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The Way of Perfection...

"My child, you must strive to be as perfect as the Eternal Father created you to be. This perfection is for strengthening your eternal soul. The perfection that you seek, My children, is in the spiritual realm." - Our Lady of the Roses, June 24, 1976
 

The following is an excerpt from the classic book, The Spiritual Life: A Treatise on Ascetical and Mystical Theology by the Very Reverend Adolphe Tanquerey, S.S., D.D.

 

 

 

CHAP. III.--THE PERFECTION OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE

 

#295. All life must perfect itself. This is true, above all, of the Christian life. It is by its very nature a progressive life, its completion being achieved only in Heaven. We must examine, then, in what its perfection consists, in order that we direct our steps more surely along its way. Since there exist erroneous conceptions and more or less incomplete ideas on this fundamental point, we shall begin by eliminating the false notions of Christian perfection, and then explain its true nature.[1]

 

 

n1. "Introd. to a Devout Life," P. I, C. I-II; "Spiritual Combat," C. I; FABER, "Growth in Holiness," C, XXII-XXV; MEYER, "Science of the Saints," Vol. I, C. XIX.

 

ART. I. FALSE NOTIONS CONCERNING PERFECTION.

 

These false notions are met with among unbelievers, worldlings, and even among devout souls.

 

#296 (1) In the eyes of unbelievers, Christian perfection is no more than a subjective phenomenon without any corresponding reality.

 

A) Many of them study what they call mystical phenomena, only with malicious prejudices and without distinguishing the true from false mystics. Such are, Max Nordau, J. H. Leuba, E. Murisier.[1] According to them, the so-called perfection of the mystics is nothing more than a morbid phenomenon, a species of psycho-neurosis, a sort of exaltation based on religious feeling or even a special form of sexual love. This, they say, is shown by the terms spousals, spiritual marriage, kisses, embraces and divine caresses so frequently found in the writings of mystics.

 

It is evident that these authors, hardly acquainted with any but sensual love, have not the slightest conception of divine love; they are among those to whom the words of Our Lord can be aptly applied: "Neither cast ye your pearls before swine."[2] No wonder then that other psychologists, such as William James, have pointed out that sexual instinct has nothing to do with sanctity; that the true mystics have practiced heroic chastity, some having never experienced, or hardly so, the weaknesses of the flesh, others having overcome violent temptations by heroic means, for instance, throwing themselves among thorns. If they have, therefore, employed the language of human love, it is because every other falls short of terms to express the tenderness of divine love.[3] They have further shown by the whole tenor of their conduct, by the greatness of the works they have undertaken and brought to a successful end, that they were full of wisdom and poise and that at any rate we cannot but bless the neuroses that have given to the world an Aquinas and a Bonaventure, an Ignatius Loyola and a Xavier, a Teresa of Jesus and a John of the Cross, a Francis de Sales and a Jeanne de Chantal, a Vincent de Paul, a Mademoiselle Legras, a Berulle, an Olier, an Alphonsus Liguori, a Paul of the Cross.

 

n1. MAX NORDAU, "Degenerescence, t. I, p. 115; J. H. LEUBA, "Psychological Study of Religion;" E. MURISIER, "Les maladies du sentiment religieux."n2. "Matth.," VII, 6.n3. W. JAMES, "The Varieties of Religious Experience," p. 9-12.

 

#297. B) Other unbelievers, such as William James and Maxime de Montmorand,[1] whilst doing justice to our mystics, yet doubt the objective reality of the phenomena they described. They acknowledge the marvelous effects caused in souls by the religious sentiment, an indomitable impulse toward good, an absolute devotedness to others. They recognize their supposed egotism to be in reality charity of the highest social character and productive of the most wholesome influence, that their thirst for sufferings does not hinder them from enjoying unspeakable delights nor from radiating a measure of happiness to their surroundings.--Yet, they ask themselves the question: are not mystics the victims of auto-suggestion and hallucinations?

 

To this we answer that such salutary effects can only proceed from a proportionate cause; that no real and lasting good can come from aught but what is true; and that if Christian mystics have produced useful social works, it is because contemplation and the love of God, which have inspired such works, are not hallucinations but actual, living and working realities: "By their fruits you shall know them."[2]

 

n1. W. JAMES, op. cit,; M. DE MONTMORAND, "Psychologie des Mystiques," 1920.
n2. "Matth.," VII, 20.

 

#298. (2) Worldlings, even when they have the faith, often entertain very false ideas concerning perfection or, as they call it, devotion.

 

A) Some look upon devout souls as hypocrites, who under the cover of religion, hide odious vices or political designs and ambitions, such as the desire to lord it over consciences and thus to control the world. This is the fallacy that identifies the thing with its abuse. The course of the present study will show us that frankness, honesty and humility are the true characteristics of piety.

