Saturday, July 26, 2014

Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange on for What We Should Pray

[435] Now the end of the life of the soul is eternal life, and the goods which direct us to it are of two kinds: spiritual goods, which lead us to it directly; and temporal goods, which can be indirectly useful to salvation in the measure in which they are subordinated to the first.

Spiritual goods are habitual and actual grace, the virtues, the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost, and merits, the fruits of the virtues and of the gifts. According to what we have just said, humble, trusting, persevering prayer is all-powerful to obtain for the sinner the grace of conversion and for the just man actual grace that he may persevere in the performance of his duties. Prayer, made under the same conditions, is all-powerful to obtain for us also a more lively faith, a firmer hope, a more ardent charity, a greater fidelity to our vocation. The first petition we should make, as the Our Father points out, is that the name of God may be sanctified, glorified by a radiating faith; that His kingdom may come is the object of hope; that His will may be done, fulfilled with love, by an ever purer and stronger charity.

Moreover, prayer can obtain our daily bread for us in the measure in which it is necessary or useful for salvation, the supersubstantial bread of the Eucharist and the suitable dispositions to receive it well. Besides, prayer obtains for us the pardon of our sins and disposes us to pardon our neighbor; it preserves us from temptation or gives us the strength to triumph over it.

To accomplish all this, prayer must have the indicated [436] condition: it must be sincere, humble (it is a poor man who is asking), trusting in the infinite goodness, which it must not doubt, persevering, in order to be the expression of a profound desire of our hearts. Such was the prayer of the woman of Canaan, whom the Gospel mentions and to whom Christ said: "O woman, great is thy faith. Be it done to thee as thou wilt" (Matt. 15:28).

Even if the Lord leaves us contending with great difficulties from which we have prayed Him to deliver us, we must not believe that we are not heard. The simple fact that we continue to pray shows that God is helping us, for without a new actual grace we would not continue to pray. He leaves us to battle with these difficulties in order to inure us to warfare. He wishes to show us that the struggle is profitable for us and that, as He said to St. Paul in similar circumstances, the grace granted us suffices to continue a struggle in which the very strength of the Lord, which is the source of ours, is more clearly shown: "My grace is sufficient for thee: for power is made perfect in infirmity" (Cf. II Cor. 12:9). We see this especially in the passive purifications of the senses and the spirit, which are at times a spiritual tempest, in which we must continually ask for efficacious grace, which alone can prevent us from weakening.

In regard to temporal goods, prayer can obtain for us all those which should, in one way or another, assist us in our journey toward eternity: our daily bread, health, strength, the success of our enterprises. Prayer can obtain everything, on condition that over and above all else we ask God for greater love of Him: "Seek ye therefore first the kingdom of God and His justice, and all these things shall be added unto you" (Matt. 6:33). If we do not obtain these temporal goods, it is because they are not useful to our salvation; if our prayer is well made, we obtain a more precious grace in place of them.

"The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon Him" (Ps. 144:18). And the prayer of petition, if it is truly a lifting up of the soul to God, prepares the soul for a more intimate prayer of adoration, reparation, and thanksgiving, and for the prayer of union.


Source: Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, The Three Ages of the Interior Life, trans. by M. Timothea Doyle (Rockford, IL: TAN Books, 1989), 435–436.

Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange on the Efficacy of Prayer

[428] Merit, being a right to a reward, is related to divine justice [1]; prayer, on the other hand, is addressed to divine mercy, which often hears and grants it and lifts up the soul without any merit on its part; thus it raises up souls that have fallen into the state of spiritual death. The most wretched man, from the depths of the abyss into which he has fallen, can utter this cry to mercy, which is prayer. The beggar who possesses nothing but his poverty can pray in the very name of his wretchedness, and, if he puts his whole heart into his petition, mercy inclines toward him [2]; the abyss of wretchedness calls to that of mercy. The soul is raised up, and God is glorified. We should recall the conversion of Magdalen; let us also [429] remember the prayer of Daniel for Israel: "Thou hast executed true judgments in all the things that Thou hast brought upon us... for we have sinned and committed iniquity.... Deliver us not up forever, we beseech Thee, for Thy name's sake" (Dan. 3:28f., 34). The psalms are filled with these petitions: "But I am needy and poor; O God, help me. Thou art my helper and my deliverer: O Lord, make no delay" (Ps. 69:6). "Help us, O God, our Savior; and for the glory of Thy name, O Lord, deliver us: and forgive us our sins for Thy name's sake" (Ps. 78:9). "Thou art my helper and my protector: and in Thy word I have greatly hoped.... Uphold me according to Thy word, and I shall live: and let me not be confounded in my expectation" (Ps. 118:114, 116).

Do we believe in the power of prayer? When temptation threatens to make us fall, when light does not shine in us, when the cross is hard to carry, do we have recourse to prayer, as Christ advised us to? Do we not doubt its efficacy, if not in principle at least in practice? Yet we know Christ's promise: "Ask, and it shall be given you" (Matt. 7:7). We know the common teaching of theologians: that true prayer, by which we ask for ourselves with humility, confidence, and perseverance the graces necessary for our salvation, is infallibly efficacious [3]. We know this doctrine, and yet it seems to us at times that we have truly prayed without being heard.

We believe in, or rather we see, the power of a machine, of an army, of money, and of knowledge; but we do not believe strongly enough in the efficacy of prayer. The power of that intellectual force which is knowledge, we see by its results; there is nothing very mysterious about it, for we know whence this power comes and approximately whither it goes. It is acquired by human means and produces effects that remain within human limits. If, on the [430] contrary, prayer is in question, we believe too weakly in it, because we do not know clearly whence it comes and we forget whither it is going. [...]

The sources of rivers are high up; the waters of the heavens and the fountain of the snows feed their streams. A river is first a torrent which descends from the mountains before irrigating the valley and casting itself into the sea. This is a figure of the loftiness of the source of the efficacy of prayer.

At times we seem to believe that prayer is a force which should have its first principle in ourselves, one by which we would try to bend the will of God by persuasion. Immediately our thought encounters the following difficulty, often formulated by unbelievers, in particular by the deists of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries: namley, no one can move, no one can bend the will of God. God is indeed Goodness which asks only to give itself, Mercy ever ready to come to the help of him who suffers. But God is also perfectly immutable Being. The divine will is from all eternity as immovable as it is merciful. No one can boast of having enlightened God, of having made Him change His will: "I am the Lord, and I change not" (Mal. 3:6). By the decrees of Providence, the order of things and of events is strongly and gently established from all eternity [4]. Must we conclude from this, with fatalism, that prayer can do nothing, that it is too late, that whether we pray or not, what is to happen will happen?

The words of Holy Scripture remain, and the interior life must ever penetrate them more deeply: "Ask, and it shall be given you: [431] seek, and you shall find: knock, and it shall be opened to you" (Matt. 7:7; Luke 11:9; Mark 11:24).

Prayer is not, in fact, a force having its first principle in us; it is not an effort of the human soul, trying to do violence to God in order to make Him change His providential dispositions. Such a manner of speaking, which is used occasionally, is a metaphorical, human way of expressing oneself. In reality, the will of God is absolutely immutable, but this superior immutability is precisely the source of the infallible efficacy of prayer.

Fundamentally it is very simple in spite of the mystery of grace involved in it. We have here a combination of the clear and the obscure that is most captivating and beautiful. First of all, we shall consider what is clear: true prayer is infallibly efficacious because God, who cannot contradict Himself, has decreed that it should be [5]. This is what the contemplation of the saints examines profoundly.

A God who would not have willed and foreseen from all eternity the prayers that we address to Him, is a conception as puerile as that of a God who would change His plans, bowing before our will.

Not only all that happens has been foreseen and willed (or at least permitted) in advance by a providential decree, but the way things happen, the causes which produce events; all is fixed from all eternity by Providence. For material harvests, God prepared the seed, the rain that must help it to germinate, the sun that will ripen the fruits of the earth. Likewise for spiritual harvests, He has prepared spiritual seeds, the divine graces necessary for sanctification and salvation. In all orders, from the lowest to the highest, in view of certain effects God prepares the causes that must produce them.

Prayer is precisely a cause ordained to produce this effect: the obtaining of the gifts of God. All creatures exist only by the gifts of God, but the intellectual creature alone can realize this. Existence, health, physical strength, the light of the intellect, moral [432] energy, success in our enterprises, all is the gift of God; but especially is this true of grace which leads to salutary good, causes it to be accomplished, and gives strength to persevere. Grace and, even more, the Holy Ghost who has been sent to us and who is the source of living water, is the gift par excellence which Christ spoke of to the Samaritan woman: "If thou didst know the gift of God, and who He is that saith to thee: Give Me to drink; thou perhaps wouldst have asked of Him, and He would have given thee living water.... Whosever drinketh of this water shall thirst again; but he that shall drink of the water that I will give him shall not thirst forever. But the water that I will give him shall become in him a fountain of water, springing up into life everlasting" (John 4:10, 13 f.).

The intellectual creature alone is able to realize that it can live naturally and supernaturally only by the gift of God. Must we, then, be astonished that divine Providence has willed that man should ask for alms, since he can understand that he lives only on alms?

