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Imperfections – Navigating the Interior Life Spiritual Dictionary

November 26, 2013 by  
Filed under Dan Burke, Spiritual Dictionary

IMPERFECTIONS: Deficiencies of character that, although not as serious as mortal or venial sins, are nonetheless for post on imperfectionsobstacles to attaining Christian perfection and union with God. It is important to note that the intentional omission of an obligatory good act is sinful (e.g. missing Mass on Sunday without sufficient reason). However, the failure to do a good act that is not obligatory (e.g. not going to daily Mass), whether through human frailty or the difficulty of judging its obligation, is considered a moral imperfection. While imperfections reflect deficiencies in our character, and are obstacles to Christian perfection, they are not sins and therefore are insufficient matter for absolution. However, they may be confessed in order to settle one’s conscience and to grow in the spiritual life. The scrupulous would constitute an exception, and should follow the guidance of their confessor or spiritual director in such matters.

This Spiritual Dictionary Term is an excerpt from the Glossary of Dan’s book Navigating the Interior Life – Spiritual Direction and the Journey to God. To learn more, click here.

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About Dan Burke

Dan is the President of the Avila Foundation, the parent organization of, the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation, Divine Intimacy Radio and Divine Intimacy Radio - Resources Edition, Into the Deep Parish Programs, the Apostoli Viae (Apostles of the Way) Community, and the FireLight Student Leadership Formation Program, author of the award-winning book, Navigating the Interior Life - Spiritual Direction and the Journey to God, Finding God Through Meditation-St. Peter of Alcantara, 30 Days with Teresa of Avila, Into the Deep, Living the Mystery of Merciful Love: 30 Days with Thérèse of Lisieux, and his newest book The Contemplative Rosary with St. John Paul II and St. Teresa of Avila. Beyond his "contagious" love for Jesus and His Church, he is a grateful husband and father of four, the Executive Director of and writer for EWTN's National Catholic Register, a regular co-host on Register Radio, a writer and speaker who provides online spiritual formation and travels to share his conversion story and the great riches that the Church provides us through authentic Catholic spirituality. Dan has been featured on EWTN's Journey Home program and numerous radio programs.

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  • LizEst

    So many imperfections! So little time! Ha!

    May God be blessed in the struggle against them.

    • GrowinginSpirit

      Is it unusual we are to be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect; and yet we are to know that no mortal is perfect; in flesh. Spiritual imperfections will probably always be. Can it be God’s grace to know the thorn in our side, put in place by God, so that when opposition forces come at us who are not of God – we can know where they will be attacking in our weakness and we can thus lean more on God for help? And in this; comes ‘perfection?’

      The humble who need God are the one’s closest to perfection?

      • LizEst

        Yes, the humble are the closest to God’s image and likeness. He is the ultimate in humility. After all, look at all that He puts up with from us sinners…and it is we who owe Him everything. Dear God, help us and save us from ourselves!

      • The simple answer is yes. This self-awareness is very powerful as we know that often temptation comes through this channel as well as suffering that is directly from God due to the understanding. All of these benefits can drive us to Him for healing, restoration, and growth. Good question…

    • Amen to that, LizEst

  • GrowinginSpirit

    I’m so glad I happened on this site today, and the article on imperfections. Of course, we should always strive to do the good and be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect, and part of such perfection is to be compassionate. To do to others as we would want done to ourselves (and we will usually get that which we give out) To be merciful. In the vernacular of the day the words “cut them a break” would seem to fit.

    Aside from all the above, I have a specific question on imperfection bothering me for awhile. Shyness. Is it a sin to
    be shy; for in so being – we do hesitate to do good acts – but can if be intentionally omitting being helpful to someone if we are just shy? Sometimes it just takes awhile to warm up to helping others. Is shyness sinful

    • Becky Ward

      In this post Fr. John includes a list of common manifestations of ‘root sins’. Under the heading of “Vanity” it includes, ‘some kinds of shyness.’
      It would be good to think and pray about this, and discuss it with your confessor and/or spiritual director to see if it applies to you or not.

