Great virtues are rare: the occasions for them are very rare; and when they do occur, we are prepared for them, we are excited by the grandeur of the sacrifice, we are supported either by the splendour of the deed in the eyes of the world or by the self-complacency that we experience from the performance of an uncommon action. Little things are unforeseen; they return every moment; they come in contact with our pride, our indolence, our haughtiness, our readiness to take offence; they contradict our inclinations perpetually. We would much rather make certain great sacrifices to God, however violent and painful they might be, upon condition that we should be rewarded by liberty to follow our own desires and habits in the detail of life. It is, however, only by fidelity in little things that a true and constant love to God can be distinguished from a passing fervour of spirit. [. . . What God desires] is exercised more frequently, and in a way that tries us more severely, on common than on great occasions.
-François de la Mothe Fénelon (1651-1715). Letters and reflections, English translation (1906) pp. 95f.