The Habit of Perfection

Observe that perfection is not acquired by sitting with our arms folded, but it is necessary to work in earnest, in order to conquer ourselves and to bring ourselves to live, not according to our inclinations and passions, but according to reason, our Rule, and obedience. -St. Francis de Sales

Plutarch relates of Lycurgus that he once took two puppies of the same litter, and trained up one in the kitchen and the other to hunting. When they were grown , he took them into the forum, where he threw down some fish-bones and at the same time let loose a hare. The first immediately began to gnaw the bones, while the other set off in pursuit of the hare. Then Lycurgus commanded silence, and, turning to the people, said: “Do you see this? These two dogs are of the same breed, yet they are not inclined to the same thing, but each to that which he has been accustomed to. So true is it that habit ends in overcoming even the most violent inclinations of nature.”

Text from A Year With the Saints (New York: P.J. Kenedy & Sons, 1891).

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