Thought of the day
8/25/2020 5:47:42 AM

Perfection is within


Blessed Columba Marmion (1858-1923)


The "instruments of good works" (Christ the Ideal of the Monk)

Perfection is within

We must arm ourselves against a certain false idea of perfection that we sometimes meet among less enlightened souls. It can happen that these latter place all perfection in a purely external and material observance of rules. Although what I'm going to say is severe, I don't hesitate to say it: the above mentioned assumption limits, or threatens to lead to pharisaism. And that is where the danger lies. (…) In the eyes of the crowd, the Pharisees passed as saintly persons; they thought of themselves as saints and made all their perfection consist in the exactness of their exterior observances. You are aware, too, that their fidelity to the letter and their punctuality were so meticulous that examples people give of their formalism are sometimes laughable. Not content with so scrupulously keeping the law of Moses - which is already a heavy burden - they added to them a whole catalogue of prescriptions of their own devising that Our Lord termed "human traditions" (Mk 7:8). All these were observed so well that one couldn't have found anything for which to reproach them on that account: impossible to find any disciples of Moses who were more exact! (…) You will say to me: "Shouldn't we observe everything that is prescribed?" Certainly we should. (…) Only bear this mind: what matters about our observance is the interior principle with which we animate it. The Pharisees observed everything exactly but it was so as to be seen, to receive the applause of the crowd, and it was this moral deviation that ruined the foundation of all their works. As for external observance, minutely kept but for its own sake and without anything to ennoble it: let us say that, at the least, this is not in any sense perfection. Our interior life should be the soul of our exterior fidelity. And this latter should be the result, the fruit, and the manifestation of the feelings of faith, trust and love that reign in our hearts.