Consider the lively examples set us by the saints,
who possessed the light of true perfection and
religion, and you will see how little, how nearly
nothing, we do. What, alas, is our life, compared
with theirs? The saints and friends of Christ served
the Lord in hunger and thirst, in cold and nakedness,
in work and fatigue, in vigils and fasts, in prayers
and holy meditations, in persecutions and many
afflictions. How many and severe were the trials they
suffered -- the Apostles, martyrs, confessors,
virgins, and all the rest who willed to follow in the
footsteps of Christ! They hated their lives on earth
that they might have life in eternity.
How strict and detached were the lives the holy
hermits led in the desert! What long and grave
temptations they suffered! How often were they beset
by the enemy! What frequent and ardent prayers they
offered to God! What rigorous fasts they observed!
How great their zeal and their love for spiritual
perfection! How brave the fight they waged to master
their evil habits! What pure and straightforward
purpose they showed toward God! By day they labored
and by night they spent themselves in long prayers.
Even at work they did not cease from mental prayer.
They used all their time profitably; every hour
seemed too short for serving God, and in the great
sweetness of contemplation, they forgot even their
They renounced all riches, dignities,
honors, friends, and associates. They desired nothing
of the world. They scarcely allowed themselves the
necessities of life, and the service of the body,
even when necessary, was irksome to them. They were
poor in earthly things but rich in grace and virtue.
Outwardly destitute, inwardly they were full of grace
and divine consolation. Strangers to the world, they
were close and intimate friends of God. To themselves
they seemed as nothing, and they were despised by the
world, but in the eyes of God they were precious and
beloved. They lived in true humility and simple
obedience; they walked in charity and patience,
making progress daily on the pathway of spiritual
life and obtaining great favor with God.
They were given as an example for all religious, and
their power to stimulate us to perfection ought to be
greater than that of the lukewarm to tempt us to
How great was the fervor of all religious in the
beginning of their holy institution! How great their
devotion in prayer and their rivalry for virtue! What
splendid discipline flourished among them! What great
reverence and obedience in all things under the rule
of a superior! The footsteps they left behind still
bear witness that they indeed were holy and perfect
men who fought bravely and conquered the world.
Today, he who is not a transgressor and who can bear
patiently the duties which he has taken upon himself
is considered great. How lukewarm and negligent we
are! We lose our original fervor very quickly and we
even become weary of life from laziness! Do not you,
who have seen so many examples of the devout, fall
asleep in the pursuit of virtue!