Here, as elsewhere, God wills first of all the final effect; then He ordains the means or the causes which must produce it. After having decided to give, He decides that we shall pray in order to receive, as a father, who has resolved in advance to bestow a pleasure on his children, purposes to make them ask for it. The gift of God is a result; prayer is the cause ordained to obtain it. St. Gregory the Great says: "Men ought by prayer to dispose themselves to receive what Almighty God from eternity has decided to give them" (Dialogues, Bk. I, chap. 8. This passage is quoted by St. Thomas in IIa IIae, q. 83, a. 2). Thus Christ, wishing to convert the Samaritan woman, led her to pray by saying to her: "If thou didst know the gift of God!" In the same way, He granted Magdalen a strong and gentle actual grace which inclined her to repentance and to prayer. He acted in the same manner toward Zacheus and the good thief. It is, therefore, as necessary to pray in order to obtain the help of God, which we need to do good and to persevere in it, as it is necessary to sow seed in order to have wheat. To those who say that what was to happen would happen, whether they prayed or not, the answer must be made that such a statement is as foolish as to maintain that whether we sowed seed or not, once the summer came, we would have wheat. Providence affects not only the results, but the means to be [433] employed, and in addition it differs form fatalism in that it safeguards human liberty by a grace as gentle as it is efficacious, fortiter et suaviter. Without a doubt, an actual grace is necessary in order to pray; but this grace is offered to all, and only those who refuse it are deprived of it [6].

Therefore prayer is necessary to obtain the help of God, as seed is necessary for the harvest. Even more, though the best seed, for lack of favorable exterior conditions, can produce nothing, though thousands of seed are lost, true, humble, trusting prayer, by which we ask for ourselves what is necessary for salvation, is never lost. It is heard in this sense, that it obtains for us the grace to continue praying.

The efficacy of prayer well made is infallibly assured by Christ: "Ask, and it shall be given you: seek and you shall find: knock, and it shall be opened to you.... And which of you, if he ask his father bread, will he give him a stone? Or a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? ... If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father from heaven give the good Spirit to them that ask Him?" (Luke 11:9–13). To the apostles He also says: "Amen, amen I say to you: if you ask the Father anything in my name, He will give it to you. Hitherto you have not asked anything in My name" (John 16:23 f.). Prayerful souls ought more than all [434] others to live by this doctrine, which is elementary for every Christian; by living it, one discovers its depths.

Let us, therefore, have confidence in the efficacy of prayer. It is not [...] a human force which has its first principle in us; the source of its efficacy is in God and in the infinite merits of Christ. It descends from an eternal decree of love, it reascends to divine mercy. A fountain of water rises only if the water descends form an equal height. Likewise when we pray, it is not a question of persuading God, of inclining Him to change His providential dispositions; rather we have only to lift our will to the height of His in order to will with Him in time what He has decided from all eternity to grant us. Far from tending to bring the Most High down toward us, "prayer is a lifting up of the soul toward God," as the fathers say. When we pray and are heard, it seems to us that the will of God inclines toward us; on the contrary, it is ours which rises; we begin to will in time what God willed for us from all eternity.

Hence, far from being opposed to the divine governance, prayer cooperates in it. We are two who will instead of one. And when, for example, we have prayed much in order to obtain a conversion and have been heard, we can say that it is certainly God who converted this soul, but who deigned to associate us with Him and from all eternity had decided to make us pray that this great grace might be obtained.

Thus we cooperate in our salvation by asking for ourselves the graces necessary to attain it; among these graces, some, such as that of final perseverance, cannot be merited, but are obtained by humble, trusting, and persevering prayer. Likewise, efficacious grace, which preserves us form mortal sin and keeps us in the state of grace, is not merited; otherwise we would merit the very principle of merit (the continued state of grace); but it can be obtained by prayer. Moreover, the actual and efficacious grace of loving contemplation, although, properly speaking, not merited de condigno, is obtained by prayer: "Wherefore I wished, and understanding was given me: and I called upon God, and the spirit of wisdom came upon me" (Wis. 7:7).

[435] Even when we are trying to obtain the grace of conversion for another, who perhaps resists it, the greater the number of persons who pray and the more each one perseveres in prayer, the more hope there is of obtaining this grace of conversion. Prayer thus greatly cooperates in the divine governance.



1. Merit de condigno is based on justice; merit de congruo, on the rights of friendship.

2. N.B. The context clearly shows that Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange doesn't mean material poverty but rather spiritual poverty; hence he also uses the word "wretchedness." He further repeats the common theological teaching that prayer well made infallibly obtains, not material wealth, but the grace necessary for salvation.

3. Cf. St. Thomas, IIa IIae, q. 83, a. 15 ad 2um: "Four conditions are laid down: namely, to ask (1) for ourselves (2) things necessary for salvation (3) piously, (4) perseveringly; when all these four concur, we always obtain what we ask for." And likewise of the sinner's prayer, he says (ibid., a. 16): "God hears the sinner's prayer if it proceeds from a good natural desire, not out of justice, because the sinner does not merit to be heard, but out of pure mercy, provided, however, he fulfills the four conditions given above, namely, that he beseech for himself things necessary for salvation, piously, and perseveringly."

4. This divine immutability is often affirmed, and in a beautiful manner, in Holy Scripture: "God is not a man...that He should be changed" (Num. 23:19). "The heavens are the works of Thy hands. They shall perish, but Thou remainest: and all of them shall grow old like a garment, and as a vesture Thou shalt change them, and they shall be changed. But Thou art always the selfsame, and Thy years shall not fail" (Ps. 101:26–28). "Every best gift, and every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no change, nor shadow of alteration" (Jas. 1:17).

5. Cf. St. Thomas, IIa IIae, q. 83, a. 2: "Divine providence disposes not only what effects shall take place, but also from what causes and in what order these effects shall proceed. Now, among other causes, human acts are the causes of certain effects. Wherefore it must be that men do certain actions, not that thereby they may change the divine disposition, but that by those actions they may achieve certain effects according to the order of the divine disposition: and the same is to be said of natural causes. And so it is with regard to prayer. For we pray, not that we may change the divine disposition, but that we may impetrate that which God has disposed to be fulfilled by our prayers."

6. To every adult, though he may be a great sinner, is offered the efficacious grace to pray. How? Every man receives from time to time the actual grace which renders prayer really possible for him. In this sufficient grace is offered efficacious help, as fruit in the flower. But if a man resists this grace, called sufficient grace, he merits to be deprived of efficacious grace, which would make him pray effectively. [...]


Source: Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, The Three Ages of the Interior Life, trans. by M. Timothea Doyle (Rockford, IL: TAN Books, 1989), 428–435.

Repost: Seth Godin on the Connection Revolution

22. The connection revolution is upon us

It sells the moment short to call this the Internet revolution. In fact, the era that marks the end of the industrial age and the beginning of something new is ultimately about connection.

The industrial revolution wasn’t about inventing manufacturing, it was about amplifying it to the point where it changed everything. And the connection revolution doesn’t invent connection, of course, but it amplifies it to become the dominant force in our economy.

Connecting people to one another.

Connecting seekers to data.

Connecting businesses to each other.

Connecting tribes of similarly minded individuals into larger, more effective organizations.

Connecting machines to each other and creating value as a result.

In the connection revolution, value is not created by increasing the productivity of those manufacturing a good or a service. Value is created by connecting buyers to sellers, producers to consumers, and the passionate to each other.

This meta-level of value creation is hard to embrace if you're used to measuring sales per square foot or unites produced per hour. In fact, though, connection leads to an extraordinary boost in productivity, efficiency, and impact.

In the connected world, reputation is worth more than test scores. Access to data means that data isn't the valuable part; the processing is what matters. Most of all, the connected world rewards those with an uncontrollable itch to make and lead and matter.

In the pre-connected world, information was scarce, and hoarding it was smart. Information needed to be processed in isolation, by individuals. After school, you were on your own.

In the connected world, all of that scarcity is replaced by abundance—an abundance of information, networks, and interactions.


Source: Seth Godin, Stop Stealing Dreams (What Is School for?), Seth Godin website, accessed July 26, 2014,

Friday, July 25, 2014

Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange on the One Thing Necessary

[4] As soon as a man seriously seeks truth and goodness, this intimate [interior] conversation with himself tends to become conversation with God. Little by little, instead of seeking himself in everything, instead of tending more or less consciously to make himself a center, man tends to seek God in everything, and to substitute for egoism love of God and of souls in Him. This constitutes the interior life. No sincere man will have any difficulty in recognizing it. The one thing necessary which Jesus spoke of to Martha and Mary (Luke 10:42) consists in hearing the word of God and living by it.

The interior life [...] is something far more profound and more necessary in us than intellectual life or the cultivation of the sciences, than artistic or literary life, than social or political life. [...]

[The] interior life, or the life of the soul with God, well deserves to be called the one thing necessary, since by it we tend to our last end and assure our salvation. [...]

There are those who seem to think that it is sufficient to be saved and that it is not necessary to be a saint. It is clearly not necessary to be a saint who performs miracles and whose sanctity is officially recognized by the Church. To be saved, we must take the way of salvation, which is identical with that of sanctity. There will be only saints in heaven, whether they enter there immediately after death or after purification in purgatory. No one enters heaven unless he has that sanctity which consists in perfect purity of soul. Every [5] sin, though it should be venial, must be effaced, and the punishment due to sin must be borne or remitted, in order that a soul may enjoy forever the vision of God, see Him as He sees Himself, and love Him as He loves Himself. Should a soul enter heaven before the total remission of its sins, it could not remain there and it would cast itself into purgatory to be purified.

