To Have and Hold Virtue

Here are a few thoughts from the followers of St. Francis of Assisi on the subject of virtue:

“Practise solid virtue, and do not give yourself up to ephemeral devotions, which are only so much straw.” -St. Joseph of Cupertino

“Let us be assiduous in practising every virtue with moderation, and in consequence let us arm ourselves with real and diligent discretion, that it may turn to the advantage of our salvation and the glory of Jesus Christ.” -St. Catherine of Bologna

“I consider it no less a virtue to know how to keep silence at the proper time than to speak well. It seems to me that man ought to have a neck as long as a crane’s, so that each of his words may pass through many knots before leaving his mouth.” -Bl. Egidius of Assisi

“All virtues ought to please us; but the greatest is, though feeling ourselves overwhelmed by the resistance of the inferior part of the soul, nevertheless, never to oppose ourselves to the will of those who have the right to command us.” -St. Mary Frances of the Five Wounds

“The highest perfection consists in doing ordinary actions in a perfect manner. A constant fidelity in little things shows great and heroic virtue.” -St. Bonaventure

St. Francis of Assisi has this to say on the role of prayer in obtaining virtues: “In prayer we receive the graces of God in abundance, . . . our interior affections are purified, we are united to the one true and supreme Good, in order to be strengthened in virtue.”

On preserving virtue, he says: “There is no more merit in acquiring virtue than in preserving it well in the heart, when it has once found a footing there.”

St. Bernardine of Siena suggests this solid foundation upon which many virtues rest: “No virtue is more necessary, especially at the beginning of our conversion, than humble simplicity and a modest gravity.”

St. Francis understood the great value of humility and purity in one’s spiritual life. He remarks: “A modest reserve is the surest guardian of purity; it occupies an honourable rank among the virtues.” And, he warns of a certain misappropriation of one’s virtues: “The flesh seeks glory in virtue, human applause in watches and long prayers; it leaves nothing to the soul, and tries to gain profit even from tears.”

Quotations from Flowers from the Garden of Saint Francis for Every Day of the Year (London: Burns and Oates, 1882).

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