Why we should aim for perfection
Perfectionism… appears to be a negative thing in general. But in Christianity, we are called to be perfect and strive towards sainthood.
“So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.” ~ Matthew 5: 48
I have struggled with perfectionism for most of my life and it is draining. Not just at the expense of my health but also at a great cost to my relationships.
I had an epiphany today that none of us can be perfect in this lifetime but it is nonetheless important to strive for perfectionism.
Not worldly perfection which is an exercise in vainglory, but spiritual perfection. This involves dying to ourselves on a daily basis.
I find myself demoralized each time I undertake my examination of conscience in preparation for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. I commit the same mortal and/or venial sins from one confession to the next.
However, I am reminded that God may allow some imperfection to remain so that I will remain humble, and this will help in my pursuit of holiness.
“God sometimes permits men to retain certain defects and imperfections, blind-spots and even eccentricities, even after they have reached a high degree of sanctity. If the holiness of the saints had always been plainly evident to everybody and them, they would never have been polished and perfected by trial, criticism, humiliation and opposition from the people they lived with. ~ New Seeds of Contemplation by Thomas Merton
How then can we achieve spiritual perfection?
As my confessor shares, all sin is turning away from Grace. Since the fruit of prayer is grace, the only way to live a life of holiness is prayer. Unceasing prayer.
Here is some useful takeaways from a video on the spiritual life by Father Chad Ripperger:
- Engage in mystical contemplation: [explain mystical contemplation] This will help us subordinate our faculties and appetites to Reason. This will help us root out our imperfections and our venial sins.
- Ask either Our Lady of Sorrows, the Holy Spirit and/or our guardian angel to reveal to us our predominant defect(s): I followed his advice pronto and prayed to Our Lady of Sorrows. That very day, I woke up in the middle of the night with two words: false humility. How illuminating and humbling! I guess the first step for this to work is, faith in God.
3. Practice self-denial: [examples of self-denial] This will help us avoid praise and instead, honor God.
4. Practice mortification: [explain this]. This will help us recognize our imperfections.
5. Practice charity as virtue of the will.
Ultimately however, spiritual perfection is not an end goal in itself. It has to be pursued for the love of God!
“Occupy my whole life with the one thought and the one desire of love, that I may love not for the sake of merit, or perfection, or virtue, or sanctity, but for You alone” ~ New Seeds of Contemplation by Thomas Merton