The interior life of a just man who tends toward God and who already lives by Him is indeed the one thing necessary. To be a saint, neither intellectual culture nor great exterior activity is a requisite; it suffices that we live profoundly by God. [...] If people sacrifice so many things to save the life of the body, which must ultimately die, what should we not sacrifice to save the life of our soul, which is to last forever? Ought not man to love his soul more than his body? "Or what exchange shall a man give for his soul?" our Lord adds (Matt. 16:26). "One thing is necessary," He tells us (Luke 10:42). To save our soul, one thing alone is necessary: to hear the word of God and to live by it. Therein lies the best part, which will not be taken away from a faithful soul even though it should lose everything else.


Source: Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, The Three Ages of the Interior Life, trans. by M. Timothea Doyle (Rockford, IL: TAN Books, 1989), 4–5.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Memo: Implications of Post-Industrial Age on Catholic Faith Formation

The following are reflections to be pursued perhaps at another time.


How has/does the industrial and post-industrial age influence the formation of the Catholic faith?

If school education is primarily based on mass-production, industrial flattening, enforcing obedience through fear, and diminishing initiative and experimentation, let's substitute the following:

1. School = Church
2. Principal = Pope
3. Teachers = Bishops/priests
4. Good grades = Following precepts
5. Tests = Judgment
6. Failure = Excommunication & hell
7. Lessons = Dogma/doctrine
8. Classes = Sunday Mass

Consider, then, viewing dissidence less as a sign of disobedience and more as the natural fruit of resistance to a religion filtered by a culture that no longer applies. My meaning must be very clear here:

It is not religion in itself but as it has been inculcated in an industrial/post-industrial culture.

Questioning the purpose of the multiple-choice test and its fruitfulness for today's economy and culture is analogous to questioning the receptivity of the average man to Church teaching in relation to common living.

The A+ student is the student who can memorize answers the best, not the one who experiments and finds out why the answer is the way it is. But there is a cognitive dissonance in today's cultural mindset: uniformity contrasted with individual initiative.

Even the cultural revolution of the '60s didn't change how schooling was done, how the economy was run. Clearly it affected how parishes were run, how the liturgy was celebrated. Is it possible that Catholicism today is unconsciously viewed with the same lens through which the rest of the post-industrial economy is viewed? Is it possible that reluctance to submit to authority may be partially fueled by the perception of a religious culture that inculcates fear and squashes curiosity?

Finally, what are the implications for the formation of the faith in such circumstances? What are the implications for an educational institution to call itself "Catholic"?


This question touches upon the nature of the relation between faith and reason itself. Faith accepts God's revelation as a gift, a given; one cannot "experiment" one's way to it. The very nature of reason is dialectical and experimental; reason likes to dig into the mud of reality to discover its nature.

But people forget that reason is the interaction of the mind with being itself, which gives itself. Reason experiments with givens, the fundamental given being being itself. Being is given to reason to examine. Revelation is given to faith to accept, but reason can take revelation and examine it and draw proper conclusions.

Here it is absolutely necessary for a proper guide and custodian of revelation to keep reason from erring. St. Thomas Aquinas noted at the beginning of his Summa Theologiæ that revelation was necessary to make the truth known to man, who otherwise could have come to a knowledge of it only slowly, through much argumentation, and with the admixture of many errors.

Revelation and faith pick up where reason leaves off and make accessible that Being that transcends the created being that is within the normal purview of reason. This transcendence of faith causes darkness in reason, an obscurity because of the object accepted, God Himself.


Our culture, then, seems stuck in a schizophrenia between: 1) scientific reductionism and industrial reasoning; 2) independent initiative and experimentation that often violates the very nature of the industrial mindset. Yet both poles feed each other—experimentation is tainted by the reductionistic worldview and limits the scope of results and their interpretation. Experimentation is ultimately not free to follow reason where reason ought to lead anyway.

Givenness also requires an attitude of receptivity, and receptivity to givens leads most directly to gratitude. These are attitudes that are often lacking in an industrial/post-industrial/reductionistic society as well as a society that elevates the individual.

The "connection economy" or emphasis on the relative and on what connects us to each other may be a possible aid in relating faith organically to basic social living and learning: liberal learning through a dedication to being or what is. A dedication to being leads inevitably to truth, which is liberating, and all being relates to all being; relation is fundamental to being itself.

Faith formation and Catholic schools, then—those that uphold cura personalis—must embrace the twofold task of 1) fostering the independent and strong use of reason and 2) relating reason within a coherent understanding of reason's place in created being and hence revelation and faith's role in reasonable and free living. But relating reason back to this coherent understanding must be guided by an authority, which is the Magisterium.

Repost: Seth Godin - "Create Your Tribe, Inspire Those Around You, and Share Your Art"

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Repost: 15 Minutes Alone - A Study

Source: Mark Prigg, "Need Some Alone Time? Researchers Find Men Would Rather Administer Electric Shocks to Themselves than Spend Time Alone with Nothing to Do but Think," Mail Online, July 3, 2014, accessed July 22, 2014,


We've all complained that we would love some time alone - but few people actually enjoy it, researchers have found.

Most volunteers who were asked to spend no more than 15 minutes alone in a room doing nothing but sitting and thinking found the task onerous.

In fact, some of the volunteers, men in particular, preferred to administer mild electrical shocks to themselves rather than sit and do nothing.

'Many people find it difficult to use their own minds to entertain themselves, at least when asked to do it on the spot,' said University of Virginia psychology professor Timothy Wilson, who led the study appearing in the journal Science.

'In this modern age, with all the gadgets we have, people seem to fill up every moment with some external activity.'

Nearly 800 people took part in the study.

Some experiments involved only college students.

The researchers then broadened the study to include adults who live in the same area.

They went to a church and farmer's market to recruit people from a variety of backgrounds and ages up to 77.

And they got the same results: most participants regardless of age or gender did not like to be idle and alone with their thoughts.

In some experiments, college volunteers were asked to sit alone in a bare laboratory room and spend six to 15 minutes doing nothing but thinking or daydreaming.

They were not allowed to have a cellphone, music player, reading material or writing implements and were asked to remain in their seats and stay awake.

Most reported they did not enjoy the task and found it hard to concentrate.

Researchers then had adult and college student volunteers do the same thing in their homes, and got the same results.

In addition, a third of volunteers cheated by doing things like using a cellphone or listening to music.

The researchers did an experiment to see if the student volunteers would even do an unpleasant task rather than just sit and think.

They gave them a mild shock of the intensity of static electricity.

Volunteers were asked whether, if given $5, they would spend some of it to avoid getting shocked again.

The ones who said they would be willing to pay to avoid another shock were asked to sit alone and think for 15 minutes but were given the option of giving themselves that same shock by simply pushing a button.

Many did not, especially men: Two-thirds (12 of 18) administered at least one shock.

One did it 190 times. A quarter of the women (six of 24) gave themselves at least one shock.

'I think they just wanted to shock themselves out of the boredom,' Wilson said.

'Sometimes negative stimulation is preferable to no stimulation.'


Pascal was right: diversion is both modern man's greatest misery and greatest consolation from misery. We don't know how to sit quietly in our rooms. 

It would be very easy for some of us to see this study and scoff and claim, "They didn't test me. I could have done it easy." In a study of 800 people, surely at least a few of them had a similar idea. But if we were to be totally honest with ourselves and face the stark truth: could we find pleasure in being alone with ourselves, our thoughts, our being? Not distracting ourselves, not reading, not thinking, not fiddling; just being. 

Here's why most can't: 1) a habit of diversion from modern living; 2) a deep aversion to any circumstance that brings us face to face with the truth of ourselves; silence and darkness are two powerful ways of doing this. Prayer is another. Traumatic events are also another. Beauty and child-like simplicity can also do it; see, for example, how Mr. Rogers totally disarms Joan Rivers in this interview:

For most of us, the truth of ourselves is quite simple: it is the horrifying pain that we have endured for so long that we will do anything to forget about it. It is the shame and fear that has been instilled in us by our parents, peers, society, and even ourselves. It is our deepest secret and what we always are hiding from. We shun silence as boring; the darkness as full of monsters (fear of the dark, the boogeyman, which is simply a representation of our inner, psychological turmoil that we fear); prayer as going unheard or useless; simplicity as naivety; beauty as trivial (; trauma as the universe's sadism; and death as the ultimate evil for an individual (YOLO).

The truth is we don't know what to do with ourselves, so we just, in the words of the Joker, "do... things...."

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Liturgy Cannot Be Primarily Catechetical

However, it was soon pointed out that while pastoral considerations are important, the really basic issue involves a proper attitude toward and a proper behavior at worship. In short, worship itself is the issue. It was felt the consideration shown the catechetical and intellectual elements of the liturgy are sometimes excessive, and detrimental to the very act of worship. Thus, no one can be expected to understand every word of the liturgy, regardless of the language, unless we wish to recruit candidates for the lunatic asylums. Following the catechetical argument to its logical conclusion, we would arrive at a point where we would be faced with the necessity of providing different sets of missals for different strata of intelligence. Nor will audibility guarantee understanding. Nor must the mysterium element of public worship be sacrificed.
Source: Msgr. Francis P. Schmitt, "Project 90 (II)," in Caecilia 90, no. 3 (Autumn 1963): 115.

