The Priesthood and Perfection by Garrigou-Lagrange - Chapter 11

Purification of Virtues is Necessary for Priestly Perfection

1. Introduction

After having considered, in the light of priestly perfection, the interrelation of the virtues, we shall now consider the progressive purification of virtues.

St. John of the Cross discussed this question at some length. In the Dark Night of the Soul he begins by dealing with the defects of beginners. These are, in particular, a kind of spiritual greed, which is an immoderate desire for sensible consolation (sentimentalism, as it is called nowadays), and a certain unconscious, secret spiritual pride. In time of aridity, these are followed by spiritual laziness or acedia. Thus the capital sins reappear, but are now centered on things of piety. This is an indication that the virtues have not been sufficiently purified from a mixture of self-love; they are not yet sufficiently strong, and they need to be purified St. John of the Cross, however, does not speak of the defects which arise later in our ministry of souls.

In order to speak in a practical way for our own time, I shall briefly discuss the failings of young priests and religious, as far as external activity is concerned, as they have been noted without any exaggeration, even with great benevolence, by many spiritual directors.

2. Defects of young priests

Superiors have a grave obligation in conscience to prepare young priests for contact with the real world, so that they will not lose part of their interior life soon after their ordination. On the contrary, they should be perfected in it to work diligently for the salvation of souls.

I will tell you what the Superior General of a certain Congregation, a good and very experienced man, wrote to me.

The difficulties to be overcome should be carefully noted. There is a great difference between the life of recollection in a seminary or convent and in the public life of the ministry. And often, young priests and religious, although studious and pious, are really immature and altogether too naive when they begin their ministry. As a result there is a grave fear that the serious difficulties of their life in the ministry will be too much for them and will produce sad results.

Generally speaking, young priests, precisely because of their youth, are not prudent; being in the state of grace they have a certain infused prudence, but they often lack acquired prudence or else they have it only in its initial stages, in embryo. A good young priest is inclined to be indiscreetly zealous; he has too much confidence in himself, although often not conscious of it, and he may even secretly live somewhat naturalistically, contusing natural ambitions with the pure desire of doing good.

At times, a young priest may even think that he already knows the spiritual ways of the Lord, and in a secret spiritual pride he thinks that he can lead souls to a high perfection. In this case the danger is more serious, because the young priest has no doubts about himself, but gives his decisions with great confidence and puts great trust in himself; when it is perhaps too late he will see the mistakes he has made.

What follows, therefore? The indiscreet zeal and the consolations which he often receives in his first assignment drive the young priest completely to the ministry and he says with ardor: "Lord, give me souls." Then by degrees he comes to regard the time of prayer, study, and recollection almost as time lost; it is easy to see what follows. His ministry becomes sterile; instead of sanctifying him and his flock, his activities actually block real progress.

Furthermore, young priests are now living in an age which feels the need to love and be loved. Saints know their own weakness; they do not trust themselves, but do what obedience dictates to them. Generally speaking, young priests are not like that. They are daring; they despise danger and trust in themselves; their cocksureness is lamentable.

They need, therefore, a special preparation for the realities of life. Directors must insist particularly on the need for a truly interior life, so that the priest may be able to give and not lose in his work for souls.

Directors must emphatically point out that external ministry cannot take the place of prayer. In our work for souls, we must give, but we cannot always be giving; we must also receive from God, and it is in prayer that we receive light and love and strength.

Directors must also note also the dangers of preaching, hearing confessions, spiritual direction, random visits, and even direction which is given in private letters on matters of conscience. Otherwise, an imprudent young priest would unconsciously and gradually lose his true and holy liberty of spirit and union with Jesus Christ. He would spend much time in trivialities and in affections, spiritual in appearance, which do not help either the director or the person being directed to advance spiritually.

Because of these different dangers, the junior priests in some Orders and Congregations are first given work in a ministry within the convent itself and only gradually and slowly is the external ministry entrusted to them. Moreover, they remain for some time under the care of a senior Father, who with wisdom and kindness leads them to full maturity and complete priestly formation. In the judgment of major Superiors, this practical problem is of great importance for the true formation of a priestly conscience. In their spiritual exercises, preachers and confessors should deal with this question gently but firmly.

