MEDITATION OF THE DAY
What It Means to Keep the Tradition
If you ask me how can we know whether a virtue is real, and whether it will lead us to heaven, the answer is: that in order to make an action pleasing to God, the following conditions must be fulfilled: First, the action should be sincere and perfect; second, it should be humble and without selfishness; third, it should be steadfast and enduring. If these conditions are found in everything you do, then you may be sure that you are working for heaven.
We have said that an action must be sincere; it is not sufficient that it shows itself only outwardly. It must come from our hearts, and love of God must be its prime cause and its beginning, for Saint Gregory tells us that everything which God requires of us should be founded on the love which we owe him. The action, therefore, should be nothing more than a sort of medium to express our intention…. We say, further, our virtue should be perfect. That means, it is not sufficient for us to practice only those certain virtues to which we may be naturally inclined, but we should embrace them all; that is to say, all virtues the practice of which is possible for our state. Saint Paul says that we should prepare a superabundant provision of all kinds of good works for our salvation.
We said also that our virtue should be humble and free from selfishness. Jesus Christ tells us that we should never perform our actions in order that we may be praised by men…. Moreover, I must tell you that it is not the size and greatness of deeds which give them merit, but the pure intention with which they are undertaken. The Gospel gives us a beautiful example of this. The Evangelist Saint Mark relates that Jesus Christ, on entering the Temple one day, beheld how the people cast money into the receptacle for offering, and he saw that many that were rich cast in much. Then he saw how a poor widow approached the receptacle humbly, and cast in two mites…. A beautiful example which teaches us with what pure intentions and with what humility we should perform all our actions….
We have said, the third necessary condition for true virtue is perseverance. We must not be satisfied to do good for a certain length of time…. We must persevere until death if we wish to be saved. Saint Paul says that we must be firm and steadfast in the service of God, and that we should work at the salvation of our souls every day of our lives.
Saint John Vianney
Saint John Vianney, the Curé of Ars († 1859), is the patron of priests. [From Sermons for the Sundays and Feasts of the Year. Published by The Neumann Press, 1901, Long Prairie, MN.]