PERFECTION 8

All perfection is based upon two principles, which, if we practice, and attend to the daily duties of our vocations, will surely bring us to its summit and fulfillment. The first principle is a very low opinion of all creation, but above all, of oneself.  From this lowly opinion of self will follow the renunciation of oneself and of the things created as well as detachment from self-love, with a resolute will to do one's duty whenever and however necessary. The second principle is a very high esteem of God, which is easily acquired with the light of faith; reflecting that He is omnipotent, the greatest good, our end and has loved us so much. He is always present, He governs us in all, both in nature and in grace and calls each of us to a high perfection, giving us our start with our special vocation. From esteem for God should follow promptness and great submission of the will to all that God wants of us, and at the same time, a complete conformity to the Divine Will, which should be the practical gauge of all our plans, affections and deeds.
– P. Achille Gagliardi

St. Vincent de Paul's principal concern was to be well established and perfected in those above-mentioned principles. In his profound humility he believed himself utterly incapable of great things, and he thought of nothing else but faithfully fulfilling the obligations a true and perfect Christian has toward God. Then, because he understood through a supernatural light that all Christian perfection depends on the good use of these two principles, he made them his goal and tried his best to engrave them in his soul, so as to make them serve him a as a sure rule and guide for every action. And he succeeded in doing so very well, because God, Who exalts the humble, was not only content to lead him, though this means, to that Christian perfection which he was striving to achieve, but also willed to raise him to a solid, eminent and singular sanctity.

I hear speak of nothing but perfection, but I see it practiced by just a few. Each pictures perfection in how own way. Some see it in simplicity of dress, some in austerity, some in almsgiving, some in the frequenting of the Sacraments; others see it in prayers, others in passive contemplation, and still others in those freely-given or gratuitous graces – but they all err, taking the effects for the cause and the means for the end. I, for my part, know of no other perfection than that of loving God with one's whole heart and one's neighbor as oneself. He who conceives any other type of perfection deceives himself, because the accumulation of all the other virtues without this love is nothing but the amassing of stones. And if we do not immediately and perfectly enjoy this treasure of holy love, it is our own fault, because we are too parsimonious and hesitant with God, and we do not give ourselves entirely to Him as did the Saints.
– St. Francis de Sales

From this holy thought, who does not realize that St. Francis de Sales' perfection could not help but be real and very sublime, when his love of God and neighbor was so holy and so pure? The same can be said of St. Vincent de Paul.

St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi was truly admirable in these two virtues. She acquired such a great love of God and of neighbor that she labored more for the latter's good than for her own.

God greatly desires us to be so perfect as to be one with Him. Let us examine ourselves and see what is still lacking in us to reach this goal.
– St. Teresa of Avila

When Father Peter Faber, a companion of St. Ignatius, thought of the fact that God greatly desires our perfection, he would try his best to increase in it daily and never let a day pass without some progress in the acquisition of virtue. Thus he grew in perfection and was highly esteemed as a saint.

We must begin with a strong and constant resolution to give ourselves entirely to God, protesting with a tender and loving sentiment, which comes from the depths of the heart, that for the future we want to be His without reserve, and then frequently renew this resolution.
– St. Francis de Sales

Every once in a while, St. Francis de Sales would renew this resolution and his desires to serve God better.

From the first day of his entrance into religious life, St. John Berchmans resolved to become a saint. Not only did he remain constant in all he resolved to do, but also renewed his fervor daily, to his spiritual advantage.

Act as though all the past were nothing and with David say: "Now I will begin to love my God."
– St. Francis de Sales
 
Thus did St. Paul. Even though after his conversion he had become the Vessel of Election and was filled with the Holy Spirit, he used this method in order to keep on the road to perfection and advance. When writing to the Philippians he said: "Brethren, I do not consider that I have laid hold of it (perfection) already. But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind, I strain forward to what is before, I press on toward the goal to the prize of God's heavenly cal in Christ Jesus."
 
And among the saints who thus counseled and practiced it themselves, we find St. George, St. Bernard and St. Charles. In order to render the necessity and usefulness of this method clear, these saints used two beautiful comparisons. "We should act as travelers do," they said. "They do not look back to see how much they have traveled, but ahead – at the distance they must still cover. This goal they keep before their eyes until the end of the day. Again, we should be like misers who, greedy for riches, do not consider what they have already amassed, nor the fatigue they have endured, but try their utmost to acquire more and multiply their riches daily, as though they had never acquired anything in the past."
 
 

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