From all this, it is evident that young priests still need a great purification and strengthening of the virtues. Because of the mixture of inordinate self-love, these virtues are still very imperfect and weak, in that the soul seeking God seeks itself and its own satisfaction to a great degree. This is not yet very evident in the novitiate or seminary but it appears openly in the beginning of one's ministry, with that natural activity which is not sufficiently sanctified and directed toward God. It has been that "novices have the appearance of holiness but are not really so; young priests have neither the appearance of holiness nor holiness itself; and if they do not make progress, they become useless and sterile in their apostolate."

3. How the virtues are purified

St. Thomas discusses this question when he deals with the purgative virtues and the virtues of a purified soul,1 and St. John of the Cross, in the Dark Night of the Soul especially, deals at length with both the active and passive purification of the spirit and the senses.

Theologically, this purification consists in the exercise of each virtue, infused as well as acquired, more and more in line with its formal motive, and not because of some lower motive which is associated with it. In this way, each virtue is purified from anything which weakens it to a greater or lesser degree. Humility, for example, is freed from every kind of cowardice and false humility; religion and piety from all sentimentality and spiritual greed; fortitude from all rashness and over-confidence in oneself; gentleness from every weakness and over indulgence; prudence not only from imprudence and negligence but from all utilitarianism and opportunism as well. In this way the soul finds equilibrium and harmony between and above the opposing deviations of rigorism and liberalism, for example and so there is a perfect harmony between a very strong faith in the face of error and a great charity toward the erring.

Every virtue is specified by its own proper object and formal motive. It follows that virtue is purified by looking more and more to this formal object. This is particularly important in causes for beatification, because it brings more clearly to light the heroic nature of the different virtues and the spirit in which their actions are performed.

Virtues are purified in the same way as gold is purified from its defects in a furnace, a comparison often used in Sacred Scripture. "As gold is tried in the furnace, so the Lord trieth the hearts" (Prov. 17:3). "The trial of your faith, much more precious than gold which is tried by fire" (1 Peter 1:7). Thus gradually, one believes entirely because of the authority of God who reveals; one hopes entirely because of all All-powerful helper; and one loves God because of His infinitely lovable goodness alone, without any inordinate desire for personal consolation. Similarly, Jesus says: "I am the true vine and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me . . . that bears fruit, he will purge it that it will bring forth more fruit" (John 15:1-2). This text refers to the passive purification which comes from God Himself, not that which we take on ourselves in mortification:"If thy eye scandalize thee, pluck it out and cast it from thee" (Matt. 5:29).

We shall deal with this question by considering the cardinal virtues in particular, rising from the lower to the higher, and noting how the gifts of the Holy Spirit help the virtues in this progressive purification. In this way, by considering the formal object of each virtue and then their interrelation, we shall see how the heroic nature of their virtues should be described in the lives of the servants of God.

The virtue of temperance and chastity in particular is specified by a special object which is good in itself, a moderation of the passions of the concupiscible appetite. In the case of acquired chastity, this moderation is in line with right reason and acquired prudence; in the case of infused chastity reason is illuminated by faith and infused prudence.

Infused chastity, therefore, is specified by a higher formal object than acquired chastity, and the latter is a disposition for the former somewhat in the same way as the nimbleness of a harpist's hands is a disposition for the art which is in his practical intellect. Acquired chastity gives external ease in the exercise of infused chastity.

In order to purify chastity from every imperfection, not only must the soul be freed from every sensuality that is more or less disordered and from any dangerous friendship; it must also be freed from that insensibility of the heart which is not virtue, although it has the appearance of one. This insensibility is opposed to that feeling of compassion which one ought to be capable of having.

Similarly, acquired and infused meekness are purified not only when the soul is freed from anger, but also when it is freed from that inept weakness and indulgence which is a false meekness.

In the same way, humility, which prostrates us before the greatness of God, ought to remove not only pride but that false humility also which is a hidden cowardice. In this way, humility is harmonized with magnanimity, a virtue which reasonably and in a Christian way seeks after great things when God wills it. They more and more appear as complementary virtues mutually helpful like the two curves of an arch which support a building. Each virtue is more and more purified according as it is more and more directed toward its formal object.

Similarly fortitude has its special object, good in itself, in that it is a virtue which moderates the movements of the soul when faced with anything that is frightening. It is a firmness which enables the soul, by bearing and fighting adversity, to follow the dictates of right reason. Acquired fortitude is regulated by the dictates of right reason; infused fortitude by the dictates of right reason illuminated by faith and infused prudence.

