| Outdoing Oneself | Fighting the Good Fight | Time for Testing | Of Patience and Fresh Starts |

Outdoing Oneself

"Qui ... iustus [est] iustitiam faciat adhuc; et sanctus sanctificetur adhuc." "Let ... the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy." (Rev 22:11)

"But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind, I strain forward to what is before, I press on towards the goal, to the prize of God's heavenly call in Christ Jesus." (Phil 3:14)

"We can never be content with what we are doing to serve God, just as an artist is never satisfied with the painting or statue he is working on. Everyone tells him how marvellous it is, but he thinks: 'No. It isn't quite right. I wanted it to be better.' This is how we should feel.
    "Moreover, the Lord has given us so much. He has a right to the very best from us--and we must go at his pace." (St Josemaria, Forge 385)

"Beatus vir, qui suffert tentationem, quia, cum probatus fuerit, accipiet coronam vitae, quam repromisit Deus diligentibus se." "Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been tried, he will receive the crown of life which God has promised to those who love him."(James 1:12)

"You say yes, you are determined to follow Christ.
    "All right. Then walk at his pace, not at your own." (St Josemaria, Forge 531)

Pointers from worldly wisdom: "Anytime you stop striving to get better, you're bound to get worse. There's no such thing in life as simply holding on to what you've got. ... Excellence is never having learned enough. A few seasons in competitive sports teaches you how success can lull people. Teams who stay on top know different ... and they live it: Excellence is the gradual result of always wanting to do better." (Pat Riley, The Winner Within, pp 149,160-161)

"Collabora sicut bonus miles Christi Iesu. ... si autem certat quis agone, non coronatur nisi legitime certaverit. Laborantem agricolam oportet primum de fructibus accipere." "Take your share of suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. ... An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops." (II Tim 2:3,5-6)

Fighting the Good Fight

"Ait autem illi quidam: 'Domine, pauci sunt, qui salvantur?' Ipse autem dixit ad illos: 'Contendite intrare per angustam portam, quia multi, dico vobis, quaerent intrare et non poterunt.'" "'Lord, will only a few be saved?'... 'Fight your way in at the narrow door; I tell you, there are many who will try and will not be able to enter.'" (Lk 13:23-24 Knox Translation)

"Nescitis quod hi, qui in stadio currunt, omnes quidem currunt, sed unus accipit bravium? Sic currite, ut comprehendatis. Omnis autem, qui in agone contendit, ab omnibus se abstinet; et illi quidem, ut corruptibilem coronam accipiant, nos autem incorruptam. Ego igitur sic curro non quasi in incertum, sic pugno non quasi aerem verberans; sed castigo corpus meum et in servitutem redigo, ne forte, cum aliis praedicaverim, ipse reprobus efficiar." "You know well enough that when men run in a race, the race is for all, but the prize for one; run then for victory. Every athlete must keep all his appetites under control; and he does it to win a crown that fades, whereas ours is imperishable! So I do not run my course like a man in doubt of his goal; I do not fight my battle like a man who wastes his blows on the air. I buffet my own body and make it my slave; or I, who have preached to others, may myself be rejected as worthless." (I Cor 9:24-27 Knox Translation)

"Per patientiam curramus propositum nobis certamen, aspicientes in ducem fidei et consummatorem Iesum, qui pro gaudio sibi proposito sustinuit crucem, confusione contempta, atque in dextera throni Dei sedet. Recogitate enim eum, qui talem sustinuit a peccatoribus adversum semetipsum contradictionem, ut ne fatigemini animis vestris deficientes. Nondum usque ad sanguinem restitistis adversus peccatum repugnantes" "... Let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood." (Heb 12:1-4)

"Conquer yourself each day ..." (St Josemaria, The Way 191)

"Grow in the face of obstacles! The grace of our Lord will not be lacking: 'inter medium montium pertransibunt aquae!'" (St Josemaria, The Way 12)

"Non est vir fortis pro Deo laborans, cui non crescit animus in ipsa rerum difficultate, etiam si aliquando corpus dilanietur." (Paraphrase by Bishop Alvaro del Portillo, from St Bernard of Clarival)

"The body must be given a little less than it needs, otherwise it turns traitor." (St Josemaria, The Way 196)

