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“Treat Yo’self!”: When small indulgences take over

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Elizabeth Scalia - published on 03/13/17

The repetition of sins – even venial ones – engenders vices, among which are the capital sins.

–Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1876

We must take care of little faults: for he who once begins to go backward, and to make light of such defects, brings a sort of grossness over his conscience, and then goes wrong altogether.

–Saint Philip Neri

Be gentle to all, and firm with yourself.

–Saint Teresa of Avila

Do not try to excuse your faults; try to correct them.

–Saint John Bosco

Truly it is an evil to be full of faults; but it is a still greater evil to be full of them and to be unwilling to recognize them, since that is to add the further fault of a voluntary illusion.

–Blaise Pascal

A single bad book will be sufficient to cause the destruction of an entire monastery.

–St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori

Self-control and strenuous effort curb desire; stillness and intense longing for God wither it.

–St. Thalassios the Libyan

How do we break away from the sin or habit of over-treating ourselves?

Take the advice of Saint Philip Neri: One of the reasons you keep seeing his name pop up is because Philip Neri had a knack for giving great advice in succinct terms, and one thing he continually counseled visitors to his Oratory churches and his confessional was this: “Remember to read spiritual books, especially the Lives of the Saints.”

To get good from reading the Lives of the Saints, and other spiritual books, we ought not to read out of curiosity, or skimmingly, but with pauses; and when we feel ourselves warmed, we ought not to pass on, but to stop and follow up the spirit which is stirring in us, and when we feel it no longer, then to pursue our reading.

What he is describing here is not simply reading about saints but using the examples of their lives, their own discoveries as they drew nearer to spiritual perfection, and their insights as a kind of lectio divina, which means – simply put – to notice when you feel jolted or intrigued by something you have read, accept the feeling as a prompting of the Holy Spirit and give yourself over to really thinking about the idea or biographical episode before you.

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