PERFECTION 7

Perfection is not acquired by holding one's arms extended in the form of a cross, but rather by one really working in order to dominate oneself and force oneself to live not according to one's inclinations and passions, but according to reason, the Rule and obedience. This is hard, it is true, but it is necessary. With practice, however, it becomes easy and pleasant.
– St. Francis de Sales

Plutarch once related that a certain Lycurgus took two puppies of the same parents and raised one as a house dog and one as a hunting dog. Then, when the dogs were grown, he took them to the forum, where he was to give a talk. First he threw some bones on the ground and at the same time let loose a hare. Upon seeing the bones, the first dog began to chew on them hungrily while the second dog took off to chase the hare. Then Lycurgus called the people's attention, saying: "Did you see what happened? These two dogs are of the the same pedigree, yet they do not have the same inclinations, each is inclined to do that which he is accustomed to do." One is able to overcome even the strongest inclinations of nature if one becomes accustomed to self-abnegation.

Of St. Ignatius Loyola, it is written that with the continued self-denial he inflicted upon himself and in his bearing all adversities, he acquired such a degree of holy indifference that it seemed as though he no longer had any inclinations. The same was true of many other saints.

Although to one who has entered religion and guards himself against offending God, it might seem that he has done everything, oh! there yet remain certain worms that are not seen until they have eaten away the virtues! These worms are self-love, high esteem of self, rash judgment of others, and lack of charity toward our neighbor. So that, although we fulfill our duties, we do not perform them with that perfection which God wants of us.
– St. Teresa of Avila

It was to one of these worms, that the Venerable de Palafox attributed the cause of his falling into mediocrity after his conversion, so much so, that he almost we to the point of losing his soul. "Why," he asked, "should I have thought myself really humble, even though I might be? And even though I tried to be an ardently desired to be good, was I to presume that I really was good? That hidden pride obliged Divine Goodness to teach me to see myself as I really was, not good but bad, lazy, unfaithful, miserable, full of pride and sensuality, and a squanderer of graces."

To be perfect in one's vocation entails nothing else than doing the duties and tasks that one must perform according to his position, but doing them well and only for the love and honor of God, referring all the glory to Him. He who does this is perfect in his state of life; he is a man according to God's Heart and Will.
– St. Francis de Sales

We read in the lives of the holy Fathers that the Abbot Pafnuzio, well known for his sanctity, one day desired to know whether he had any merits before God. In answer he was told that his merits were similar to those of a certain Baron. The saint went to visit that Baron, who received the abbot with kindness and treated him well. After supper, the abbot asked the Baron to tell him of his way of life. The Baron, however, said that he was most careful to accommodate all travelers and give them what they needed for their journey; he never mistreated the poor, but helped them in their needs; he saw to it that all in his jurisdiction were always treated with justice and that no one could ever complain of having been hurt by his family; he had never saddened anyone, but honored all, helped all those he could and tried his best to keep peace among all. Upon hearing this, the abbot understood that true perfection consists not in doing many things, but in fulfilling one's duties well.

To be a servant of God means to have a great charity toward one's neighbor and an unshakable resolution to follow the Divine Will in all things, trusting in God with simplicity and humility, bearing with one's defects and patiently tolerating the imperfections of others.
– St. Francis de Sales

One day, while St. Gertrude was bemoaning the fact that every once in a while she still committed a certain small defect, she begged Our Lord to liberate her from it. He, however, answered her: "Would you then deprive Me of a great honor and yourself of a great reward? Know you, that as often as one recognizes his weakness and resolves to overcome it in the future, he gains a great reward for himself. And each time he refrains from falling for love of Me, he gives Me as great an honor as a good soldier gives to his king when he fights and overcomes his enemies."



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