Intrinsic Dignity vs. Circumstantial Dignity

Experience tells us that circumstances may either dress a man up with nobility or with degradation. When Christ was scourged and crowned with thorns and then shown to the people, such an act was surely not dignifying but degrading. Nevertheless, we know that even in that circumstance, Christ's intrinsic dignity both as God and man perdured. In fact, reflection on such common experiences of public shame and embarrassment show us that it would be absurd to propose that a person's dignity could be annihilated by circumstances.

Intrinsic dignity is that which remains inherent to a person in spite of circumstances, perceptions, and actions. It is why rape is always wrong, even if as some people crudely suggest a victim was somehow "asking" for it or herself guilty for attracting potential rapists. Even if a woman was inviting such a gravely immoral action, the rape is still wrong because it violates the woman's dignity (among other reasons). It is also why many people argue against capital punishment; they say, "What example are we setting by killing a killer?" I'm not here to comment on the rigor of these arguments but am simply pointing out that they imply and appeal to a notion of intrinsic dignity.

Hence, it is clear that to take the life of someone, or for him to take his own life, would be wrong even if all the circumstances of his life were undignified—poverty, lack of hygiene, the absence of loved ones or any support, depression and other suffering, etc. No number of degraded circumstances could destroy the intrinsic dignity of an individual. These circumstances may make a person's life psychologically unbearable to endure, it may be granted, but the dignity remains.

When a person begs to "die with dignity," they usually, but not always, are pointing more properly to the notion of being perceived as dignified. In other cases, such a request points to that individual's self-perception of dignity: "do I see myself as dignified in these circumstances?" In either case, the person ignores intrinsic dignity. Of course, they have the freedom to do so, but they are ignoring it nonetheless.

What is the implication of intrinsic dignity? Does it mean that a person can take his own life? Most cases of euthanasia appeal to circumstantial dignity—the suffering, the dwindling resources, the age, etc. People who commit suicide often do so, if they leave a suicide note, out of circumstances and not an appeal to their intrinsic dignity.

Actually, intrinsic dignity suggests that despite circumstances a person should persevere in the struggle for self-actualization as a human. This would mean, as far as possible, the cultivation of virtue. Intrinsic dignity implies a firm rock amidst a violent ocean to which they ought to cling.

There is, finally, a striking conclusion from the notion of intrinsic dignity. A common and powerful argument for abortion is that a child should be killed before he or she should be made to suffer growing up in terrible circumstances, where a mother may resent the child for being a reminder of when she was raped, where a father is absent, where poverty and frequent abuse is the norm, where an education is practically impossible, etc. This argument presents abortion as an act of mercy to a child. But if we remember intrinsic dignity, then we can see its absurdity. Take a 5 year old who has already been growing up in such circumstances as described in this argument: should the mother/father/society/etc. be allowed to kill the child to prevent that child from suffering further abuse or neglect? What about a 2 year old? What about a 1 year old? What about a baby who has just been delivered? Should it be killed then? Clearly no one would kill a 5 year old because of such reasoning. But why should age be the only differentiating factor, and if it is, when is the child young enough, and why does that age justify the act?

If we would not kill another person because that would be a violation of their intrinsic dignity, which includes in it the right to live and to self-determination, why is the violation acceptable in the case of an infant still in the womb? The infant is biologically an individual despite its physical dependence on the mother, but even such physical dependence doesn't reduce the intrinsic dignity of an individual being; this is again circumstantial dignity which points to the physical dependence. Calling the embryo a "parasite" is again simply an argument referring to circumstantial dignity.

No, the responsible action is, as always, a respect of individuals and of what is properly theirs, which includes dignity and the right to life and self-determination even if an individual is not in the concrete capable of doing so (appeal to circumstantial dignity). The responsible act, then, is to accept the reality of suffering and moral evil AND respect the right of an infant to live despite the fact that it will grow up in the worst of circumstances.

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Psychological Importance of Rubrics

Whenever we perform a liturgical action, our virtue is not in the details of the action itself but in our willing to be good servants who do only what they are supposed to do (cf. Luke 17:7-10). Hence the importance of each action is founded on the higher principle of conformity to God's will as expressed through the Church. Following the rubrics with precision is an act of loving service to God; to ignore the rubrics, or, even worse, to disobey them, is an act of pride by which we serve our own will, not God’s will. It doesn’t matter what we think about the rubrics; all that matters is that we surrender ourselves to carrying them out with loving precision. Carelessness walks the same path as disobedience, a path that takes one right into the service of the devil and his motto: "Do what thou wilt."

Each liturgical action is simultaneously a small action and a great action. It is a small action in itself, and our Lord has said regarding small things, “Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much” (Lk. 16:10). The action is great because, as St. John of Damascus wrote, “A small thing is not small when it leads to something great; and it is no small matter to forsake the ancient tradition of the Church which was upheld by all those who were called before us, whose conduct we should observe, and whose faith we should imitate" (On Divine Images, § 1). That is, each action is great because it is sacramental and an expression of God’s grace at work in the liturgy.

Rubrics provide a necessary foundational form for the expression of praise. All expression requires some form of “repression”; that is, without boundaries, rules, and limits, anything goes. But the Church teaches us that love is not formless. Charity is oriented toward the Good; thus it must follow the will of God.

The Church prescribes rubrics to demonstrate how vital and important Her liturgy is to Her; it is so important that everything within it must be carefully directed. See the strong language that She uses:
Regulation of the sacred liturgy depends solely on the authority of the Church, that is, on the Apostolic See and, as laws may determine, on the bishop;
Therefore no other person, even if he be a priest, may add, remove, or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority.
When the rubrics are thoroughly learned and understood, then one no longer has to consciously think about them. One is then free to pray, to enter deeply into the Sacred Mysteries of the liturgy. This interior prayer, combined with the external form of the rubrics, is true liturgy.

Germain Grisez on Humorous Lies

The moral theologian Germain Grisez, following the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas, in his Living a Christian Life states:
Humorous lies manipulate others and often offend their dignity. [bold emphasis original] Many moralists think humorous (jocose) lies have little or no moral significance. This opinion may be based partly on a confusion between telling humorous fictional stories not intended to deceive anyone (these are not lies, and can be morally acceptable) and humorous lies properly so called. The latter do aim to deceive someone, although usually only temporarily, and generally in the context of playful mocking or teasing (“kidding”). For instance, someone first tells a credulous person something astonishing, embarrassing, or frightening but untrue, and by this deception provokes an emotional reaction; then the joker manifests the truth and at least implicitly ridicules the reaction. 
Although the humorous lie usually is not a grave matter, its moral significance is obvious: like every other lie, it manipulates others. This fact also explains why humorous liars typically victimize people whom they regard as inferiors (and thus offend their dignity): adults often tell such lies to children, male superiors to female subordinates, the sophisticated to the simple, and so on.” (7.B.6.h)
We are reminded of St. Paul's admonition: "Putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are members of one another" (Eph. 4:25). Is there, then, any room for a lie that makes use of falsehood?

There is a story in the life of St. Thomas Aquinas when the Saint was a novice. Because of his quietness and slowness of movement, his brothers thought him dumb. An older brother, hoping to capitalize on this, pointed dramatically out the window one day and exclaimed to St. Thomas, "Look! There is a flying pig!" St. Thomas, apparently gullible, walked over to the window and looked out. When the laughter had died down, St. Thomas turned to the brother who had made the joke and said, "It would have been better for a pig to fly than for a Dominican to tell a lie."

No, St. Thomas sure wasn't the life of the party, but for what it's worth, he is a saint and doctor of the Church.

Distinction: Complaining vs. Honesty

There is a difference between complaining and honestly stating one's feelings. Complaints are not edifying for anyone, frequently encourage gossip or detraction, and reveal an implicit distrust in God's Providence. In sum, complaints are destructive acts.

The honest stating of one's feelings, either in an interaction with another person or in prayer with God, is a necessary condition for growing in humility and witnessing to the Truth, for honestly stating one's feelings should lead to trusting more deeply in God, Who loves us infinitely, and working constructively to find solutions to the problem(s) that have caused those feelings in the first place. Honesty is constructive.

Furthermore, whereas a complaint is an unconscious cry to be loved—in other words, the act of an infant who seeks the nurturing presence of its mother, honesty is the explicit expression of maturity—the act of an adult individual who, while finite and not impervious, can become vulnerable in such a way as to offer the chance of redemption between an offender and a victim. It is by way of "softness" or vulnerability, which is founded on honesty, that a malicious act or an accident may be recognized as such, the opportunity for reconciliation may arise, and amendment of life may occur. If a person simply complains, the shunning of honest interaction can lead only to a hardening of hearts and a further isolation of one individual from the other and, depending on the size of the circumstance, a group of people from another group.

Finally, honesty is necessary in one's prayer life because only by opening up to God can we grow closer to Him. He knows how we are even if we don't tell Him, but it is important for us that we open our hearts up rather than harden and shut them off, for in the measure that we give ourselves to Him by opening ourselves up to Him in trust, so does God give Himself to us.

Thick Skin is a Defense for Self-Loathing

I think the advice to have "thick skin" is terrible advice in the pursuit of human virtue. Every time that I have heard it given, it came from people who were clearly themselves both unhappy and not virtuous, or it was given in circumstances where honesty could easily have led to a much better solution to conflict.

American culture is actually very unique in the world for being one of the only places that has turned insults and sarcasm into a form of compliment. Jokes made at the expense of another person are justified by a narrative of fraternal love—e.g. "He and I are good friends, so I can do this to him or say this about him." Somehow we have the notion that being friends justifies what in most other societies would be taken as a form of hatred or abuse.

