Furthermore, my daughter, we have certain natural inclinations,
which are not strictly speaking either mortal or venial sins, but
rather imperfections; and the acts in which they take shape,
failings and deficiencies.
Thus S. Jerome says that S. Paula had so strong a tendency to
excessive sorrow, that when she lost her husband and children she
nearly died of grief: that was not a sin, but an imperfection,
since it did not depend upon her wish and will. Some people are
naturally easy, some oppositions; some are indisposed to accept
other men's opinions, some naturally disposed to be cross, some to
be affectionate--in short, there is hardly any one in whom some
such imperfections do not exist.
Now, although they be natural and instinctive in each person,
they may be remedied and corrected, or even eradicated, by
cultivating the reverse disposition.
And this, my child, must be done. Gardeners have found how to
make the bitter almond tree bear sweet fruit, by grafting the
juice of the latter upon it, why should we not purge out our
perverse dispositions and infuse such as are good? There is no
disposition so good but it may be made bad by dint of vicious
habits, and neither is there any natural disposition so perverse
but that it may be conquered and overcome by God's Grace
primarily, and then by our earnest diligent endeavour.
I shall therefore now proceed to give you counsels and suggest
practices by which you may purify your soul from all dangerous
affections and imperfections, and from all tendencies to venial
sin, thereby strengthening yourself more and more against mortal
sin. May God give you grace to use them.