Sin’s near occasion or Virtue’s opportunity?
There was a passage in Magnificat for March 5th written by Father Lorenzo Scupoli who died in 1610. It has been on my mind since I read it. Here is in part what he said
If you wish always to press forward on the path of virtue without stopping, you should pay great attention to things which may serve as chances for acquiring virtue….those are ill-advised who do everything in their power to avoid any kind of obstacles….For example, if you wish to gain the habit of patience, you should not avoid the people, things and circumstances which particularly try your patience. Meet them with a good will and the resolve to submit to their unpleasant effect on you, but at the same time prepare yourself to suffer them with unshakeable calmness of spirit. If you do not act thus, you will never learn patience.
I had always considered the avoiding of those that can be avoided who try one’s patience as the greater part of valor – as avoiding a near occasion of sin. However, Father says that is not valor – it is not virtue building.
The crux of the matter seems to be the attitude and desire with which one approaches circumstances. For someone not committed to acquiring virtue and seeing the difficult circumstance at hand, the person, place or thing becomes an occasion of sin. But if one approaches the same circumstance with good will, then it becomes an opportunity of grace and to grow in virtue.
Can we all see where our once thought valor now is seen as an avoidance of opportunity? There may be a lot of attitude adjustment for us.
Jezu, ufam Tobie.