      • GrowinginSpirit

        Thank you Becky for pointing me to that article. It was quiet helpful. I did comment on the article as it applied to me (sharing a reflective moment openly) which is certainly not shy of me. I need to be aware and also kind to myself; as I grow in spirit.

      • LizEst

        I’d not seen that link. Thanks Becky.

        …btw…besides the Solemnity of the Assumption today, Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers in Costa Rica and Antwerp, Belgium! God bless you!

      • $1650412

        @Growing, I can comment on this one- I am also kind of ‘shy’ at times, under certain circumstances. And in my case, it is, in part, a manifestation of vanity, a lack of piety, and pride. But God is working with me in an interesting way in this specific thing, and I want to share this because I think it might be helpful for anyone who also finds this is a challenge for them. There is alot of freedom in Christ to be who God created us to be, imperfections and all,- and to give the gift of ourselves in communion with others, in a rightly ordered manner, according to the structure in which we find ourselves.
        The Lord is working with me on generosity in an unexpected way here. I find Him asking me to become more active in some things that involve putting myself ‘out there’ in some ways and in some arenas that are extremely uncomfortable for me at times. But this is really helping me to cultivate humility, a lighter heart, and greater interior peace. I would never have foreseen this, but it is very helpful!

        • GrowinginSpirit

          joflemings; I’ve been thinking lots about my shyness; I really don’t think it’s due to vanity or pride or lack of piety (piety meaning respect for others) Actually; my shyness is about non-assertiveness. I’ve been taught to respect those ‘over me’ (authority) yes yes what ever you say. If there’s a difficulty; take it to authority; don’t handle it yourself, you ‘worker’ you. This was the world I grew up
          in. That I do think well of authority; I don’t think pride or vanity is the reason. Non Assertive; not knowing how to say it back to someone (always thinking how they would feel; so I say nothing.)

          There’s a fine line of telling another what they say or what they do is wrong and just keeping my lips tight (mind own business)
          Ignore them. This was taught from the playground days: ignore and ‘they’ will go away. On the playground yes, not on the work playground. There it’s about power and money and if we allow folks to walk over us; they continue to walk on us.
          Non Assertive ‘nice guys’ (taken to be shy) Maybe ‘shy’ isn’t the word.Just quiet and ‘tongue tied’ / I have, however, been
          getting better through the years as I did
          work (Office Support) Less ”shy’ as I gained experience, more comfortable as in early years I med nice work ‘business’
          supportive work environments. Early 90’s;
          the start of computers and me older and
          youthful on scene and that’s when quiet
          wasn’t good enough. I believe because I
          did know how to do; but never had the
          official title designation from ‘one place’
          I was since the 90’s pushed about in
          a few places. Never quit though. Stayed
          significant time. Management decided to
          always release. Non Assertive is a career killer. (and I have since learned; that to be assertive is more being communicative ‘enough’ but not overly so. Share stories
          wrapped in advice that others can learn by without appearing to tell them what to do, use humor ‘at times’ with myself, ask questions of those who are insecure (our
          “persecutors” to build them up while getting info ourselves. Since many think
          I’m the ‘lesser’ / allow them the thought but give glory to the Father by showing the Father who I really work for, I learned well.
          Be ‘servant leader’ / and care not whether I am given any recognition ‘here on earth’

          Yes Jo; there’s freedom ‘from others’ when we know our true worth in Christ to be who God created us to be, imperfections and all,- and to give the
          gift of ourselves in communion with others, in a rightly ordered manner,
          according to the structure in which we find ourselves.

          Life doesn’t have to be ‘perfect’ nor I
          just know ‘the why’ to the thorns we
          experience; to come to lean on Christ
          more OUR TRUE SELF

  • I have been richly enlightened by your Responses. God bless you all… me the key word must be : self-awareness

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