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Saintly Quotes on Virtue

Compiled by TAN, Cultivating Virtue is a collection of wisdom from the saints themselves, offering spiritual guidance for each month of the year. Highlighted below are selections from the chapters on perfection, humility, patience, and obedience.

Perfection

Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do? Here is the true token of a soul absolutely perfect: when one has succeeded in leaving behind his own will to such a degree as no longer to seek, to aim, or to desire to do what he would will, but only what God wills. 

–St. Bernard

Humility and charity are the two master-chords: one, the lowest; the other, the highest; all the others are dependent on them. Therefore it is necessary, above all, to maintain ourselves in these two virtues; for observe well that the preservation of the whole edifice depends on the foundation and the roof. 

–St. Francis de Sales

If you wish to arrive speedily at the summit of perfection, animate yourself to a true love of shame, insults, and calumny. 

–St. Ignatius

Humility

The most powerful weapon to conquer the devil is humility. For, as he does not know at all how to employ it, neither does he know how to defend himself from it. 

–St. Vincent de Paul

One day of humble self-knowledge is a greater grace from the Lord, although it may have cost us many afflictions and trials, than many days of prayer. 

–St. Teresa 

Hold thyself as vile; rejoice to be so held by others; never exalt thyself by reason of the gifts of God, and thou shalt be perfectly humble. 

–St. Bonaventure

Patience

The way is narrow. Whoever expects to walk in it with ease must go detached from all things, leaning on the staff of the Cross; that is firmly resolving to be willing to suffer in all things for love of God. 

–St. John of the Cross

There is no more evident sign that anyone is a saint and of the number of the elect, than to see him leading a good life and at the same time a prey to desolation, suffering, and trials. 

–St. Aloysius Gonzaga

If God causes you to suffer much, it is a sign that He has great designs for you, and that He certainly intends to make you a saint. And if you wish to become a great saint, entreat Him yourself to give you much opportunity for suffering; for there is no wood better to kindle the fire of holy love than the wood of the cross, which Christ used for His own great sacrifice of boundless charity. 

–St. Ignatius of Loyola

Obedience 

Obedience is, without doubt, more meritorious than any austerity. And what greater austerity can be thought of than that of keeping one’s will constantly submissive and obedient? 

–St. Catherine of Bologna

Would you know who are true monks? Those who by mortification have brought their will under such control that they no longer have any wish except to obey the precepts and counsels of their Superior.

–St. Fulgentius

It is not enough for obedience to do what is commanded. It must be done without debate and must be looked upon as the best and most perfect thing possible, though it may seem and may even be the contrary.

–St. Philip Neri

This article is compiled from Cultivating Virtue: Self-Mastery with the Saints, which is available from TAN Books.

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