In our quest for spiritual perfection, there is a tendency to become impatient and disquieted due to the slowness of our progress, and even to lose confidence in the power of God’s grace to bring us to our eternal homeland.
St. Francis de Sales teaches: “God is not terrible for those whom He loves; He is satisfied with little for He knows well that we have not much to give.”
Accordingly, Padre Quadrupani offers this word of caution: “The means to be employed in laboring for perfection and in making progress in virtue do not consist in multiplying prayers, fasts and other religious practices.” And here is his practical advice: “Instead, then, of continually adding to your religious exercises, study to perfect yourself in the practice of those you already perform, doing them with more love and peace of soul, and with greater purity of intention. Should it happen that you are unable to perform all your usual devotions conveniently, omit a portion of them so that the remainder may be done with greater tranquillity.” After all, St. Francis de Sales assures us that “it is a question not of succeeding but of laboring earnestly and sincerely.”
When one feels overburdened by a sense of urgency to advance more rapidly in the spiritual life, more according to his own timetable than according to God’s, perhaps he should recall these words of Quadrupani: “There are some statues, says Saint Francis de Sales, that it has cost the artist thirty years’ labor to perfect. Now the perfecting of a soul is a much more difficult work. We must therefore set about it with tranquillity, patience and confidence in God. We shall always obtain what we wish soon enough if we obtain it at the time God pleases to grant it.”
Quotations from Carlo Giuseppe Quadrupani, Light and Peace: Instructions for Devout Souls to Dispel Their Doubts and Allay Their Fears (St. Louis: B. Herder, 1898).