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Long-standing custom will make resistance, but by a better habit shall it be subdued. (Imitation, B. III., c. XII.)

To him who shall overcome, I will grant to sit with me in my throne, as I also have overcome. (Apocalypse, c. III., v. 21.)

1. We should not undertake to perfect ourselves upon all points at once; resolutions as to details ought to be made and carried out one by one, directing them first against our predominant passion.

2. By a predominant passion we mean the source of that sin to which we oftenest yield and from which spring the greater number of our faults.

3. In order to attack it successfully it is essential to make use of strategy. It must be approached little by little, besieged with great caution as if it were the stronghold of an 179 enemy, and the outposts taken one after another.

4. For example, if your ruling passion be anger, simply propose to yourself in the beginning never to speak when you feel irritated. Renew this resolution two or three times during the day and ask God’s pardon for every time you have failed against it.

5. When the results of this first resolution shall have become a habit, so that you no longer have any difficulty in keeping it, you can take a step forward. Propose, for instance, to repress promptly every thought capable of agitating you, or of arousing interior anger; afterwards you can adopt the practice of meeting without annoyance persons who are naturally repugnant to you; then of being able to treat with especial kindness those of whom you have reason to complain. Finally, you will learn to see in all things, even in those most painful to nature, the will of God offering you opportunities to acquire merit; and in those who cause you suffering, only the instruments of this same merciful providence. You will then no longer think of repulsing or bewailing them, but will bless and thank your divine Saviour for having chosen 180 you to bear with Him the burden of His cross, and for deigning to hold to your lips the precious chalice of His passion.

6. Some saints recommend us to make an act of hope or love or to perform some act of mortification when we discover that we have failed to keep our resolutions. This practice is good, but if you adopt it do not consider it of obligation nor bind yourself so strictly to it as to suppose you have committed a sin when you neglect it.

7. It is by this progressive method that you can at length succeed in entirely overcoming your passions, and will be able to acquire the virtues you lack. Always begin with what is easiest. Choose at first external acts over which the will has greater control, and in time you can advance from these, little by little, to the most interior and difficult details of the spiritual life.

8. Resolutions of too general a character, such as, for example, to be always moderate in speech, always patient, chaste, peaceable and the like, ordinarily do not amount to much and sometimes to nothing at all.

9. To undertake little at a time, and to pursue this little with perseverance until one has 181 by degrees brought it to perfection, is a common rule of human prudence. The saints particularly recommend us to apply it to the subject of our resolutions.

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