It is not sufficient, therefore, to remove all inordinate, irrational, and unchristian fear. In time of persecution, for example, one must avoid not only weakness and cowardice but also rashness, obstinacy, the hardness of fanaticism, and rigorism of every kind, all of which are opposed to the virtue of meekness.

Fortitude is gradually perfected as its formal motive overcomes more and more the two vices opposed to it and to each other: cowardice and rashness. The gift of fortitude has a part to play in the purification of the infused virtue of fortitude, since it enables us to have full confidence that we shall avoid every danger and thereby carry out any difficult task we have taken upon ourselves. The gift of fortitude completely excludes inordinate fear and surpasses infused fortitude just as the latter surpasses acquired fortitude. All three, however, find unity in action in a way analogous to the unity in action of a violinist's manual dexterity, virtue of art, and musical inspiration.

The rights of others are the object of the virtue of justice, whereby we are prompted to give each person his due. The formal object of justice is the right of another which we recognize to be something inviolably his. Our recognition of such a right may spring from natural causes alone, and in that instance the virtue of justice is one naturally acquired by us. If such a recognition, however, springs from our human reason fortified by the light of faith, the virtue will be that not of acquired, but of infused, justice.

If we are to be perfect, we must possess commutative, distributive, and legal justice. Commutative justice regulates our relations to other individuals; distributive, the relations of superior and inferior; legal, the relations of the individual to the community. Distributive justice is of special importance to one in authority, such as a father in a family or a superior in a community. All who exercise authority have the obligation to distribute rights and duties impartially and to reward or punish fairly. Legal justice urges us to obey all laws pertaining to the common good of the society in which we live.

In addition to the three types of justice described in the preceding paragraph, there is another virtue closely allied to justice and essential for its perfection. It can, in fact, be called another species of justice. This virtue, equity or epikeia, whereby we consider not only the letter of the law but its spirit and the intention of the lawgiver as well, steers us clear of legal formalism, excessive rigorism, and unreasoning stubbornness. It tempers justice with kindness and is, in fact, demanded of us by charity. Even before the time of our Lord, Aristotle had noted the necessity of justice and equity or epikeia. How much more, then, must we, who are followers of Christ, possess the virtue of justice to the highest degree and temper it by equity.

We must also remove every flaw and imperfection from the virtue of prudence, which is the "charioteer of the virtues," the right way of doing things, of acting. Again, prudence may be either a purely natural, acquired virtue, or it may be an infused virtue, whose corresponding gift is that of counsel. In either case all efforts must be made to perfect it. If we are to exercise the virtue of prudence perfectly we must possess all the moral virtues. Prudence centers upon the thousand and one practical judgments we must make each day, and it is quite obvious that such judgments cannot be good, just, meek, temperate, humble, and firm if we lack the other virtues. Our judgments are always colored by our will and feelings, and it is the job of the moral virtues to purge our will and feelings of the dross of vice which distorts our grasp of reality.

Imprudence of any kind, whether the result of negligence or haste or stubbornness, must naturally be cut out of our hearts. Anything that smacks of utilitarianism and opportunism, of selfish love or militant hatred, demands stamping out, particularly in a priest, and even more so in superiors who have the duty to guide others along the road to perfection.

In like manner we must perfect religion, or the virtue whereby we give God the worship and adoration that is His because of His supreme majesty as Creator and Lord. Religion, as a purely natural virtue, is regulated by reason; as an infused virtue, by faith and prudence. It has for its corresponding gift that of piety, whereby the Holy Spirit enables us to look upon God not only as Creator and Lord but as our Father as well.

From the virtue of religion we must cut away all irreligion, spiritual laziness, superstition, sentimentalism. The last named vice is an insidious one. It pretends to love God, but in reality it finds its source in egoism, which makes God merely a means to our own self-glorification. The purification of the virtue of religion must be not only active, on our part, but passive as well. St. John of the Cross, in the first two books of The Dark Night of the Soul, has given the classic explanation of this passive purification. We cannot emphasize too much that, particularly for a priest, the passive purification of the soul is not something unnatural, but rather the normal way to holiness.

