Steadily Perfecting

St John Climacus

Advancing in the spiritual life and becoming more and more virtuous is attained little by little. Padre Quadrupani makes these suggestions for progressing steadily in this lifelong journey:

“We should not undertake to perfect ourselves upon all points at once; resolutions as to details ought to be made and carried out one by one, directing them first against our predominant passion.” One’s predominant passion is “the source of that sin to which we oftenest yield and from which spring the greater number of our faults.”

“For example, if your ruling passion be anger, simply propose to yourself in the beginning never to speak when you feel irritated. Renew this resolution two or three times during the day and ask God’s pardon for every time you have failed against it.”

“To undertake little at a time, and to pursue this little with perseverance until one has by degrees brought it to perfection, is a common rule of human prudence. The saints particularly recommend us to apply it to the subject of our resolutions.”

“It is by this progressive method that you can at length succeed in entirely overcoming your passions, and will be able to acquire the virtues you lack. Always begin with what is easiest. Choose at first external acts over which the will has greater control, and in time you can advance from these, little by little, to the most interior and difficult details of the spiritual life.”

“Resolutions of too general a character, such as, for example, to be always moderate in speech, always patient, chaste, peaceable and the like, ordinarily do not amount to much and sometimes to nothing at all.”

“You will learn to see in all things, even in those most painful to nature, the will of God offering you opportunities to acquire merit; and in those who cause you suffering, only the instruments of this same merciful providence. You will then no longer think of repulsing or bewailing them, but will bless and thank your divine Saviour for having chosen you to bear with Him the burden of His cross, and for deigning to hold to your lips the precious chalice of His passion.”

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).

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