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Chaplain’s Corner

Be Perfect As Your Heavenly Father is Perfect

June 13, 2024

Courtesy of Rob Pongsajapan

“Be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48)

These are the words of Jesus Christ spoken to His disciples and are directed to us now. How are we to accomplish this monumental task? Jesus also said, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind …. You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 37:37). This is the roadmap to perfection.

I know what you are thinking. How can I ever be perfect? Isn’t it true a well-trained surgeon can approach perfection in the operating room by performing surgery over and over? Isn’t it also true that a well-trained clinician can approach perfection caring for sick patients by what they do in a repetitious manner?

The same is true in the spiritual life. This is called growing in virtue by the grace of God. The Catechism defines virtue as, “Habitual and firm disposition to do the good. The moral virtues are acquired through human effort aided by God’s grace. The theological virtues are gifts of God” (CCC glossary). In other words, virtues are good habits when practiced, lead to God.

Let us be reminded that each virtue has an opposing vice. For example, chastity and lust, humility and pride. The Catechism defines a vice as, “A habit acquired by repeated sin in violation of the proper norms of human morality. The vices are often linked with the seven capital sins. Repentance for sin and confession may restore grace to a soul, but the removal of the ingrained disposition to sin or vice requires effort and self-denial, until the contrary virtue is acquired” (CCC glossary). In other words, vices are bad habits that when practiced, lead us away from God.

The most important virtue is humility, and the most damaging vice is pride because a prideful person will not be open to practicing all the virtues and advancing in holiness. Of course, none of us will ever be completely perfect in this world, but we can approach perfection in the spiritual life aided by sanctifying grace from the sacraments.

A humble person will strive to develop a mature prayer life. Many people with advanced secular degrees still pray like children, praying only a few minutes every day solely with prayers of petition. The prophet Elijah said to the Israelites, who were worshiping idols, “How long will you straddle the issue? If the Lord is God, follow Him.” (1 Kings 18:21)

In other words, how long will you straddle the issue? If the Lord is God, why not spend more time with Him daily in prayer? In developing the habit of prayer, why not set aside a few minutes every morning for some quiet time for God in prayer? Why not set aside 15 minutes a day praying the Rosary (that powerful prayer referred to as the “Bible on a rope”) with your family? How about reading a few verses from Scripture each day? Why not set aside one hour each week for adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, where Jesus is present in His Divinity and His Sacred Humanity? This is the best place to console the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Oh, how ignored Jesus is in in all the tabernacles around the world. How long will you straddle the issue?

June is the month devoted to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Can you think of a better time to develop the practice of prayer in your lives in order to advance in perfection?

Remember, practice makes perfect! So, “Be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect.”