4. Passive purification of the soul

St. John of the Cross explains the need for passive purification by considering the defects of beginners, defects in large measure remnants of the seven capital sins. Such defects, in the mind of St. John, are deviations from the road to perfection. In beginners there is often a spiritual greed or an immoderate desire for sensible consolation in prayer. In addition, the following defects are found: spiritual pride or a "better-than-thou" attitude; spiritual laziness, which follows in the wake of dryness; spiritual envy; anger; uncontrolled indignation; dejection or moodiness. About this time beginners abandon the interior life and throw themselves into an immoderate zeal for study, prompted by ambition or curiosity, or give themselves over to external activity, an activity purely natural and utterly foreign to that carried out in an apostolic, Christlike manner.

These defects can be reduced to two: spiritual sensuality and spiritual pride. From them springs spiritual laziness when sensible consolations are absent.

St. John of the Cross shows that beginners who have actively and generously fought against these defects are often passively purified by God. He writes: "Into this dark night souls begin to enter when God draws them forth from the state of beginners which is the state of those that meditate on the spiritual road and begins to set them in the state of progressives which is that of those who are already contemplatives to the end that, after passing through it, they may arrive at the state of the perfect, which is that of the Divine union of the soul with God."2 Again: "The night of the sense is common and comes to many: these are the beginners."3

Three signs which indicate the passive purification of the soul are given by St. John of the Cross. These are:

(1) "When a soul finds no pleasure or consolation in the things of God, it also fails to find it in any thing created; for, as God sets the soul in this dark night to the end that He may quench and purge its sensual desire, He allows it not to find attraction or sweetness in anything whatsoever."4 The aridity the soul then feels does not proceed from negligence or spiritual laziness. In such a state the soul sees vividly the vanity of worldly things; by the gift of knowledge it grasps a richer understanding of the deficiency of secondary causes and the gravity of sin. Melancholy may, perhaps, be the cause of such aridity of soul. But any doubt as to its cause can be solved by other signs and even from the fact that the individual in question is often in perfect health.

(2) "Memory is ordinarily centered upon God, with painful care and solicitude, thinking that it is not serving God, but is backsliding, because it finds itself without sweetness in the things of God."5 Such is an indication that the person has not been "backsliding." Ardent desire for God and proper attention to obligations, in spite of all sensible dryness in prayer, show that melancholy is not the cause of such a condition. At such a time one does not shorten the time given over to prayer under any pretext for study or active works. At this period the Holy Spirit aids and comforts the soul by His gift of fear, a filial fear of offending God by sin. The ardent love for God is evidence of the gifts of piety and fortitude which strengthen one to continue prayer despite all dryness and desolation.

(3) "The soul can no longer meditate or reflect in the imaginative sphere of sense as it was wont, however much it may of itself endeavor to do so. For God now begins to communicate Himself to it, no longer through sense . . . but by pure spirit, into which consecutive reflections enter not . . . He communicates Himself to it by an act of simple contemplation."6 Here appears the influence of the gift of knowledge which makes us realize our dependence on God: "without me you can do nothing," and the gift of piety which gives us a lively affection for God as our Father. Despite great dryness of senses, the soul, if truly generous, is purged of sentimentalism and reaches a more spiritual knowledge of God and of itself and a more ready love for God's service. In this way the virtue of religion is purified and becomes a true devotion of the will, utterly independent of sensible devotion.

During this passive purification of the senses God often allows strong temptations against chastity and patience to arise so that we may, by resisting them, gain great increase of virtue. Feeble resistance is of no avail; heroic generosity is demanded. By means of this passive purification the higher facilities of the soul obtain full mastery of the lower.

After this passive purification of the senses the soul reaches the stage of proficients, the illuminative way or the way of infused contemplation. This way is described by St. John of the Cross in the fourteenth chapter of the first book of The Dark Night of the Soul. This contemplation proceeds from a living faith strengthened by the gifts of understanding and wisdom. Faith becomes penetrating and discerning, and the soul usually advances for several years in this way. But the defects of proficients still remain. Of them St. John declares: "But there still remain in the spirit the strains of the old man. . . . These souls have likewise the hebetudo mentis and the natural roughness which every man contracts through sin, and the distraction and outward clinging of the spirit."7 They may even have a natural harshness, rooted in self-love, for their neighbor. Thus perfect justice is absent as well as the perfect spirit of faith, confidence in God, and charity; many other defects also remain, such as love for power by guiding or teaching others. The higher faculties of the soul are not yet completely subjected to God, perfectly docile to the Holy Spirit and His gifts.

An active purification must take place, along with a passive one, so that the virtues which are in the higher faculties of the soul humility and the three theological virtues can be purified from everything imperfect.

