Striving for Perfection – Part 1 of 10

Father Geiermann continues his discussion of the four qualities that dispose a person to yield a bountiful spiritual harvest. The fourth quality is the determination to attain perfection.

He writes: “Perfection essentially consists in the love and friendship of God. There are three degrees or stages of this love. In the first man does as much good as is necessary to avoid offending God by mortal sin. In the second he goes farther and avoids deliberate venial sin. In the third stage he is so intimately united to God by the bond of divine charity that he corrects his natural defects and does the will of God in all things.”

“The general means whereby man grows in the love and friendship of God and advances on the way to perfection are: (1) self-denial, or the subjugation of himself to the influence of grace; (2) the practice of virtue; and (3) conformity to the divine will.”

“The heavenly Father, being infinitely perfect, is the standard of all perfection. As the image and likeness of God, man’s life-task is to reproduce in himself the divine perfections according to his capacity. Hence the Saviour said: ‘Be ye perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect’ (Mt 5:48). Man starts on the way to perfection as soon as he strives to know, love, and serve God. On the way he has Jesus for his model, Mary for his mother, the Church for his teacher, the Holy Ghost for his counselor, the priest of God for his director, the angels and saints for his friends, and prayer, the sacraments, and the sacramentals as the means of obtaining divine strength.”

When Jesus emerged from the waters of the Jordan after having been baptized, a voice from heaven was heard to say “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Mt 3:17). Geiermann remarks: “Jesus Christ is the divine Model proposed for our imitation. His ambition was the glory of God and the welfare of souls; His strength, the love of God and of mankind; His daily bread, the will of His heavenly Father. He abhorred sin and triumphed over every weakness.”

“If we constantly aim at the Christian ideal and strive to reproduce it in our lives, Jesus assures us that His yoke is sweet and His burden light.”

Quotations from Peter Geiermann, The Narrow Way (New York: Benziger, 1914).

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