Time for Testing

"On the voyages of our spiritual life and apostolate, the Lord allows his apostles to experience times when things go well, and the elements, our own sins and the difficulties of our surroundings, are stilled. The soul enjoys the beauty and power of God within itself and in others, and it is filled with happiness, peace and security in its faith, though this is stilll viable to waver. Particularly at the beginning of the spiritual life, the Lord usually leads us over calmer seas, even for many years, so as to confirm us in our initial decision. And he does not demand from us what we cannot give at the beginning, since we are quasi modo geniti infantes (I Pt 2:2), like newborn babes." (St Josemaria, Letter 24 March 1931, no 5)

"In those periods when everything in your spiritual life is calm, be like the engineers who dam up the clean water which flows in abundance down the mountainside, so that when the drought comes they have a good reserve for drinking and for use in watering the fields and in generating electricity, light and power. Now that everything is so very clear and you feel in your heart the desire to be faithful, firmly resolve to remember this clarity and to call upon our Mother Mary if the Lord ever allows us to think that we are surrounded by darkness." (St Josemaria, Letter 24 March 1931, no 42)

"In igne probatur aurum et argentum, homines vero receptibiles in camino humiliationis." "For gold is tested in fire, and acceptable men in the furnace of humiliation." (Sir 2:5)

"If at any time the going gets harder in our interior struggle, that will be a good moment to show that our love is in earnest." (St Josemaria, Forge 445)

Of Patience and Fresh Starts

"Patientes igitur estote, fratres, usque ad adventum Domini. Ecce agricola exspectat pretiosum fructum terrae, patienter ferens, donec accipiat imbrem temporaneum et serotinum. Patientes estote, et vos, confirmate corda vestra, quoniam adventus Domini appropinquavit." "Be patient, therefore, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. Behold, the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient over it until it receives the early and the late rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand." (James 5:7-8)

"Habemus autem thesaurum istum in vasis fictilibus, ut sublimitas sit virtutis Dei et non ex nobis." "But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, to show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us." (II Cor 4:7)

"When a soldier who is fighting is wounded or is thrown back a little, no one is so demanding or so ignorant about things relating to war to think that that is a crime. The only ones who do not get wounded are those who do not fight; those who launch themselves with ardor against the enemy are those who receive the blows." (St John Chrysostom, Ad Theod. Laps.)

"Fidelis autem Deus, qui non patietur vos tentari super id quod potestis, sed faciet cum tentatione etiam proventum, ut possitis sustinere." "God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it." (I Cor 10:13)

"My son, let us not have any false illusions about this. You and I--I'll never tire of repeating it--will always have to struggle, always, until the end of our lives. We will thus come to love peace, and we will spread peace around us, and we will receive our everlasting reward." (St Josemaria, Forge 429b)

"Do not think that there will come a time when everything will be easy. I'm telling you this from my own experience. You will need to go on struggling, even more forcefully, because the devil appears under the most deceptive disguises." (St Josemaria, Memoria del Beato Josemaria, p 27)

"Our imperfection will accompany us until the grave. We cannot walk without touching the ground. It is important not to fall and to soil oneself, but neither should we think of flying because we are still newly-hatched chicks and we still don't have wings." (St Francis de Sales, Letter 847)

"Do not be ashamed to discover in your heart the fomes peccati--the inclination to evil, which will be with you as long as you live, for nobody is free from this burden.
    "Do not be ashamed, for the all-powerful and merciful Lord has given us all the means we need for overcoming this inclination: the Sacraments, a life of piety and sanctified work."
    "Persevere in using these means, ever ready to begin again and again without getting discouraged." (St Josemaria, Forge 119)

Worldly wisdom (I): "Continuous success builds arrogance and complacency. I want people who love the battlefield, people willing to go to the wall." (H. Ross Perot)

Worldly wisdom (II): "Many career experts tout failure as the castor oil of success. The idea isn't to fling yourself into certain disaster in order to be mystically rewarded with triumph ... [or] that rational people should wish for calamity. ... But a stiff dose of misfortune is often a painfully effective tutor. It 'teaches you something about your strength and acquaints you with your limitations. That's an important part of maturity' (Kuzhner, When Bad Things Happen to Good People)." (Sussman, Don't Fear Failure, RD July 1990)

"Lord, here I am beginning, beginning, always just beginning! I will try, however, to push forward each day with all my heart." (St Josemaria, Forge 378)

"Spiritual life is--and I repeat this again and again, on purpose--a constant beginning and beginning again.
    "Beginning again? Yes. Everytime you make an act of contrition--and you should make many everyday--you begin again, because you offer a new love to God." (St Josemaria, Forge 384)