It is in this same culture that we have the saying that one ought to have "thick skin" so as not to be disturbed by the rudeness or selfishness of others. But this solution is self-deceptive and stems from pride. The proper reaction to rudeness or selfishness from a purely human point of view cannot be to somehow stifle, suppress, or ignore what is done to us and how we feel about it; such a view presupposes that the emotions are evil and that a truthful encounter with them is likewise unacceptable. The proper reaction to rudeness can be only the honest assertion of one's dignity, of which no circumstance may justify its abuse. Hence, for example:
Offensive person: You're an idiot.
Honest person: I may be ignorant about certain things or wrong in this situation, but your insulting my character is hurtful and unjustified. If I'm wrong, correct me. There is no need to insult me.
It doesn't matter how the offensive person reacts. If he apologizes, then all is well. Most likely, he won't. Either way, contrast this response of honesty (1. stating one's feelings; 2. pointing out the injustice of the act openly) with one of dishonesty:
Offensive person: You're an idiot.
Dishonest person: Only idiots themselves call other people idiots.
This is only one example of how a dishonest person might respond. Any response that does not bring to light the injustice of the offensive person's act without being judgmental (e.g. saying, either directly or indirectly, that a person is somehow "evil" for doing something wrong) or does not state one's feelings in reaction is a dishonest one.

A dismissive response, equally dishonest, would be like the following:
Offensive person: You're an idiot.
Dishonest person: Whatever.
In trying not to take seriously the offensive person's insult, the dishonest person deflects any possibility of forgiveness, of bringing the injustice to light so that it may be repented, of reconciliation, etc.

In such cases, good-willed persons might recommend to the victim to have a "thick skin," but how can this advice, as it is commonly given, be in any way healthy for an individual? Thick skin implies the opposite of an honest encounter and expression of one's internal state.

Why is this issue important? Because most people suffer from an unconscious (and in many cases, conscious) belief that they deserve to be treated poorly, that they are not worthy of being treated well. They unwittingly invite abuse into their lives in one form or another and do not stand up to it because for one reason or another they think that such abuse is justified. Such people do not think that they possess an inherent dignity (or they may intellectually believe this but not act on it accordingly), and hence they do not assert their dignity.

The assertion of dignity must follow upon the honest belief in one's self-worth, and the assertion of dignity must always take a form of honest communication: calling out the evil for what it is and extending the opportunity for reconciliation by the honest stating of one's feelings.

Hence even people who advise thick skin themselves reveal how much self-loathing they unconsciously harbor because anyone who actually values himself could never encourage another human being of practically measureless dignity to act in such a way that would compromise that dignity.

Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalene on Generosity

[868] Generosity is very similar to magnanimity but has a wider scope, including not only great things, but anything which concerns the service of God. It urges the soul to do all with the greatest devotion. Generosity is the virtue which teaches us to spend ourselves, without counting the cost, without ever saying, "It is enough"; it teaches us to give ourselves completely, and to work with the maximum of love, not only in great things but also in little ones, even the least. Only when we are not hampered by the bonds of selfishness can we be really generous, that is, capable of giving ourself [sic] wholly to the service of our ideal, to the accomplishment of our mission, without thinking of self, without letting ourself be detained by personal preoccupations. If we really understood that our vocation comes from God, and that He has prepared for us all the graces we need to correspond with it most perfectly, we should not allow ourselves to be disheartened by the sacrifices it requires. Selfishness, preoccupation with self, and discouragement are all enemies of generosity; they are "earth and lead" which weigh down our spiritual life, making it more fatiguing and keeping us from soaring to the heights. Why should we reduce ourselves to walking at "a hen's pace" (St. Teresa of Avila, Life, chap. 13) when God has made us capable of flying like the eagle? St. Teresa laughs somewhat mischievously at those who are afraid of doing too much for God, and under pretext of prudence, measure their acts of virtue with a yardstick: "You need never fear that they will kill themselves; they are eminently reasonable folk! Their love is not yet ardent enough to overwhelm their reason. How I wish ours would make us dissatisfied with this habit of always serving God at a snail's pace! As long as we do that we shall never get to the [869] end of the road. Do you think that if we could get from one country to another in a week, it would be advisable to take a year over it?" (Interior Castle, 3rd Mansions, chap. 2).

To become generous, we must first learn to forget ourselves, our own interests, our convenience, our own rights, making no account of weariness or pain. We must have but one thought: to give ourselves entirely to God and to souls. "God's good pleasure, the welfare of others, not my own; for me the most unpleasant things, in order to please God" (Bl. Marie Thérèse Soubiran). Such is the program of the generous soul. It desires nothing but to spend life, strength, and talents in serving God, knowing that it is in the total gift of self that the greatest love consists. "To love is to give all and to give oneself" (St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus, Poems).

To become generous, we must learn to do with our whole heart, not only what is a duty, but also what, though not obligatory, will give more glory to God. St. Teresa gives us a golden rule for this: the "first stone" of our spiritual edifice must be the decision to "strive after the greatest possible perfection" (Way, chap. 5). The proposal may seem too arduous, but the Saint is not talking at random. Even if at first the soul does not succeed in discerning or in doing always what is most perfect, yet this resolution, if it is sincere and accompanied by humility and trust in the help of grace, will be a great stimulus to desire always to do better, always to do a little more; it will prevent us from settling down in a tranquil mediocrity. It is very important for those who would be intimate with God to cultivate these dispositions; in this way, little by little, we will be able to make the complete gift of ourself, the gift God awaits before giving Himself completely. "God does not give Himself wholly until He sees that we are giving ourselves wholly to Him" (ibid., 28). God whats to give Himself to us in this life, but He proportions His gift to ours; it will depend upon our generosity in giving ourselves to Him.


Source: Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalene, Divine Intimacy, trans. by Discalced Carmelite Nuns of Boston (Rockford, IL: TAN Books, 1996), 868–869.

Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalene on Patience

[871] Although courage is needed to face or to undertake hard tasks, it is even more necessary in order to persevere in them, above all when they are unpleasant or of long duration, and it is impossible to avoid or change them. In this sense, St. Thomas teaches that the principal act of fortitude is not to attack but to stand firm in the midst of dangers, and to endure struggles, opposition, privations, and persecutions with a virile spirit.

In the spiritual life we meet not only difficulties which can be surmounted and overcome once and for all by a strong act of courage, but we encounter—and this much more frequently—difficult, painful situations from which it is impossible to escape, and which willingly or unwillingly we must face. There are physical ailments which exhaust us, and prevent us from extending our activity as we would wish; there are moral sufferings caused by our own temperamental deficiencies or by contact with persons who are opposed to us or do not understand us; or again, there is the pain of seeing our loved ones suffer without our being able to relieve them; there is the experience of separation from our friends, and loneliness of heart. There are also spiritual troubles due to aridity, interior darkness, weariness of mind, temptations, and scruples. In addition to these, there are all the problems, fatigue, and difficulties inherent in our everyday duties. We know that all these things are planned by God for our sanctification and our good; nevertheless, that does not prevent us from feeling the weight of them; suffering is never pleasant, and though we will to accept all for the love of God, we are sometimes tempted to react, to give up, to shake off the yoke, or we are weighed down by sadness and discouragement. What remedy is there? There is the one which Jesus suggested to the Apostles after telling [872] them of the persecutions they would have to endure: "In patientia vestra possidebitis animas vestras," in your patience you shall possess your souls (Lk 21:19). Patience is the virtue which permits us to live in a state of suffering, hardship and privation without losing our serenity. It enables us to remain firm amid storms, contradictions, and dangers, without becoming irritated or despondent, without being deterred by them.

Christian patience is not the forced resignation of the fatalist or the philosopher who submits to suffering because he cannot escape it, nor is it the attitude of one who submits because he is not able to react through lack of strength and resources; it is the voluntary acceptance of suffering in view of God and eternal happiness, an acceptance sustained by the knowledge that suffering is absolutely necessary to purify us from sin, to atone for our faults, and to prepare us to meet God. Christian patience incites us to accept suffering serenely, and gradually to esteem and love it, not because we see it as an end in life, but rather as a necessary means for attaining the end, which is love of God and union with Him. If Jesus willed to live a life of martyrdom and to die on the Cross in order to kindle the fire of charity in us and restore us to friendship with God, how can we expect to attain the plenitude of love and intimacy with God if we do not follow in His footsteps? "Christ, therefore, having suffered in the flesh, be you also armed with the same thought," cries St. Peter (1 Pt 4:1). Let us embrace suffering, then, with the same sentiments which Jesus had: to do the heavenly Father's will, to atone for sin, and to give Him proof of our love.

Christian patience is not merely a passive attitude in the face of suffering; it is also active and voluntary. The latter is the more important because it is this which makes suffering meritorious. A patient man is passive because he wills to be passive, because he uses his free will to submit to all the sufferings which he meets on his way, because he voluntarily bows his shoulders under the yoke of suffering, just as Jesus bowed His under the weight of the Cross, because He willed to do so, "quia ipse voluit" (Is 53:7). A Christian is not a forced Cyrenean, but a willing one, not in the sense that he goes spontaneously in search of suffering—this would not be feasible for all, and sometimes would be imprudent—[873] but in the more modest sense whereby he accepts willingly all the suffering which he encounters on his way, recognizing in this the Cross offered him by God for his sanctification. [...]

