Thursday, August 06, 2009

Virtue of Perfection

When I woke up this morning, I needed to get this off my heart.

"She is the perfect wife," John says one day in front of my family as we were visiting this summer. Instantly, I say, "I am not perfect."

My husband has said this at other times in one on one conversations and it baffled me every time. Why is he saying this? I am not perfect. I am a flawed human being. I am sinful. Slowly, I began to realize that what he really meant is that we are perfect for each other but we in ourselves are not perfect.

On our little summer vacation, I learned that perfection is also a virtue. I learned this from a neat book called "A year with the Saints" by the Sisters of Mercy. This book also states a quote by St. Frances de Sales:

"Hate your imperfections, then, because they are imperfections, but love them because they make you know your nothingness and give to you an opportunity to exercise yourself in virtue, and to God to show His mercy towards you" (p. 163).

The book also talks about St. Vincent de Paul who "never felt anger and bitterness against himself on account of his defects" but "the pain felt for a defect will have something in it sweet and tranquil" (p. 162).

After I said I was not perfect, my sister-in-law responded by saying, "I know some people who think they are perfect". The response back was silence. The more I thought about this, the more I wondered what exactly does it mean to be perfect. I guess being perfect can be subject to interpretation.

Most importantly though, what does it mean to be perfect in God's eyes? There are several interpretations of perfection according to the Saints. For the sake of simplicity, I will mention 3 quotes from famous Saints.

The first:

Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do? Here is the true token of a soul absolutely perfect: when one has succeeded in leaving behind his own will to such a degree as no longer to seek, to aim, or to desire to do what he would will, but only what God wills (St. Bernard). (A year with the saints, Sisters of Mercy, p. 17).

The second:

To be perfect in one's vocation is nothing else than to perform the duties and offices to which one is obliged, solely for the honor and love of God, referring all to His glory. Whoever works in this manner may be called perfect in his state, a man according to the heart and will of God (St. Francis de Sales). (A year with the Saints, Sisters of Mercy, p. 8).

And, the third:

All the science of the Saints is included in these two things: To do, and to suffer. And whoever has done these two things best, has made himself most saintly (St. Francis de Sales). (A year with the Saints, Sisters of Mercy, p.11).

When we visit with family, it can be difficult at times because of all the hurts from the past that may come up. But, in our case towards the end of our trip we began to see the hidden graces of our journey together.

St. Gregory, St. Bernard, and St. Charles stated "that we must act in this like travelers who do not regard the road they have gone over, but, rather, what remains for them to traverse - and this they keep always before their eyes, even to their journey's end" (p. 2).

Lucille Everett

Feast of the Transfiguration

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