 

#299. B) Others see in piety a sort of exaltation of feeling, and imagination, a kind of vehemence of emotion good at best for women and children, but unworthy of men who want to be guided by reason and will. And, yet, how many men whose names appear in the catalogue of the Saints have been distinguished by proverbial good sense, an uncommon degree of intelligence, an energetic and persevering will! Here again a caricature is mistaken for the portrait.

 

#300. C) Lastly, there are those will maintain that perfection is a Utopia beyond realization and hence fraught with danger, that it suffices to keep the Commandments without wasting time in punctilious practices or in the quest of extraordinary virtues.

 

The perusal of the lives of the Saints suffices to rectify such an erroneous view: perfection has been realized here on earth, and the practice of the counsels, far from working to the detriment of the precepts, simply renders their observance all the easier.

 

#301. (3) Even among devout souls there are those who err as to the true nature of perfection, and who describe it, each according to the caprice of his own bias and fancy.[1]

 

A) Many, mistaking devotions for devotion, imagine perfection to consist in reciting a great number of prayers, i joining sundry religious societies, even if such practices entail the occasional neglect of their duties of state or of the charity due to the other members of the household. This is a substitution of non-essentials for the necessary, a sacrifice of the end to the means.

 

n1. Thus remarks St. FRANCIS DE SALES, "Introduction to a Devout Life," Part. I, C. I which should be read in its entirety.

 

#302. B) Others give themselves to fastings and austerities to the exhaustion of the body, and thus become unfit for the discharge of their duties of state and consider themselves dispensed therefore from the law of charity toward their neighbor. They dare not permit themselves any little dainties, yet they do not hesitate "to drench their lips with the life-blood of their fellow-men through calumny and slander.[1] "Here again one forgets the essentials of perfection and neglects the fundamental duty of charity in favor of practices good indeed but far less important.-- The like mistake is made by those who give generously to charity, but refuse to forgive their enemies, or those who, whilst forgiving them, think not of paying their debts.

 

n2. "Devout Life," ib.

 

#303. C) Some, taking spiritual consolations for fervor, think they have arrived at perfection if they are filled with joy and can pray with ease, and they consider themselves lukewarm when they are seized by aridity and distractions. Such persons forget that what counts before God is the generous, oft-renewed effort despite apparent failures.

 

#304. D) Others, taken up by a life of action and external activities, neglect the interior life to give themselves more entirely to works of zeal. They forget that the life and soul of all zeal is habitual prayer which draws down the grace of God and gives fruitfulness to action.

 

#305. E) Others, having read mystical works or the lives of the Saints in which ecstasies and visions are described, fancy perfection to consist in these extraordinary phenomena and strain their minds and imaginations to obtain them. They have never understood that such phenomena are, as the mystics themselves testify, but incidental; that they do not constitute the essence of sanctity and that it is foolhardy to covet them; that conformity to the will of God is by far the safer and more practical way.

 

Having thus cleared the ground, we shall be able to understand more easily in what perfection essentially consists.

 

ART. II. TRUE NOTION OF PERFECTION [1]

 

#306. The State of the Question. (1) Any being is perfect (perfectum) in the natural order when it is finished, completed, hence, when it has attained its end: "Each is said to be perfect in so far as it attains its own end, which is the highest perfection of anything."[2] This constitutes absolute perfection. However, there is also a relative and progressive perfection which consists in the approach toward that end by the development of all one's faculties and the carrying out in practice of all duties, in accordance with the dictates of the natural law as manifested by right reason.

 

n1. ST. THOM., IIa IIae, q. 184, a. I-3; "Opuscul. de perfectione vitae spiritualis," ALVAREZ DE PAZ, op. cit., I, III; LE GAUDIER, op. cit., P. Ia; SCHRAM, "Instit. Theol. ascetique," Introduction; GARRIGOU-LAGRANCE, dans la "Vie spirit.," oct. et nov. 1920.n2. "Sum. theol., IIa IIae, q. 184, a. I. See also works referred to above, n. 295.

 

#307. (2) The end of man, even in the natural order, is God: 1) Created by Him, we are of necessity created for Him since He is the fullness of Being. On the other hand to create for an imperfect end would be unworthy of Him. 2) Besides, God being infinite perfection and thereby the origin of all perfection, man is the more perfect as he approaches closer to God and shares in His divine perfections. This is the reason why man cannot find in creatures anything that can fully satisfy his legitimate aspirations: "The ultimate end of man is uncreated good, that is to say, God, Who alone is capable, by His infinite goodness, of satisfying completely the human will."[1] All our actions then must be referred to God--to know, love and serve Him and thereby glorify Him, this is the end of life, the source of all perfection.

