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Tuesday, 31 July 2012

On the Stages of Perfection and a Warning.

Before I continue with the definitions of virtues and sins, it is very important that I re-iterate both the warnings of St. John of the Cross and Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange concerning the stages of growth in holiness towards perfection.

Knowing that God has called all of us to perfection, not merely chosen, obvious saints, Garrigou-Lagrange warns of becoming complacent, or falling into self-deceit regarding where one is in the levels of growth,

Now, we must work with the Holy Trinity in this walk, but we must not be deceived into thinking we are holier than we are.

Here are some of the points to remember:

1) Find a good confessor and/or spiritual director who understands and preferably has Thomistic, Scholastic background. In my limited experience, post-Vatican II trained priests without Scholastic understanding of sin and virtue cannot help one grow. The tendency too often is for priests to have lower expectations for holiness for the laity. This is not the believe of Garrigou-Lagrange.

2) Be absolutely honest with all sins, failings and weaknesses. Confessing weaknesses as well as sins helps a priest understand one better. If there are areas of healing which are necessary, share those in context of sinful behaviors.

3) If one's memory is not good, write down both sins and virtues combatting those sins. This can be done after the daily examination of conscience. I find mornings are better than evenings for this. But, one can do an examen in the evening.

4) Be honest about going backwards. St. John of the Cross and others refer to "Generous Souls", who do not avoid pain and are willing to be realistic about sin and weaknesses. If one avoids the Purgative Stage, for example, one will stay in that place until God is finished working.

5) Realize that we all have a duty to the Church to pursue perfection. No one has the real power of the Indwelling of the Holy Spirit without the life of the virtues. We cannot kid ourselves. The Holy Spirit can only work in power through a person who is humble, has purity of heart and a deep selflessness.

The rewards include a great intimacy with God, Christ and the Holy Spirit.

As always, I warn all against private revelations not approved. I think that the great saints, such as St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila have enough to say to us to keep us busy for a lifetime.

Also, be careful of extremes, which can indicate pride. My own namesake, St. Rose of Lima, did extreme things, but is a one-off type of girl. We cannot harm ourselves or not be able to meet the duties of the day in our pursuit of holiness. God bless you all.