the motto of a Christian woman. The end of all her efforts should be to gain the protection of God, the love of her family, and the blessing of the poor – nothing more. To attain them there are three means: fidelity, devotedness, and benevolence. 

A mother once remarked: I desire to have a son who shall be spoken of by everyone, and a daughter whom nobody speaks of. This is the true limit of a mother’s hope.

– From: Golden Grains, Eighth Edition, M.H. Gill and Son, Dublin 1889


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Natural or acquired talent may count very little

“Jesus Christ chose poor, ignorant people for his Apostles, people who from a human point of view were very ill-fitted for the work.

Not that we must be uneducated and of low birth so as to work for souls, but to teach us how little natural or acquired talent counts and that it is never the cause of success. Christ chose fishermen to show us that it is not easy work; we have to be ready for great difficulties and fatigue.

We have to be ready for great difficulties and fatigue

What a wonderful thought it is that Jesus Christ, who was able to convert the whole world by himself, should have chosen to do it through his disciples. He spent his whole life training them. Jesus took for himself what was difficult: an ignominious death, and left the renown to his disciples. What love Christ showed in allowing others to help him in work he could have done alone.

Humility and obedience are essential

A man called to convert others has need of great virtue, especially humility and obedience. We must not miss our opportunities but so turn things that we appear to be following advice rather than giving it and seem to be the instrument rather than the worker. This will humble us and make the work easier…

Being the potter’s clay

You are happy in being chosen by God to enkindle his love in the hearts of others. To do this it is necessary to have deep humility and an entire distrust of self, besides zeal. We must act without haste and wait with peace and confidence until it pleases God to accomplish in these souls that which his grace alone is capable of doing and of which he alone must reap the glory.”

– St Claude de la Columbiere, 17th century


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