Presence of God – O my God, make me understand how necessary it is for the soul to be pure in order to be united to You who are infinite Perfection!
While venial sin always consists in a more or less slight transgression of one of God’s laws, imperfection is the omission of some good act to which we are not obliged by any law, but one which charity invites us to do. To illustrate: when I am aware of the possibility of performing a better act suited to my state, in accord with my actual capabilities, in harmony with my duties, and for the accomplishment of which I may reasonably believe that I am inspired by the Holy Spirit, I cannot deliberately refuse to do it without real actual imperfection. In this case, my refusal to perform a better act cannot be judged to be good, nor can it be justified by the thought that I am free to omit this better action since no law or commandment obliges me. This would be an abuse of that liberty which was given me by God for the sole purpose of making me capable of adhering to the good, uninfluenced by my passions. In fact, in the last analysis, my refusal to perform the better act always implies a lack of generosity, motivated by a little selfishness, laziness, meanness, or fondness for my own comfort, all of which are evidently contrary to perfection.
Viewed from this angle, it is clear that voluntary imperfection can never be conformable to the will of God, and that consequently, like sin, it is contrary to charity which tends to full conformity with the divine will. Hence, it is important for a soul striving for union with God to eliminate from its conduct every voluntary imperfection. In this sense, St. John of the Cross admonishes us: “For the soul to come to unite itself perfectly with God through love and will … it must not intentionally and knowingly consent with the will to imperfections.” Furthermore, he teaches that attachment to even one habitual voluntary imperfection suffices to impede the soul “not only from divine union, but also from progress in perfection” (Saint John of the Cross, Ascent of Mount Carmel I, 11,3).
Grant me, I beg You, O my God, a strong, generous charity, capable of destroying my selfishness down to its very roots. Oh! how well I understand that this self-love is the cause of so many of my little infidelities, of so many imperfections into which I habitually fall and which I do not take care to correct, under the pretext that they are not sins!
These faults, however, are not without importance to a soul consecrated to You and bound to strive for perfection, to a soul called by You to sanctity and one whom You invite to complete union with Yourself. How can I pretend to be united to You, infinite Perfection, if I voluntarily commit so many and such great imperfections in my life? How can my will be entirely conformed to Yours, when I desire and love things that You do not desire and absolutely cannot love?
O Lord, I feel the weight of my egoism which drags me down. This self-love would like to possess everything without effort and flees with all its might from fatigue, sacrifice, and complete generous giving! I feel the weight of the flesh which is ever trying to lessen the measure of my giving, which postpones until tomorrow anything that is painful or distasteful, which makes a thousand excuses for avoiding an act of generosity!
I know all that, O Lord, and You know better than I these secret compromises of my self-love. But You also know that I want to love You with my whole heart and to give myself entirely to You. You know that my poor desires are sincere, even if they are not efficacious. Give me a real, effectual love, capable of overcoming all the opposition of self-love, and of demolishing all its plans. You who are infinite charity, consuming fire, kindle in my soul a spark of Your love that will destroy and consume my selfishness. If self-love is the weight which slows my progress toward You, grant that Your love will be a weight still heavier to draw me incessantly to You through a total gift of self, without reserve or limit.
Note from Dan: This post on “Imperfections” is provided courtesy of Baronius Press and contains one of two meditations for the day. If you would like to get the full meditation from one of the best daily meditation works ever compiled, you can learn more here: Divine Intimacy. Please honor those who support us by purchasing and promoting their products.
Art: Detalle del grabado de San Juan de la Cruz (Detail of Engraving of Saint John of the Cross [1542-1591]), Francisco Pacheco, circa 1599, PD-US author’s life plus 100 years or less, Wikimedia Commons. Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, mirror from open source material.
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