Book Talk Tuesday, Introduction to the Devout Life, Part 4, Chapter 8

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CHAPTER VIII. How to resist Minor Temptations.

WHILE it is right to resist great temptations with invincible courage,
and all such victories will be most valuable, still there is perhaps
more absolute profit to our souls in resisting little ones. For
although the greater temptations exceed in power, there are so
infinitely more in number of little temptations, that a victory over
them is fully as important as over the greater but rarer ones. No one
will question but that wolves and bears are more dangerous than flies,
but they do not worry and annoy us, or try our patience as these do.
While is not a hard thing to abstain from murder, but it is very
difficult to avoid all passing fits of anger, which assail us at every
moment. A man or woman can easily keep from adultery, but it is less
easy to abstain from all words and glances which are disloyal. While is
easy to keep from stealing another man’s goods, but often difficult to
resist coveting them; easy to avoid bearing false witness in direct
judgment, difficult to be perfectly truthful in conversation; easy to
refrain from getting drunk, difficult to be absolutely sober; easy not
to wish for a neighbour’s death, difficult not to wish anything
contrary to his interests; easy to keep from slander, difficult to
avoid all contempt.

In short, all these minor temptations to anger, suspicion, jealousy,
envy, levity, vanity, duplicity, affectation, foolish thoughts, and the
like, are a perpetual trial even to those who are most devout and most
resolute; and therefore, my daughter, we ought carefully and diligently
to prepare for this warfare. Be assured that every victory won over
these little foes is as a precious stone in the crown of glory which
God prepares for us in Paradise. So, while awaiting and making ready
for a stedfast and brave resistance to great temptations should they
come, let us not fail diligently to fight against these meaner, weaker