[874] Patience is a virtue of primary importance and daily necessity. As we need bread to live, so every day, even every moment, we need patience, because every day and every moment brings with it its own trial. We become patient by making acts of patience, that is, by accustoming ourselves to accept peacefully all that contradicts us and makes us suffer. If, however, instead of accepting annoyances, we use every means possible to avoid them, we shall never acquire patience. For example, we may at our work come in contact with someone who clashes with us, or we may be given a difficult or disagreeable tasks; if under these or similar circumstances we do our utmost to free ourselves as soon as possible, asking for a change, we are depriving ourselves of a precious opportunity prepared for us by God Himself to make us practice the virtue of patience. In certain cases it is lawful and even a duty to represent our problems to our superiors and to ask humbly for a solution, but we should never insist on obtaining one at all costs. On the contrary, we should think that divine Providence has arranged these circumstances to help us acquire the patience we do not yet possess. St. Philip Neri once complained to Our Lord because he had to deal with an extremely insulting, disagreeable person. Our Lord replied to him interiorly, "Philip, you have asked for patience. Here is the means of acquiring it."

God will surely give us the virtue we ask of Him, but only on condition that we make use of the means He gives us, and apply ourselves to practice that virtue with the help of His grace. Whoever wishes to become a saint will not be anxious to avoid opportunities for practicing patience, but will welcome them, recognizing in them the means offered by God for his sanctification. And how can a mere creature dare wish to make any change in what has been [875] ordered "in measure, and number, and weight" (Wis 11:21) by God's infinite wisdom?

God can draw good out of evil; therefore, He can, and in fact does, use our faults and even our sins and the sins of others, to make us practice patience: patience with ourselves, seeing ourselves so frail, so imperfect, so prone to fall, yet humbly recognizing our faults and bearing their consequences peacefully; patience with others, being indulgent toward their frailties, compassionating the weaknesses of each one, and accepting without irritation the discomfort and sufferings caused by their faults. For example, when anyone disturbs or provokes us, we must not stop to consider his manner of behaving, for that would rouse our indignation, making it more difficult to practice patience. Instead, we should turn our gaze away from the creature to fix it upon God who permits this contradiction to make us advance in virtue. We should also avoid complaining about our sufferings to others, or even to ourselves. Complaints always make the heart bitter, rendering it ill-disposed to accept trials calmly. "To suffer and be silent for You, my God" (St. Teresa Margaret of the Sacred Heart of Jesus) is the motto of the patient soul who wishes to conform its conduct to that of Jesus in His Passion: "He was offered...and He opened not His mouth" (Is 53:7). If we feel the need of a little help in bearing a trial, let us speak of it only to those who will encourage us to suffer for the love of God, and not to those who will give us merely human consolation and sympathy, thereby nourishing our resentment toward those who make us suffer.

All the saints were eager for the occasions of suffering which we so eagerly avoid. Let us consider St. Jane Frances de Chantal who chose to live for many years in her father-in-law's house, amidst the disrespect and calumnies of a servant who also attempted to endanger her children's welfare. Let us think of St. John of the Cross who being free to choose the monastery in which he would spend his last days, gave the preference to one whose superior was hostile to him. These are examples of the heroism of the saints, to be sure—but heroism from which no soul of a good will is excluded and to which everyone is called by God, heroism for which we too, if we really wish to be generous, must prepare ourselves by lovingly accepting everything which causes us suffering. [...]

[877] To become a saint, it is not enough to be courageous and patience and to practice the other virtues for a few days or a few months, or even for a few years. We must persevere in these dispositions to the end of our life, never yielding to fatigue, discouragement, or laxity. This is the crucial point for, as St. Thomas says, "to apply oneself for a long time to a difficult task—and virtue is almost always difficult—constitutes a special difficulty" (Summa IIa-IIae, q. 137, a.1); and it is only by overcoming this difficulty that we shall be able to reach perfection. We are not angels, we are human beings. The angel, a pure spirit, is stable by nature; if he makes a resolution, he holds to it; but this is not the case with us. We, being composed of spirit and matter, must suffer the consequences of the instability and fluctuations of the latter. As stability is characteristic of spirit, so instability is characteristic of matter; hence it becomes so difficult for us to be perfectly constant in the good. Although we have formed good resolutions in our mind, we always feel handicapped by the weakness of the sensible part of our nature which rebels against the weariness of sustained effort, and seeks to free itself from it, or at least to reduce it to a minimum. Our bodies are subject to fatigue; our minds are disturbed by emotions which are always fluctuating. That which at once moment fills us with enthusiasm may, at the next, become distasteful and annoying to such a point that we think we can no longer endure it. This is our state while on earth and no one can escape it. However, God calls us all to sanctity, and since sanctity requires a continual practice of virtue, He, who never asks the impossible, has provided a remedy for the instability of our nature by giving us the virtue of perseverance, the special object of which is the sustaining of our efforts. Though fickle by nature, we can by the help of grace become steadfast.

[878] There are two types of perseverance. The first is so perfect that it never wavers, it is always inflexible, maintained even in the most difficult and unexpected circumstances. This is the perseverance of heroic virtue, of souls who have reached the state of transforming union, who habitually live under the influence of the Holy Spirit. It is the beautiful goal to which we can and should aspire, though we cannot attain to it by the practice of virtue alone; only the continual intervention of the gifts of the Holy Spirit can completely overcome the instability of our nature.

The second type is the perseverance practiced by fervent or even perfect souls who do not as yet enjoy the habitual motions of the Holy Spirit, and whose perseverance, therefore, shows some fluctuations, more or less slight, according to the degree of perfection of the soul. In this case perseverance does not consist in remaining perfectly stable in good, but rather in constantly beginning again as soon as any failure is recognized. Sometimes just a momentary inattention, an unexpected happening, a little weariness or emotion, is enough to make us commit some fault that we had sincerely resolved to avoid at any cost, and here we have failed again! This, however, is no reason for being discouraged or sad; rather it is a motive for humbling ourselves, for recognizing our weakness and begging more insistently for God's help to rise at once and begin again. Because our human nature is so unstable, our perseverance will usually consist in continually beginning again. This is the perseverance to which we should all attain, because it depends on our good will, in the sense that God has infused this virtue in our soul, giving us at every moment sufficient grace to practice it. It is not in our power to free ourselves from this instability of our nature, and therefore we cannot avoid every slackening in virtue, every negligence, weakness, or fault; but it is within our power to correct ourselves as soon as we perceive that we have failed. This is the kind of perseverance that God demands of us, and when we practice it faithfully, and are always prompt in rising after each fall, He will crown our efforts by granting us the supreme grace of final perseverance.


Source: Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalene, Divine Intimacy, trans. by Discalced Carmelite Nuns of Boston (Rockford, IL: TAN Books, 1996), 871–878.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Fr. Antonio Royo Marin on Patience

[469] Patience

Patience enables one to bear physical and moral sufferings without sadness of spirit or dejection of heart. It is one of the most necessary virtues in the Christian life, because the trials and sufferings which all men must [470] inevitably suffer in this life require the assistance of some virtue to keep them strong and firm lest they yield to discouragement and sorrow. Many souls lose the merit of their trials and sufferings because they fail to exercise the virtue of patience. Indeed, they suffer even more than they would have suffered because of their lack of conformity to the will of God.

Motives for patience

The principal motives for the practice of Christian patience are the following:

1) Conformity with the loving will of God, who knows better than we the things that are good for us and therefore sometimes sends us suffering and tribulation.

2) The recollection of the suffering of Jesus and Mary, incomparable models of patience, and the sincere desire to imitate them.

3) The necessity of making reparation for our sins by the voluntary and virtuous acceptance of suffering in atonement for the unlawful satisfactions and pleasures which we have enjoyed in our sins.

4) The necessity of co-operating with Christ in the application of the fruits of redemption, bearing our sufferings in union with his in order to make up what is wanting to his passion (cf. Col. 1:24).

5) The prospect of an eternity of happiness which awaits us if we know how to suffer in patience. The suffering passes, but the fruit of having sanctified our suffering will never pass.

Degrees of perfection

As with the virtue of humility, so also with patience we distinguish various grades or degrees which give some indication of the perfection of the virtue in individual Christians. The following constitute five fundamental degrees of patience:

1) Resignation without complaint or impatience to the crosses which God sends us or permits to come to us.

2) Peace and serenity in the face of affliction, without any of the sadness or melancholy which sometimes accompany mere resignation.

3) Sweet acceptance of one's cross for the love of God.

4) Complete and total joy, which leads one to give thanks to God for being associated with him in the mystery of the Cross.

5) The folly of the Cross, which prefers suffering to pleasure and places all one's delights in external or internal suffering by which one is configured with Christ. As St. Teresa used to say: "To suffer or to die." [1]

[471] Vices opposed to patience

Two vices are opposed to the virtue of patience. By way of defect, impatience manifests itself externally by anger, complaints and murmuring, and internally by a feeling of antipathy to any trial or suffering, and an excessive inclination to defend oneself or to protect oneself against all discomfort. By way of excess, insensibility or hardness of heart is manifested in those who remain stoically unmoved and insensible in the face of suffering, whether it be their own or that of another. Some individuals, because of their temperament, have a strong natural predisposition to impatience; others become impatient as the result of the lack of some other virtue, such as fraternal charity, obedience, prudence, temperance, humility, etc.

As regards the vice of insensibility, it should be noted that a purely stoical attitude toward suffering is not of itself a virtue, and that it is no defect of patience if a person is sensitive to pain. The ability to suffer is not of itself virtuous; what makes suffering a virtue is the manner in which one accepts the suffering and the motive for which he suffers.


