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Introduction to the Devout Life
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CHAPTER XI. Second Consideration—on the Excellence of Virtue.

CONSIDER that nothing save holiness and devotion can satisfy your soul in this world: behold how gracious they are; draw a contrast between each virtue and its opposite vice; how gracious patience is compared with vengeance; gentleness compared with anger; humility with pride and arrogance; liberality with avarice; charity with envy; sobriety with unsteadiness. It is one charm of all virtues that they fill the soul with untold sweetness after being practised, whereas vice leaves it harassed and ill at ease. Who would not speedily set to work and obtain such sweetness?

In the matter of evil, he who has a little is not contented, and he who has much is discontented; but he who has a little virtue is gladsome, and his gladness is for ever greater as he goes on. O devout life! you are indeed lovely, sweet and pleasant; you can soften sorrows and sweeten consolations; without you good becomes evil, pleasure is marred by anxiety and distress: verily whoso knows what you are may well say with the woman of Samaria, “Lord, give me this water,” 207207    S. John iv. 15. an aspiration often uttered by Saint Theresa and Saint Catherine of Genoa.


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