St. John of the Cross writes: "The stains of the old man [must] be removed with the soap and strong lye of the purgation of this night."8

If we continue to be generous, God brings about this purification by an infused light, the gift of understanding, whereby we see and almost experience God's might and majesty and our own misery. Even in spiritual aridity we can have a progressive contemplation of God and our own misery, which are, as St. Catherine of Siena says, the highest and lowest points of a circle which is continually growing larger. From this we experience the painful presence of the purifying God.

In this way does God purify humility, faith, hope, and charity, so that the formal motive of these virtues more and more predominates over any lower motive. We shall briefly explain this matter.

Humility is the basic virtue inasmuch as it removes the impediment of pride. As such, it may be compared to the excavations which are necessary before constructing a building: the bigger the building, the deeper must be these excavations. It may also be compared to the root of a tree: the higher the tree, the deeper must its root penetrate the ground. To a certain degree reflection on our part will give us a consciousness of our own weakness, but many illusions will remain, illusions springing from our own judgment or from secret pride. When God wants to do away with these illusions, He shows us our own weakness and misery by the gift of knowledge and understanding, thereby helping us to root out all false humility and nourish true humility. Purified in such a way we can make a good confession, not a perfunctory one, but one utterly sincere and frank. When severe divine punishment comes, we can say: "I have certainly deserved this." The humble man bows down as nothing before the infinite majesty of God: "My substance is as nothing before You."

Faith is similarly purified. It is an infused virtue by which we believe, on God's authority, the mysteries which He has revealed. But our faith often rises very little above the natural virtues of religion, or rests too much in formulae, in the letter by which supernatural mysteries are expressed and in the external aspect of the mysteries of the Incarnation, Redemption and Eucharist. It does not penetrate them sufficiently. In a similar way we believe in eternal life and the eternity of punishment. Though our belief is based on the authority of God revealing, we are helped by various secondary motives upon which we insist too much because, for example, others in our society also believe, or because we see how these mysteries are in harmony with the natural truths of religion and with our natural aspirations.

Would our faith remain firm if strong temptations rose up against it, if God at the same time showed us the profundity of the mysteries, for example, the greatness of His infinite justice toward the damned and the gratuitous nature of eternal predestination, the freedom with which He gives the gift of final perseverance? Would our faith remain firm during a great aridity of soul if we had no consolation and could not feel the conformity of our faith with our aspirations?

The formal motive of theological faith would still remain: God has revealed all these mysteries and they are to be believed as infallibly true on His authority. In this way the faith of saints was often purified and proved when the Apostles, for example, saw Jesus betrayed, scourged, crowned with thorns, condemned to death on the cross, crucified. On Calvary, also, the faith of our Lady,

St. John and St. Mary Magdalen, was proved. Similarly, the holy martyrs suffered long torments, and many saints Blessed Henry Suso, for example, for ten years, and St. Vincent de Paul9 for four endured great internal temptations against faith. Many saints resisted similar temptations in this way by asking for an actual efficacious grace to overcome them, and thus they made heroic acts of faith based on its formal object alone: God has revealed these mysteries to be believed on His authority. At the end of this crucifixion, their faith was completely purified: it was stronger, truly contemplative, and no longer consisted in formulae or in the external aspect of the mysteries, but it penetrated them. Thus saints live by faith and the supernatural life was for them, in the end, almost the only true life.

Hope needs a similar purification. It is an infused virtue by which we expect, with certain confidence, eternal life to be obtained with divine assistance. Because of His mercy and all-powerful help we ought to expect the possession of God. We do, indeed, hope in this way; but in the beginning of our spiritual life our infused hope is not easily distinguished from that human hope by which we expect certain temporal goods which perhaps may injure us. And although the formal motive of hope is the hope of God, we place too much trust in the human assistance of our protectors and friends, in our virtues, in our work which is proceeding quite satisfactorily.

But if God took away all the temporal goods which we expected, and at the same time our secondary motives of confidence, the help of our friends, the esteem of our superiors, if He showed us our weakness rather than our strength, if at the same time temptations rose against hope, would our hope remain firm, because of that one motive: "God does not order us to do impossible things and He does not abandon the person who calls on Him; He is always the merciful God and the all-powerful helper"? In this way, the hope of saints has been purified. For example, the devil used to say to St. Catherine of Siena: "Of what use are all your mortifications? If you have been predestined you will be saved without them; if you have not been predestined even with them you will be damned." And then the devil left her. Sometimes, similar temptations come in one's last agony, and that is why we should pray very much for those who are in agony, by saying the special prayers for the visitation of the sick and the commendation of a soul to God.

