An Epitome Of The Priestly Life By: Canon Arvisenet
Chapter 5: The Means Of Acquiring Perfection
Son, dost thou wish to be perfect? Hunger and thirst after justice and thou shalt have thy fill; be a man of desires and the spirit of wisdom will come to thee. If thou ardently desirest perfection, this strong desire will be a spur to urge thee on from virtue. to virtue, until at last thou arrivest at the summit of the mount of Sion where thou wilt enjoy an intimate union with thy God. Desire therefore vehemently; purpose firmly, and renew this desire and this purpose from day to day and from hour to hour. Thus, in a short time thou shalt he enkindled, in a short time thou shalt he on fire. If thou wishest to be perfect in all thy works, study to please me alone; let the pure intention of my good pleasure and of my love ever precede all thine acts. If thus thou takest care ever to act from the desire of pleasing me, know that thou lovest me with all thy mind and with all thy strength. Then thou shalt live, then thou shalt live the perfect life; for he who loves has fulfilled the law. Beware, my son, lest thou do thy justice before men, that thou mayst he seen and have praise from them. Thou shalt receive glory from them it is true, hut thou shalt. cast aside perfection. Beware, my son, of conducting thyself negligently in my service; he is not perfect but accursed who does the work of God carelessly. If thou wishest to he perfect strive, my son, to realize that I am ever present with thee and thou art ever before my eyes. Ever remember that I am a God who sees all things, and who searches the heart and the reins. If therefore thou speakest, thou thinkest, thou desirest anything or dost anything, think, speak, purpose and act in my presence. Thus, like Abraham, Enoch and Noe thou shalt walk before me in truth and a perfect heart. If thou wishest to be perfect, take care, my son, to so conduct thyself in all thy works as if thou wert immediately to die, as if it were the last act of thy life. Oh, if thou wert to do this, my son, with what fervor wouldst thou celebrate Mass, with what compunction wouldst thou deplore thy sins, with what attention wouldst thou pray. I do not ask of you, my son, great and impossible things that thou mayst become perfect. Thou art a priest; thou shouldst pray, examine thy conscience, administer the sacraments, read thine office, say Mass. Do this perfectly and thou shalt he perfect. If thou wishest to be perfect, often consider, my son, why hast thou come hither or why wast thou made a priest: was it not to please me and more surely work out thy salvation? Arouse thyself by this thought and he ever inspired by it, proceed, ever begin anew, cast away lukewarmness, conquer thy passions, restrain thine inordinate appetites. If thou strivest to attain perfection, perfection shall he reputed to thee. If nevertheless thou failest, if thou makest less progress than thou desirest, do not he discouraged. Not to have found thyself perfect for thee will he perfection. Diligently consider the obstacles which prevent thee from advancing and making progress. Remove these. See what is the origin of thy vices, of thine imperfections, for they always have some radical source. Behold Goliath; slay him and thou hast conquered. That is to say, give all thine attention to eradicating this capital sin. See, my son, the merchants intent upon gain, see how from day to day they add something to their wealth; thus shouldst thou daily add something to the treasure which thou layest up for thyself in heaven. See the artists how they daily perfect the pictures which they have painted; so shouldst thou correct thy vices, increase thy virtues. They indeed labor, my son, to obtain a corruptible crown, but thou an incorruptible one. Grant, O Lord, that I may make progress as thou commandest, that I may gauge myself without guile or flattery. Grant, O Lord, that I may always be displeased with what I am and that I may attain to what I as yet am not; grant that I may not turn back, nor remain stationary; for I know that if I shall say Enough, I shall have failed.
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