I am nearing the end of book one of the City of God, (The Conception) and chapter 18 really spoke to me. I have been troubled by my reaction to a person I really don't like, that I am in frequent contact with, and reading this chapter has helped me to realize that these trials are from God, and necessary for the salvation of my soul. I knew that already, but Mary's words to Sister Mary of Jesus enlightened it for me. I am a simple person, and often need things to be spelled out for me before I grasp the concept.
" I wish thee, O soul, to understand that to suffer injuries with equanimity and to pardon them entirely for the Lord, will be more acceptable in His eyes, than if thou choose of thy own will to do the most severe penance and shed thy blood for Him. Humble thyself before those who persecute thee, love them and pray for them from thy true heart; thereby shalt thou turn toward thee in love the heart of thy God and rise to the perfection of holiness, and thou shalt overcome hell in all things.
That great dragon, who persecutes all men, was confounded many times by my humility and meekness, and his fury could not tolerate the sight of these virtues. I gained great victories for my soul and won glorious triumphs for the exaltation of the Divinity. When any creature rose up against me, I conceived no anger toward it, for I knew in reality it was an instrument of the Most High, directed by His Providence for my special good. This knowledge and the consideration, that it was a creature of my Lord, capable of grace, excited me to love it truly with a greater fervor, and I did not rest until I could reward this benefit of persecution by obtaining for it eternal life, as far as was possible.
Strive after therefore, and labor for the imitation of that; show thyself most meek, peaceful and agreeable toward those who trouble thee; esteem them truly in thy heart, and do not take vengeance of thy Lord by taking vengeance on His instruments, nor despise the inestimable jewel of injuries. As far as lies in thee, always give good for evil, benefits for injuries, love for hate, praise for blame, blessings for malediction. Then wilt thou be a perfect daughter of thy Father, the beloved spouse of thy Lord, my friend and my most cherished daughter.
This helps me to see in a new light the trials and tribulations in my life, and I hope it will help me to deal with the daily grievances I feel towards certain people. I see that my call to pray for souls must also include the souls of those who trouble me the most.