There are also weak souls that find everywhere in the world proximate occasions for offending God mortally, and for whom religion would be a secure haven against tempests, an escape after spiritual shipwreck. In reference to this matter, we read as follows in St. Liguori : " If one thought that, by remaining in the world, he would lose his soul, either because he has experience of his weakness amid the dangers of the world, or because he does not find there the assistance that the religious state offers, he could not be excused from grievous sin were he to remain in the world, since he thereby would put himself in serious danger of losing his soul."
Although a reasonable cause suffices for putting off the execution of such a vow, yet care is to be taken lest delays should bring on entire faithlessness, and we should fear the sins that may be committed in the world. A long delay, having no excuse in its favor, would be grievously sinful. He who vowed to enter religion, but has not succeeded in gaining admission, though he took all the necessary steps to secure it, is freed from the obligation of his vow, provided he has no hope of gaining admission at some future day.
"If we knew a place unhealthy and subject to pestilence, would we not withdraw our children from it, without being stopped by the riches that might be heaped up in it, or by the fact that their health had not as yet suffered, and might, perhaps, be secure in it from all danger? And yet, now that so deadly a contagion has overspread everything, not only are we the first to push these same children into the chasm, but we even drive away as impostors those who would fain keep them back from destruction."
What are you doing under the paternal roof? ...even if your father were to throw himself across the threshold of your house, step over the obstacle, and with unquivering eye rush to take your place under the standard of the cross. Our heart is not of iron, nor are our feelings dead ; your grandmother, your tutor, who, next to your father, has a claim on your filial affection, exclaim, 'Wait a while until we are dead ; bury us before you go'--love for God and fear of hell easily break all chains.O solitude, all spangled with the flowers of Jesus Christ! O solitude, wherein are shaped the stones that build up the city of the great King! Blessed retreat where one enjoys familiarity with God ! Brother dear, what are you doing in the world, which is so far less than you? How long more shall the paternal roof shelter your head ? Will you tarry much longer in the smoky prison of cities ? Do you fear hardship? And what athlete was ever crowned without a struggle ? It is my love for you, O brother ! that has urged me to say these things, to the end that, on judgment-day, you may share the glory of those who now live amid the holy rigors of penance."
But there is nothing more striking than the example of St. Bernard. The details are taken from the best historians of his admirable life. This saint in the flower of his youth, at
the age of twenty, began to feel the impulse of grace drawing to retirement from the busy
world. He not only triumphed over the opposition of his family, but drew to his purpose
his uncle and his brothers, and took with him to Citeaux thirty of the noblest gentlemen
of his country.
St. Liguori: In the world it would be difficult for you to keep yourself in the grace of God. What I say to you, I repeat to all young women who come to ask my advice. I always remind them that, such is the corruption of the world, they will meet in it a thousand hindrances to their salvation. You should then fear to abandon Christ for the world.
"Consider that our eternal salvation is not only the greatest, but the only business we have,to which we ought to apply ourselves entirely lest we should do it ill."
"Salvation is our great and chief business; now a man's chief business takes up all his thoughts, andhardly gives him time to think of any other; and if this succeeds he comforts himself for the miscarriage of the rest." - Fr. Jean Croiset
"In this important matter [salvation], a sensible man is struck more strongly by the slightest doubt of the risk he runs than by the evidence of total ruin in other affairs in which the soul is not involved." - St. Leonard de Port-Maurice
"If anyone affirms that one can reach perfection without practicing exterior mortification, do not believe him; and even though he confirm this assertion by working miracles, know that his contentions are nothing but illusions." - St. John of the Cross
"A penitent is a man...who refuses himself the most innocent pleasures, because he had formerly indulged in the most criminal." -Tertullian
"...a religious and pious soul in the midst of the world, is always a singularity approaching to a miracle."
"... It is the multitude nevertheless, who tremble not. There is only a small number of just, which operates apart its salvation, with fear and trembling; all the rest are tranquil."
"...in order to merit salvation, you must distinguish yourself from the rest; in the midst of the world, lead a life to the glory of God, and resemble not the multitude."
"Behold the fruit which you ought to reap from this discourse; live apart; think, without ceasing, that the great number work their own destruction; regard as nothing all customs of the earth, unless authorized by the law of God; and remember, that holy men have, in all ages, been looked upon as singular."