CHAPTER XXIV. All Evil Inclinations must be purged away.
FURTHERMORE, my daughter, we have certain natural inclinations, which are not strictly speaking either mortal or venial sins,
but rather imperfections; and the acts in which they take shape, failings and deficiencies. Thus S. Jerome says that S. Paula
had so strong a tendency to excessive sorrow, that when she lost her husband and children she nearly died of grief: that was
not a sin, but an imperfection, since it did not depend upon her wish and will. Some people are
naturally easy, some oppositions; some are indisposed to accept other men’s opinions, some naturally disposed to be cross,
some to be affectionate—in short, there is hardly any one in whom some such imperfections do not exist. Now, although they
be natural and instinctive in each person, they may be remedied and corrected, or even eradicated, by cultivating the reverse
disposition. And this, my child, must be done. Gardeners have found how to make the bitter almond tree bear sweet
fruit, by grafting the juice of the latter upon it, why should we not purge out our perverse dispositions and infuse such
as are good? There is no disposition so good but it may be made bad by dint of vicious habits, and neither is there any natural
disposition so perverse but that it may be conquered and overcome by God’s Grace primarily, and then by our earnest diligent
endeavour. I shall therefore now proceed to give you counsels and suggest practices by which you may purify your soul from
all dangerous affections and imperfections, and from all tendencies to venial sin, thereby strengthening yourself more and
more against mortal sin. May God give you grace to use them.