First of all, we must not stop to see what others do,
and how they do it,
for there are very few
who truly sanctify themselves.
‘Nothing can be perfect’,
says Saint Bernard,
‘which is not in a class by itself.’
If we imitate the mass of men,
we shall be what they are in the mass,
that is, very imperfect.
Neither can the sins of our past life prevent us from acquiring sanctification,
if we sincerely desire it.
‘For’, says Saint Paul,
‘for those who love God,
everything turns to good account’,
‘everything, even sin’,
adds Saint Augustine.
Now, our sins contribute
to our sanctification in this sense,
that we cannot recall them
without being moved to humility
and gratitude at the view of God’s goodness to us,
who have so gravely offended Him.
‘No, no’, said Saint Teresa,
‘let us not listen to the demon,
who represents to us our desires
as so many acts of pride,
as vain attempts to imitate the saints!
For how advantageous it is to the soul
to excite itself thus to great things!
even if at the moment it has not strength
to realise its pious ambitions,
it has at least aroused a generous impulse,
and nothing remains but to march forward.
(L S 1905)