Example Set Us by the Holy Fathers
the lively examples set us by the saints, who possessed the light of true
perfection and religion, and you will see how little, how nearly nothing, we do.
What, alas, is our life, compared with theirs? The saints and friends of Christ
strict and detached were the lives the holy hermits led in the desert! What long
and grave temptations they suffered! How often were they beset by the enemy!
What frequent and ardent prayers they offered to God! What rigorous fasts they
observed! How great their zeal and their love for spiritual perfection! How
brave the fight they waged to master their evil habits! What pure and
straightforward purpose they showed toward God! By day they laboured and by
night they spent themselves in long prayers. Even at work they did not cease
from mental prayer. They used all their time profitably; every hour seemed too
short for serving God, and in the great sweetness of contemplation, they forgot
even their bodily needs.
renounced all riches, dignities, honours, friends, and associates. They desired
nothing of the world. They scarcely allowed themselves the necessities of life,
and the service of the body, even when necessary, was irksome to them. They were
poor in earthly things but rich in grace and virtue. Outwardly destitute,
inwardly they were full of grace
were given as an example for all religious, and their power to stimulate us to
perfection ought to be greater than that of the lukewarm to tempt us to laxity.
great was the fervour of all religious in the beginning of their holy
institution! How great their devotion in prayer and their rivalry for virtue!
What splendid discipline flourished among them! What great reverence and
obedience in all things under the rule of a superior! The footsteps they left
behind still bear witness that they indeed were holy and perfect men who fought
bravely and conquered the world.
he who is not a transgressor and who can bear patiently the duties which he has
taken upon himself is considered great. How lukewarm and negligent we are! We
lose our original fervour very quickly and we even become weary of life from
laziness! Do not you, who have seen so many examples of the devout, fall asleep
in the pursuit of virtue!