According to St. Thomas, longanimity is a virtue which animates a man to strive for some good which is a long way off (cf. Summa, II-II, q. 136, a. 5). It has to do with the attainment of some goal which involves a great deal of time....


The virtue of perseverance inclines one to persist in the practice of the good in spite of the difficulties involved in this continued practice. To remain unmoved and resolute in the practice of virtue from day to day requires a fortitude of spirit which is provided by this virtue. All the virtues need the help of perseverance, because without it no virtue could be preserved and practiced over a long period of time, nor would any virtue ultimately attain its perfection. Although every virtue is by definition a habit of operation which is difficult to remove and is, therefore, of itself a persistent and stable quality, the special difficulty which arises from a lifelong fidelity in the practice of any given virtue requires the special virtue of perseverance. Thus we see how one virtue comes to the aid of another.

[472] [...]


Constancy is closely related to the virtue of perseverance, but is distinguished from the latter by reason of a special difficulty to be overcome. The essential note of perseverance is that it gives firmness and strength of soul in the face of the difficulty which is connected with the prolongation of a virtuous life; constancy strengthens the soul against the difficulties that proceed from any other external obstacle, such as the influence of a bad example or special temptations from without. "Perseverance," says St. Thomas, "takes precedence over constancy as a part of fortitude, because the difficulty involved in the continuation of an action is more intrinsic to the act of virtue than that which arises from external obstacles" (cf. Summa, II-II, q. 137, a. 3).

Vices opposed to constancy

The vices opposed to perseverance and constancy are inconstancy (which St. Thomas calls effeminacy or softness) and pertinacity. Inconstancy causes a man to give up the practice of virtue as soon as difficulties and obstacles are encountered. There is, therefore, a certain softness and instability or fickleness to be found in inconstant persons. The tendency to desist from the pursuit of a good which is difficult to attain, as is the faithful practice of a virtue, is especially manifested in effeminate persons, because they are [473] especially attracted to pleasures, and as soon as pleasures are lacking in any given activity, their first impulse is to abandon that activity. [2]

The vice of pertinacity is opposed by excess to the virtue of perseverance, and is defined as an obstinacy in the refusal to yield or to cease some effort when right reason requires it. As a vice, it is often found in those persons who are self-opinionated and headstrong, but its origin is usually vainglory (cf. Summa, II-II, q. 138, a. 2). Quite frequently the reason why an individual persists in his own opinion, or refuses to abandon some effort or work when reason demands, is because he wishes to make a show of his talents and abilities. In this sense the pertinacious man takes a certain pleasure in persisting unreasonably against difficulties and opposition.

Means of Growth

The principal means of growth in the virtue of fortitude and in those virtues related to it are the following:

1) Constantly to beg it of God, for although it is true that this is a general means which applies to all the virtues, since every supernatural gift comes from God (Jas. 1:17), when it is a question of the virtue of fortitude we need the special assistance of God, due to the laxity and weakness of our human nature, wounded by sin. Without the help of God, we can do nothing (John 15:5), but with his help we can do all things (Phil. 4:13). For that reason Scripture repeatedly insists on the necessity of asking help from God, who is our strength: "You are my rock and my fortress" (Ps. 30:4). "The God of power and strength to his people" (Ps. 67:36).

2) To foresee the difficulties which we shall encounter on the path of virtue. St. Thomas recommends this practice to all Christians, and especially to those who have not yet acquired the habit of working with fortitude (cf. Summa, II-II, q. 123, a. 9). In this way one gradually overcomes his fear, and when [474] difficulties actually arise, he will overcome them much more easily because he has anticipated them.

3) To accept with a generous spirit the little annoyances of daily life. Every vocation in life is accompanied with its own particular crosses and difficulties, even if it be merely a matter of the monotony of one's daily activities. If we do not learn to accept the inevitable inconveniences and small trials of daily life, such as cold and heat, pain and discomfort, small illnesses and aches, contradictions and ingratitude, we shall never make any progress in cultivating the Christian virtue of fortitude.

4) To meditate frequently on the passion and death of Christ. There is nothing which so animates and comforts delicate souls as the contemplation of the heroism of Christ. He was a man of sorrows and was acquainted with infirmities (Is. 53:3), and he left us an example of suffering so that we would follow in his footsteps (cf. I Pt. 2:21). We shall never have to suffer in our sinful bodies any pains comparable to those which he voluntarily suffered out of love for us.  However great our sufferings of soul or body, we can raise our eyes to the crucifix, and Christ will give us the fortitude to bear them without bitterness and without complaining. It is likewise helpful to remember the ineffable sorrows of Mary, of whom it is said: "Come, all you who pass by the way, look and see whether there is any suffering like my suffering" (Lam. 1:12).

5) To intensify our love of God. Love is as strong as death (Cant. 8:6), and it does not yield to any obstacle in the pursuit of pleasing the beloved. This is what gave St. Paul the superhuman fortitude by which he overcame tribulation, anguish, persecution, hunger, danger and the sword. "But in all these things we overcome because of him who has loved us" (Rom. 8:37). When one truly loves God, there are no longer any difficulties in serving him, and one's very weakness becomes the basis for hoping in him. "Gladly therefore I will glory in my infirmities, that the strength of Christ may dwell in me.... For when I am weak, then I am strong" (II Cor. 12:9-10).



1. Two distinct miraculous experiences in the lives of St. Thomas Aquinas and St. John of the Cross serve to illustrate the different approaches of each saint to the spiritual life. Each of them had heard a question from the lips of the crucified Christ: "What reward do you ask?" St. Thomas answered: "Nothing but thyself, O Lord." St. John replied: "To suffer and to be despised for thee."

2. [... St. Thomas] states: "Effeminacy is caused in two ways. In one way, by custom, for when a man is accustomed to enjoy pleasures, it is more difficult for him to endure the lack of them. In another way, by natural disposition, because his mind is less persevering because of the frailty of his temperament. [...] (Summa, II-II, q. 138, a. 1 ad 1). However, in his commentary on this particular article, Cajetan remarks that one should always take into account the question of temperament and habit, because that which would be a vice of inconstancy or effeminacy for one person would not necessarily be so for another, just as that which would be excessive drink for one person could be moderate drink for another.


Source: Fr. Antonio Royo Marín, The Theology of Christian Perfection, trans. by Jordan Aumann (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2011), 469–474.

Fr. Tanquerey on Patience and Constancy

[511] 1088. 1º Its nature. Patience is a Christian virtue that makes us withstand with equanimity of soul, for the [512] love of God, and in union with Jesus Christ, all physical and moral sufferings. We all have an ample share of suffering sufficient to make us saints, if we would only suffer courageously and from supernatural motives. Many, however, suffer complainingly, in bitterness of heart, at times even in a spirit of rebellion against Providence. Others, again, withstand suffering out of pride or ambition and thus forfeit the fruits of their endurance. The true motive that should inspire us is submission to the will of God (n. 487), and the hope of the eternal reward that will crown our patience (n. 491). Still, the most potent stimulus, is the thought of Christ suffering and dying for us. If He, innocence itself, bore so heroically so many tortures, physical and moral, in order to redeem us and sanctify us, is it not meet that we, who are guilty and who by our sins are the cause of His sufferings, should consent to suffer with Him and with His intentions, in order to cooperate with Him in the work of our purification and sanctification, and to partake in His glory by having shared in His sufferings? Noble and generous souls add to these motives the motive of zeal. They suffer to fulfil [sic] what is wanting of the sufferings of Christ and thus work for the redemption of souls (n. 149). Herein lies the secret source of that heroic patience of the Saints and of their love of the Cross.

1089. 2º The degrees of patience correspond to the three stages of the spiritual life.

a) At the beginning, suffering is accepted as coming from God; without murmur, without resentment, in hope of heavenly rewards. It is accepted in order to atone for faults and to purify the heart; in order to control ill-regulated tendencies, especially sadness and dejection. It is accepted in spite of our natural repugnance, and, if a prayer goes up that the chalice pass away, it is followed by an act of submission to the holy Will of God (Matt. 24:39).

1090. b) Patience, in its second degree, makes us eager to embrace suffering, in union with Jesus Christ, and in order to make us more like that Divine Model. Hence the soul is fond of following Him along the sorrowful road that He took from the Crib to the Cross; it contemplates Him, praises Him, and pours forth its love upon Him in all His sorrowful mysteries: at His entrance into this world when He "emptied Himself"; in His resignation [513] within the lowly crib that was His cradle and wherein He suffered even more from the insensibility of men than from the cold and the elements; amidst the sufferings of His exile, the menial labors of His hidden life, the work, the fatigue, and the humiliations of His public life; but, above all, in the physical and moral tortures of His painful passion. Strengthened by the words of St. Peter (I Pt. 4:1), "Christ, therefore, having suffered in the flesh, be you also armed with the same thought," the soul takes new courage in the face of pain and sadness; side by side with Jesus, it tenderly stretches itself forth on the Cross, for love of Him: "With Christ I am nailed to the cross" (Gal. 2:19). When suffering increases, a loving, compassionate glance upon the Crucified Christ brings the response from His lips: "Blessed are they that mourn... blessed are they who suffer persecution for justice's sake" (Matt. 5:10-12). Then, the hope of sharing in His glory in the heavenly places renders more bearable the crucifixion undergone in union with Him: "If we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified with him" (Rom. 8:17). Nay, the soul at times comes, like St. Paul, to the point where it rejoices in its miseries and tribulations, well knowing that to suffer with Christ means to comfort Him, that it means the completion of His passion, a more perfect love for Him here on earth, and a preparation for the further enjoyment of His love through all eternity: "Gladly therefore will I glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may dwell in me... (2 Cor. 12:9) I exceedingly abound with joy in all our tribulation" (2 Cor. 7:4).

