Father Geiermann concludes his discussion on striving for perfection by mentioning four things that people on the road to perfection do.
First, they are attentive to details. “Attention to details is essential to produce a perfect work. Our daily life is made up mostly of minor obligations and petty trials. Heroic sacrifices are rarely required in a lifetime. Though the main duties of our calling demand our first attention, the details are also of obligation. By performing these with due attention, we also fulfil the former well and thus bring forth fruit a hundred-fold. Continual attention to details in shunning evil and doing good is not only the greatest evidence of our loyalty to God, but also the evidence of virtue as heroic as is found in the lives of the canonized saints.”
Secondly, they make good use of the present moment. “The present moment links the eternity of the past with the eternity to come. The past will never return; the future is in God’s keeping. The present is the time of grace and opportunity.”
Thirdly, they renew their good intention. “As the hand of the compass turns to the North so human nature instinctively inclines to earthly things. To concentrate our energies on spiritual things we must counteract the downward tendency of our corrupt nature by a frequent renewal of our good intention. . . . If we do not recollect ourselves and renew our intention from time to time, our fervor will cool, our generosity will decrease, and our vigilance will relax. . . . All Christians are exhorted to renew their good intention at least every morning. St. Alphonsus exhorts us to make a good intention at the beginning of every undertaking, to renew it when the clock strikes.”
Fourthly, those who seek perfection are faithful. “Fidelity in the service of God is a persevering effort to avoid evil and do good. It is essential to attain eternal happiness. . . . ‘To begin well,’ says St. Teresa, ‘is half the victory, but to receive the crown of glory we must die a holy death.’ It matters little when or where we shall die as long as we keep ourselves in readiness by fidelity in God’s service. ‘Wherefore be you ready,’ exhorts our Saviour, ‘because at what hour you know not the Son of man will come’ (Matt 24:44). We insure this fidelity or final perseverance by serving God perfectly moment after moment, hour after hour, day after day. . . . We shall be ever ready for His summons, and so may confidently expect to hear those consoling words: ‘Well done, good and faithful servant, because thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will place thee over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord’ (Matt 25:21).”
Quotations from Peter Geiermann, The Narrow Way (New York: Benziger, 1914).