 

ST. THOM., Ia IIae, q. III, a. I. Cfr. TANQUEREY, "Synopsis Theol. moralis," Tr. de Ultimo fine, n. 2-18.

 

#308. (3) In the supernatural order this is so all the more. Raised by God to a state that surpasses all our needs and all our capabilities, destined one day to contemplate Him through the Beatific Vision, possessing Him even now through grace, and endowed as we are with a supernatural organism that we may unite with Him by the practice of the Christian virtues, we cannot evidently perfect ourselves unless we unceasingly draw closer to Him. This, however, we cannot effect except by uniting ourselves to Jesus--the One indispensable way to go to the Father. Hence, our perfection will consist in living for God in union with Jesus Christ: "To live wholly unto God in Christ Jesus."[1] This we do when we practice the Christian virtues, theological and moral. The end of all these is to unite us to God more or less directly by making us imitate our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

n2. FATHER OLIER, "Pietas Seminarii," n. I.

 

#309. (4) Here the question arises whether there is among these virtues any one which summarizes and embodies all the others, thus constituting the essence of perfection. Summing up the doctrine of Holy Writ and of the Fathers, St. Thomas answers that perfection essentially consists in the love of God and of the neighbor for God's sake: "Essentially the perfection of the Christian life consists in charity, first and foremost in the love of God, then in the love of neighbor."[1] In this life the love of God cannot be practiced without renouncing inordinate self-love, that is, the threefold concupiscence; therefore, in practice, sacrifice must be joined to love. This we are to explain by showing: 1) how the love of God and of the neighbor constitutes the essence of perfection; 2) why this love must go to the point of sacrifice; 3) how these two elements must be combined; 4) how perfection includes both precepts and counsels; 5) what are the degrees of perfection and how far perfection can be attained here on earth.

 

n1. "Sum, theol.," IIa IIae, q. 184, a. 3; Opusculum, "De perfectione vitae spiritualis," cap. I, n. 56, 7.

 

"I have prepared you in the past, My child, for much persecution. I have not directed you falsely. All who follow My Son will carry a heavy cross. It is through suffering that you will gain a measure of perfection." - Our Lady of the Roses, September 28, 1974

 

The amazing Bayside prophecies...  http://www.tldm.org/Bayside/default.htm 

PURPOSE OF LIFE
"While you are upon earth you are there to do honor and glory to your God in Heaven. You must know Him, love Him, and serve Him in this world, so that you will be happy with Him forever in the next." - Our Lady, June 1, 1978

FEAR

"Yes, My child, you will feel faint at the knowledge of the existence of hell. Better that mankind has fear of the Eternal Father if he does not have love! For now many are in a void of spirit. They neither know their God, nor do they care to know their God. " - Our Lady, March 29, 1975

FIRST COMMANDMENT
"Any priest that tells you that you must love your neighbor first and God second, he is not a true man of God nor is he a true Roman Catholic priest, nor is he a true minister of any denomination. Because the first Commandment of God the Father is: 'I am the Lord thy God, thou shall not have strange gods before Me.'" - Our Lady, June 18, 1982

TRUE MEANING
"But so few know the true meaning of love. Love is in giving. Love is in caring. But love above all is God, your God. For no man knows the full meaning of love until he has reached out and become a man of God, a true child of the light; for then he will also be a keeper of the eternal flame, the Holy Spirit." - Jesus, June l8, 1981

KNEEL
"My children, kneel before your God in the Eucharist. Do not stand like you stand in meeting halls, but kneel and give Him a just love and observance of honor." - Our Lady, July 14, 1979

CHILDREN
"Your children must be taught at home, given a firm foundation of the truth, the knowledge of their Faith. You must instill in their hearts the love of God before the love of any man." - Our Lady, October 6, 1979

VICTIM SOULS
"Many victim souls are needed in the days ahead, victims to the merciful love of the Father those who are willing to give of themselves for the repatriation of another soul. Give, and all will be given to you by the Father. For it is truly, My children, in giving that you shall receive." - Our Lady, July 1, 1974

FROM THE BEGINNING
"The rules for mankind were given from the beginning by the Eternal Father. They were commands from Heaven, commands to be followed through love; commands that only can be followed through love, for fear does not beget love." - Jesus, May 30, 1977

Directives from Heaven...  http://www.tldm.org/directives/directives.htm 

D20 - Importance of Prayer (Part 1)  PDF Logo PDF
D21 - Importance of Prayer (Part 2)  
PDF Logo PDF
D31 - Love of God  
PDF Logo PDF
D32 - Love of Neighbor  PDF Logo PDF
 

 

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