1091. c) This leads to the third degree of patience, the desire and the love of suffering for the sake of God Whom one wishes to glorify, and for the sake of souls, for whose sanctification one wants to labor. This is the degree proper to perfect souls and especially to apostolic souls, to religious, priests, and devout men and women. Such was the disposition that animated Our Blessed Lord when He offered Himself as victim at His entrance into this world, and which He expressed in proclaiming His desire to suffer the baptism of His Passion: "And I have a baptism wherewith I am to be baptized. And how am I straitened until it be accomplished" (Lk. 12:50).

Out of love for Him and in order to become more like unto Him, perfect souls enter into the same sentiments: "For," in the words of St. Ignatius, "just as men of the world who are attached to the things of earth, love and seek with great eagerness honors, good name, and [514] display among men... so those who march ahead in the ways of the spirit and who earnestly follow Jesus Christ love and ardently desire what is opposed to the spirit of the world... so that were it possible with no offense to God and scandal to the neighbor, they would want to suffer insults, slanders, and injuries, be reckoned as fools, though having given no occasion therefor [sic], such is their intense desire to be likened in some way to Our Lord Jesus Christ... so that with the help of His grace we strive to imitate Him as far as we can, and to follow Him in all things, since He is the true way which leads men to life" (Constitutions of the Society of Jesus, Exam. generale, cap. IV, n. 44). Evidently, it is only love for God and for the Crucified Christ that can inspire a like love for the Cross and humiliations. [...]

IV. Constancy

1093. Constancy in effort consists in struggling and suffering to the end, without yielding to weariness, discouragement, or indolence.

1º Experience shows that after reiterated efforts one wearies of well-doing, one finds it irksome to be forever obliged to strain the will. St. Thomas remarks: "A special difficulty is attached to long persistence in a difficult task" (Summa Theol., IIa IIae, q. 137, a. 1). [515] Yet, no virtue is solid that has not stood the test of time, that has not been strengthened by deeply rooted habits.

A sense of weariness often results in discouragement and indolence. The annoyance experienced at repeating efforts relaxes the energy of the will and produces a species of moral depression or discouragement; at this juncture, the love of pleasure and a sense of regret [and resentment] at being deprived of it gain the upper hand and one lets oneself be carried by the current of evil tendencies.

1094. 2º In order to react against this weakness, we must remember: 1) that perseverance is a gift of God (n. 127) obtained by prayer. Hence, we must ask insistently for it in union with Him Who persevered unto death, and through the intercession of Her Whom we rightly call Virgin most faithful.

2) We must, after that, renew our convictions as regards the shortness of life and the everlastingness of the reward that crowns our efforts. Having an eternal rest awaiting us we can well afford a measure of annoyance here on earth. If in spite of these considerations we still remain weak and hesitant, then we must beg insistently for that grace of perseverance the need of which we feel so keenly, by repeating the words of St. Augustine: "Grant me O Lord what Thou commandest and then command whatever Thou wilt."

3) Finally, we must go back courageously to our task, supported by the all-powerful grace of God, and work on despite the apparently small measure of success that attends our efforts, remembering that it is effort and not success that God demands. Besides, we must not forget that we need a certain amount of relaxation, of rest, and of diversion. Man cannot live long without some consolation. Constancy does not therefore exclude due rest: "Enjoy thy leisure that thou mayest the better perform thy labor." The important thing is that we take our rest in submission to God's will, according to the rule and advice of our spiritual director.


Source: Fr. Adolphe Tanquerey, The Spiritual Life, trans. by Herman Branderis (Charlotte, NC: TAN Books, 2000), 511–515.

Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange on Patience

[99] "In your patience you shall possess your souls." Luke 21:19

In the difficult periods through which we have to pass, we should remember what our Lord has told us about the virtue of fortitude, which is necessary that we may not be frightened by any menace, or arrested in the way of salvation by any obstacle. We shall treat here especially of the virtue of patience, which is the most frequent form under which fortitude of soul is exercised in the vexations of life. In the Christian it should be united to meekness, and in such a way that those who are naturally meek may learn to become strong, and those who are naturally inclined to the virtue of fortitude may become meek with the meaning given to the term by the evangelical beatitude: "Blessed are the meek." Thus both will ascend toward the same summit, although by different paths [....]

Patience and Longanimity, Twin Columns of the Interior Life

Patience, says St. Thomas (cf. Summa Th., IIa IIae, q. 135, a. 1), is a virtue attached to the virtue of fortitude, which hinders a man from departing from right reason illumined by faith by yielding to difficulties and to sadness. It makes [100] him bear the evils of life with equanimity of soul, says St. Augustine (De patientia, chap. 2), without allowing himself to be troubled by vexations. The impatient man, no matter how violent he may be, is a weak man; when he raises his voice and murmurs, he really succumbs from the moral point of view. The patient man, on the contrary, puts up with an inevitable evil in order to remain on the right road, to continue his ascent toward God. Those who bear adversity that they may attain what their pride desires, have not the virtue of patience but only its counterfeit, hardness of heart.

By patience the soul truly possesses itself about the fluctuations of the sensible part depressed by sadness. The martyrs are in the highest degree masters of themselves and free. In patience is met again something of the principal act of the virtue of fortitude: the enduring of painful things without weakening. It is more difficult and meritorious, says St. Thomas, to endure for a long time what keenly vexes nature than to attack an adversary in a moment of enthusiasm [1]. It is more difficult for a soldier to hold out for a long time under a shower of bullets in a cold damp trench than with all the ardor of his temperament to take part in an attack. If the virtue of fortitude bears the blows that may cause death, as we see in the soldier who dies for his country and still more in the martyr who dies for the faith, the virtue of patience endures unflinchingly the contradictions of life (cf. Summa, IIa IIae, q. 136, a 4). Thus we see that this virtue of patience is the guardian of other virtues; it protects them against the disorders that impatience would cause; it is like a buttress of the spiritual edifice. [...]

To have patience as a solid virtue, man must be in the state of [101] grace and have charity, which prefers God to everything else, no matter what the cost. For this reason St. Paul says: "Charity is patient" (1 Cor. 13:4).

If the contradictions of life last for a long time without interruption, as happens in the case of a person forced to live with someone who continually tantalizes him, then there is need of longanimity, a special virtue resembling patience. It is called longanimity because of the length of the trial, the duration of the suffering, the insults, all that must be borne for months and years.

As St. Francis de Sales points out (Introduction to a Devout Life, Pt. III, chap. 3: Of Patience), patience makes us preserve equanimity of mind in the midst of the variableness of the diverse mishaps of this mortal life. "Let us frequently call to mind," he says, "that as our Lord has saved us by patient sufferings, so we also ought to work out our salvation by sufferings and afflictions, enduring injuries and contradictions, with all possible meekness.... Some are unwilling to suffer any tribulations but those that are honorable: for example, to be wounded in battle.... Now these people do not love the tribulation, but the honor wherewith it is accompanied; whereas he that is truly patient suffers indifferently tribulation, whether accompanied by ignominy or honor. To be despised, reprehended, or accused by wicked men, is pleasant to a man of good heart; but to suffer blame and ill treatment from the virtuous, or from our friends and relations, is the test of true patience.... The evils we suffer from good men are much more insupportable than those we suffer from others" (ibid.). 

To practice this virtue in a manner that is not stoic but Christian, we should often recall the patience of Christ on the cross, which surpasses human thought. For love of us He endured the most severe physical and moral sufferings, which came to Him from the fury of the priests of the Synagogue, from abandonment by His people, from the ingratitude of His own, from the divine malediction due to sin, which He willed to bear in our place as a voluntary victim. May the patience of our Savior preserve our souls according to the words of St. Paul: "And the Lord direct your hearts, in the charity of God and the patience of Christ" (cf. II Thess. 3:5). As a German proverb says, [102] patience yields roses and ends by obtaining all: "Geduld bringt rosen."

When we have to practice this virtue in prolonged trials, we should remember the teaching of the saints, that sufferings well borne are like materials which compose the edifice of our salvation. Sufferings are the portion of the children of God in this life and a sign of predestination: "Through many tribulations we must enter into the kingdom of God," we are told in the Acts of the Apostles (14:21). It is essential to know how to suffer calmly without excessive self-pity. Those who share most in the sufferings of Christ will be most glorified with Him. Sometimes an act of great patience before death is sufficient; this is the case of many dying persons who are reconciled to God a few days or hours before their last breath.


Source: Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, Three Ages of the Interior Life, vol. 2, trans. by M. Timothea Doyle (Rockford, IL: TAN Books, 1989),  99–102.



1. As St. Thomas says, IIa IIae, q. 123, a. 6 ad 1um: "Endurance is more difficult than aggression for three reasons. First, because endurance seemingly implies that one is being attacked by a stronger person.... Secondly, because he that endures already feels the presence of danger, whereas the aggressor looks upon danger as something to come.... Thirdly, because endurance implies length in time, whereas aggression is consistent with sudden movements."