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Sunday, 9 December 2012

Do you want to be perfect?

St. Bernard of Clairvaux writes that great men ask God for great things. Moses, Joshua, David, Daniel, and many others asked God for great things, including the revelation of the Glory of God.

We do not ask because we are afraid to lose our own judgement. When we ask for God to do great things in our lives, He may ask something of us. And, indeed, He does. He will ask,"Peter, do you love Me?"

Francis de Sales is referred to in an old, but excellent book on formation from New Melleray, in Peosta, Iowa. This book was written in 1932 and is a translation of a French text for Cistercian novitates.

The quotation from St. Francis is put into a paraphrase. "According to St. Francis de Sales, attachment to our own judgement is one of the most necessary things to abandon is we desire to attain true humility and true perfection. It is, however, the last thing we part with, and hence there are so few perfect souls."

How does the lay person, who is in the world without being in obedience to a superior attain such perfection and move away from own's own judgement? And what is my own judgement? It is subjectivity instead of objectivity.

By humility.

This is very hard. We need to be dependent on God and His Church.

The anonymous monk continues: "Without humility, contemplation is impossible,. The proud man cannot give due adoration to God; he is too much occupies with self to realize the distance that separates the greatness of God form our nothingness, His infinite sanctity form our misery. Such a one attributes to himself the gift of heave and feels not obligation of returning thanks."

I hear from some lay persons that they do not think they are called to contemplation. Yes, we are if we want to see God. Humility and contemplation mean that we are objective about our own spiritual life. A good formation of conscience helps.

"Humility leads to purification of the heart and the perfection of charity", states St. Benedict in his Rule, VII.

What is humility and how do we know we have acquired this virtue? How do you answer these questions? This is a partial list.

Do you get angry when people are rude to you?
Do you get upset when people misunderstand you and criticize you?
Are you always wanting to be right and be first?
Can you give way to others in lines, in preference, in conversation?
Can you forgive others when they ignore you?
Can you suffer and be grateful for the suffering?
Can you be silent and listen instead of needing to be heard?
Can you be obedient to Holy Mother Church even if you do not understand something?
Can you decide to learn and seek answers and not be ignorant?
Is God always first in your life and in your decision making?
Do you love the Church?
Can you ask God to show you how sinful you really are?
Can you really believe that most people are better than you are?