We all want to adopt good habits and do away with the bad ones. But there’s a common pitfall that besets many of us.
All too often, when we’ve made a decision to improve on something, we say to ourselves, “I will begin first thing tomorrow,” or “I will start this Monday morning,” or “I’ll work on this every Friday.”
This type of attitude toward sin or any other bad habit can have the opposite effect from the one we intend.
Fr. Lorenzo Scupoli explains in his spiritual classic, The Spiritual Combat, “In your endeavors after holiness, never, be persuaded to use such spiritual exercises as to formally select different virtues for different days of the week, setting apart one for the attainment of each … Never set a fixed time, such as days, or weeks, or years, for the attainment of any virtue.”
Instead, Scupoli advises, the attainment of virtue must start in the present moment.
[As] a soldier just enlisted, fight your way continually towards the summit of perfection. Never stand still, even for a moment; for to stand still in the way of virtue and perfection is not to regain breath or courage, but to fall back, or to grow feebler than before … Therefore be careful, be fervent, be watchful, that you neglect not the slightest opportunity of exercising any virtue. Love all such occasions, and especially those which are attended with the greatest difficulty, because habits are quickest formed and deepest rooted when the difficulties to be overcome are greatest; love those occasions, therefore, which present such difficulties.
St. Josemaria Escriva put it more plainly.
Don’t wait until the New Year to make your resolutions. Every day is a good day to make good decisions. Hodie, nunc! — Today, now!
So, if you want to be a good person and grow in virtue, start NOW!
The strategy of the devil when we are progressing in holiness
The first two weapons in spiritual combat