Spiritual Insights

Roses Among Thorns – Claude De La Colombiere
As the opportunities for practising virtue in a big way come infrequently, we must take advantage of the small ones which occur daily, and which will soon put us in a position to face the greater trials with equanimity when the time comes. There is no one who does not experience a hundred small annoyances every day, caused either by our own carelessness or inattention, or by the inconsideration or spite of other people, or by pure accident. Our whole lives are made up of incidents of this kind, occurring ceaselessly from one minute to another, and producing a host of involuntary feelings of dislike and aversion, envy, fear and impatience to trouble the serenity of our minds. We let an incautious word slip out and we wish we had not said it; someone says something we find offensive; we have to wait a long time to be served when we are in a hurry; we are irritated by a child’s boisterousness; a boring acquaintance button-holes us in the street; a car splashes us with mud; the weather spoils our outing; our work is not going as well as we would wish; a tool breaks at a critical moment; we get our clothes torn or stained – these are not occasions of heroic virtue but they can be a means of acquiring it if we wish. If we were careful to offer all these petty annoyances to God and accept them as being ordered by his providence, we would soon be in a position to support the greatest misfortunes that can happen to us, besides at the same time insensibly drawing closer to intimate union with God.

Internal and External Acts – Thomas AquinasThomas Aquinas
In doing external acts we must use a certain measure of discretion. The attitude of a religious man towards the acts by which he acknowledges God to be God, is quite different according to whether those acts are internal or external. lt is principally in the internal acts, the acts by which he believes, hopes, and loves, that man’s good consists and what makes man good in God’s sight. Whence it is written, The kingdom of God is within you (Lk17:21). Man’s good and what makes man good in God’s sight does not principally, consist in external acts. The kingdom of God is not meat and drink, says Saint Paul (Rm 14: 17). Whence the internal acts are as the end, the thing, that is to say, which is sought for its own sake: the external acts, through which the body is shown as God’s creature, are but as means, i.e., things directed to and existing for the sake of the end. Now when it is a question of seeking the end we do not measure our energy or resource, but the greater the end the better our endeavour. When, on the other hand, it is a question of things we only seek because of the end, we measure our energy according to the relation of the things to the end. Thus a physician restores health as much as he possibly can. He does not give as much medicine as he possibly can, but only just so much as he sees to be necessary for the attainment of health. In a similar way man puts no measure to his faith, his hope, and his charity, but the more he believes, hopes, and loves, so much the better man he is. That is why it is said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God, with thy whole heart and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole strength (Dt 6: 5). But in the external actions we must use discretion and make charity the measure of our use of them.