Finally, charity is purified in a similar way. It is a virtue by which we love God for Himself, as a friend, to be loved above all things by reason of His infinite goodness. For God's sake we love our neighbor so that he may glorify God now and forever. We do indeed love God and our neighbor in this way, but often with a very notable mixture of imperfection, springing from a love of ourselves. We even love God because of the consolation which we receive from Him, and our neighbor because of the gratitude he shows us, or because of the various ways in which he can be useful to us.

When God wishes to lead the souls of His children to pure love, for several months He gradually removes all consolation, not only sensible but spiritual also. Similarly, He permits indifference and sometimes even ingratitude on the part of our neighbor. It seems that we can do no good.

Then God must be loved for the true motive because He is infinitely good in Himself, infinitely better than all the benefits which He bestows. And our neighbor must similarly be loved for God's sake, because he is a son of God or can yet become a son of God.

Thus the charity of St. Therese of the Infant Jesus was purified at the end of her life from every mixture of self-love. The sweetness of the love of God is then united to fortitude of soul which perseveres in dryness, even is spiritual. This leads to the love of the cross in a life of reparation for the conversion of sinners, after the example of the suffering Christ and His sorrowing Mother.

5. Conclusion

From all this, it appears clearly enough that virtues are purified when their proper object, with their own formal motive, dominates more and more. Thus the three formal motives of the three theological virtues appear in the night of the spirit as three stars of the first magnitude. These are: the First Truth or the Authority of God revealing; Mercy and Omnipotence helping us; and Infinite Goodness to be loved above everything else.

This passive purification is, as St. John of the Cross says, required for the full perfection of the Christian life, and it leads to an infused contemplation of the mysteries of faith and intimate union with God.

It is evident that in the lives of the servants of God we generally find two periods, like two tunnels, the dark night of the senses and the dark night of the spirit. Sometimes, it is difficult to say historically how souls who were tried in this darkness overcame strong temptations. But if they have passed out from the first night with a sufficiently clear heroicity of virtue, and if they have left the second night with an even more manifest heroism, it is a sign that they have not lost their way in these nights; or if they have lost it at any moment like Peter during the passion when he denied our Lord Providence has raised them up so that they might continue the ascent generously to the end. The obscurity of these two periods, therefore, is not an objection against, but rather becomes an argument for, heroism, because we have heroism only when there has been a battle and victory over great temptations, which, in these two periods particularly, are caused by the devil. The soul conquers him only when it has passed through these two storms and acquired merit in proportion. Thus, in the causes for beatification the interior sufferings of servants of God can be brought to light, so that there will arise a greater understanding of how these sufferings lead in a wonderful way to purification and sanctity, according to the words of St. Paul: To them that love God, all things work together unto good, to such as, according to his purpose, are called to he saints (Rom. 8:28).


1. See S.T., 1-2, q. 61, a. 5.

2. St. John of the Cross, The Dark Night of the Soul, Book 1, Chapter 1, in Volume I of The Complete Works of St. John of the Cross, translated and edited by E. Allison Peers, (revised ed Westminster, Md.: The Newman Press, 1953), p. 300. All references to the works of St. John are to the Peers' translation.

3. Ibid., p. 349.

4. Ibid., p. 352.

5. I bid., p. 352.

6. Ibid., p. 355.

7. Ibid., p. 376.

8. Ibid., p. 376.

9. St. Vincent de Paul generously accepted a special trial in order to free a certain professor of theology from strong temptations against the faith. And then he himself was strongly tempted for four years in the same way. The temptations against faith were so great that he wrote the creed on a chart which he put on his breast, underneath his clothes. When the temptations became exceptionally strong, St. Vincent would lay the creed next his heart as a profession of faith. For four years he made heroic acts of this virtue and eventually it was very much strengthened and purified from every imperfection. Thus his faith became more contemplative, penetrating, and discerning; even amid the disturbances of life in the world he preserved a great interior life, which radiated and reached that rare contemplation of the Mystical Body of Christ, in which he constantly saw Jesus in abandoned children, in captives, in those who were in prison.