THE PRACTICE OF THE LOVE OF JESUS CHRIST
V.-THE MEANS OF AVOIDING LUKEWARMNESS AND ATTAINING PERFECTION
The first resolution must be to make every effort, and to die rather than commit any deliberate sin whatever, however small it may be. It is true that all our endeavours, without the Divine assistance, cannot enable us to vanquish temptations; but God wishes us on our part frequently to use this violence with ourselves, because then He will afterwards supply us with His grace, will succour our weakness, and enable us to gain the victory. This resolution removes from us every obstacle to our going forward, and at the same time gives us great courage, because it affords us an assurance of being in the grace of God. St. Francis of Sales writes: “The best security we can possess in this world of being in the grace of God, consists not indeed in feeling that we have His love, but in a pure and irrevocable abandonment of our entire being into His hands, and in the firm resolution of never consenting to sin, either great or small.” This is what is meant by being of a delicate conscience. Be it observed that it is one thing to be of a delicate conscience, and another to be of a scrupulous conscience. To be of a delicate conscience is requisite to become a saint; but to be scrupulous is a defect, and does harm; and on this account we must obey our directors, and rise above scruples, which are nothing else but vain and unreasonable alarms.
Hence it is necessary to resolve on choosing the best; not only what is agreeable to God, but what is most agreeable to Him, without any reserve. St. Francis of Sales says: “We must start with a strong and constant resolution to give ourselves wholly to God, and protest to Him that for the future we wish to be His without any reserve, and then we must afterwards often renew this same resolution.” St. Andrew Avellini made a vow to advance daily in perfection. It is not necessary (or every one who wishes to become a saint to make it the matter of a vow); but he must endeavour every day to make some steps forward in perfection. St. Laurence Justinian has written: “When a person is really making progress, he feels in himself continual desire of advancing; and the more he improves in perfection, the more this desire increases; because as his interior light increases each day more and more, he seems to himself always to be wanting in every virtue, and to be doing no good at all; and if, perchance, he is aware of some good he does, it always appears to him very imperfect, and. he makes small account of it. The consequence is, he is continually labouring to acquire perfection without ever feeling wearied.”