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Sunday, 20 January 2013

Why perfection? One reason out of many....freedom

St. Bernard of Clairvaux would have made an excellent 21st century psychologist  He understood human nature and nurture. He understood the workings of the soul, the psyche. He understood the need for the seeking of perfection.

Some people have asked me why the need for perfection.

I have finally found a priest who understands this journey and desire for purification.

He told me today that the imperfections of my soul must be rooted out by prayer and Trust.

Confidence in Divine Providence is a great gift and the more one allows the Love of God into one's heart, the more the confidence grows.

Confidence allows one to be humble and honest with one's self.

Confidence is based on honesty, as is humility.

When one can be honest about one's past and present, when one can be honest about one's limitations, then one is one the road to perfection.

It is exciting and rewarding.

When one is honest with one's self, one is no longer alone.

One is joined to humanity. Pride separates, humility unifies.

So, why perfection?

We have no power to bring about the Kingdom of God unless we allow God to cleanse us of pride and other sins.

Without purification, there is little power.

Power is from the Holy Spirit, Who wants to renew the face of the earth, as the prayer indicates.

That renewal cannot happen in mediocrity.

It cannot happen in lukewarmness.

St.Bernard of Clairvaux gives us three levels of self-knowledge and stages on the way to perfection.

The first is VIRTUE We learn how to be good, how to live the life of the virtues.

If we learn this as children, we are most fortunate. The life of the virtues only comes after purification.

Second, is NATURE. Bernard says that the practice of virtue becomes so habitual that we do not have to think about being good. One lives out the virtues naturally. There is joy in this, much joy.

To live in virtue naturally brings about change in the world around us.

Third is the stage of GRACE and GRATITUDE. One lives in delight.

But, here is an important point.

Without freedom, without free will, there is NO merit.

If one is still living in states of sin, there is no merit. One is merely reacting to stimuli.

Freedom means love and liberty from sin. This is one good reason to seek perfection--the will becomes free.

Here is Bernard:

It is the will alone therefore which, 
seeing that by 
reason of its innate freedom it is 
compelled by no necessity 
either to disagree with itself or to 
consent in any matter 
in spite of itself, rightly maketh a 
man, as being under no 
compulsion to be either righteous or 
unrighteous, fittingly 
capable of blessedness or of misery; 
provided, that is to 
say, that it hath given its consent 
whether to righteousness or 
to unrighteousness. Accordingly I thinkthat this free 
consent of the will, upon which 
(as aforesaid) every act of 
judgement is founded, is not unsuitablywont to be called, 
as we have already defined it, free choice, the word " free " 
having reference to the will, and the word " choice " to the 
reason. Yet is it not necessarily free with that liberty of 
which the Apostle speaketh : "Where the Spirit of the 
Lord is, there is liberty." This is that freedom from 
sin of which he saith elsewhere : " When ye were the 
servants of sin ye were free from righteousness. . . . But 
now being made free from sin, and become servants to 
God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end ever- 
lasting life."  But who is there in the sinful flesh that 
can claim for himself freedom from sin ? .....

It is, therefore, simply from this freedom, by which the 
will is free to judge itself, whether as good, if it have con- 
sented to well-doing, or as evil, if to evil-doing (forsooth 
it perceiveth plainly that it is only by an act of will that it 
hath consented to either of the two), that we believe free 
determination to be so called. For freedom from sin might, 
perhaps, more fittingly be called free counsel, and freedom 
from misery free pleasure, rather than free determination.'' 
As a fact determination is judgement. 

To be continued...