Perfection through Imperfection

"Be patient with the whole world, but, above all, with yourself.  I want to tell you not to lose your serenity because of your imperfections, and always have the zest to raise yourself up.  It gives joy to see that each day you begin again.  There is no better way to finish life well than to return to the starting point always, and not ever to think that we have done enough."  St. Francis de Sales

Recently I have been reading Joseph Tissot's work "How to Profit from Your Faults."  The work is based on the teachings of St. Francis de Sales, one of my favorite saints.  I discovered this book while I was on a silent retreat.  What initially drew me to the work was the title, but as I began casually reading, I knew that the Lord was speaking directly to me and that he intended it for my eyes.  Since then it has been a consistent source of consolation for me.   I want to share some of the insights that I have gained from the book.

The most obvious message of the book is that God's mercy is infinite.  There is nothing on earth, no sin, no imperfection that can change this spiritual truth.  In my previous post I spoke about the Divine Mercy devotion; how mercy was God's greatest attribute.  In a similar vein this book conveys the same message. 

Personally I have known and experienced Jesus' mercy.  I have experienced this first hand through going to confession, but on a day to day basis I had begun to lose lose sight of the essence of Christ's mercy. I am very ambitious and want to be the best at whatever I do including my faith.  I am not the type of person who just does things for the "heck of it."  I want to succeed or not try at all.  I usually want to eradicate my weaknesses on my own.

The hidden danger here is that I was relying far too much on myself; so much to the point that I would become disheartened each time I would fall short of my super high expectations.   I found out that this attitude was an insidious form of pride.  A pride born of the notion that I could be great without the mercy of Christ.  In my naivete I failed to realize that I had inherited a fallen nature, a nature that could only be transcended by Jesus' inexhaustible mercy and grace.

Once I became aware of this, I had a new sense of freedom and felt less burdened.  God didn't demand perfection out of me, what he wanted instead was for me to keep coming back to him over and over like a child.  As long as I did this I would grow in holiness and be able to reach the heights of spiritual perfection.  Ironically I learned that my imperfections were the exact road that would lead me to perfection. 

The great news is that heaven isn't an elite country club with limited membership.  The great news is that the Lord wants all of us to go to heaven.  The vehicle to this end is Jesus' boundless mercy. 

Lord help us to rely totally on your mercy realizing that none of our imperfections could ever get in the way of your love. Amen


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