J M J
THE PRACTICE OF VIRTUES
A religious should not only try to be perfect in a general way but she should concentrate on a specific virtue which God demands of her, go out of her way to acquire it, and practice it.
The Saints tried to practice all the virtues; however, they had one predominant one for which they distinguished themselves. And so: Saint John the Baptist was known for his severe penances; Saint Francis, for his poverty; Saint Augustine, for his love of God; Saint Vincent de Paul for his love of neighbor; and Saint Francis de Sales for his gentleness.
As I meditated on what virtue God demands of me, I thought of one for which God always admonishes me, and that is, the love of neighbor, meekness, gentleness, understanding of others, forgetfulness of self, equanimity of disposition and a precise performance of my duties. If Jesus would allow me to carry out that to which he is drawing me, it will make me very happy. I have a special liking for that inconspicuously virtuous life because, after all, that is the imitation of Jesus and Mary in Nazareth. I am so very much drawn to that kind of life that even though I do not practice it, and perhaps will not even begin, I would counsel and encourage every sister to love it and practice it.
Really, Lord (forgive me for speaking so rudely to you) I am going to complain on you for tormenting me. Just as you reproached Saul, so you reproach me that I do not do that what you inspire me to do or what you demand of me; however, you do not give me neither the strength nor the means to do it. Saul was told to go to Ananias from whom he would find out what to do, but you leave me to my own weakness and you allow temptations against the virtue, which I should practice, to torture me like never before. I must say with Saint Paul that I do, not the good I will to do, but the evil I do not intend.
I am supposed to practice love of neighbor and gentleness but I cannot even manage to make a resolution because what is the use of making the most beautiful promises when I know that I will not keep them. What could I expect to do later on, when there will be so many opportunities, and when I return again to a whirlwind of duties when, now, that I am alone, I am so angry, so annoyed; everything I look at aggravates me – the sisters, their prayers, their behavior, even the food they give me. Once when I was praying I threw down my book. I want to run from the choir because I feel like scolding everyone and quarreling about everything. I could even hurt someone badly.
This contradiction of emotions, understanding and desires is really a martyrdom. You see, O Lord, that I do not excuse myself from anything; that I am ready to do anything. Please relieve me of this condition because this constant interior battle is depleting me of my strength and I am dizzy. Since you do not send me any consolations, why do you yet allow me to constantly hurt you?