This Priest Lays Out the Ultimate Map for Spiritual Perfection – EpicPew

This Priest Lays Out the Ultimate Map for Spiritual Perfection

We are attempting to live holy lives, imitations of Jesus, to become closer to God and reach Paradise. Of course, it’s often difficult! There is plenty to discern on the path to spiritual perfection and even more that can be misinterpreted unless one has direct knowledge of the issue at hand. That’s why The Handbook of Spiritual Perfection was written by Fr. Philip E. Dion, C.M. In this book, Fr. Dion offers not only explanation of various spiritual means but also practical methods to integrate them into one’s life. The topics he provides are vital to spiritual growth, and conveniently, it’s all here in one book!

Motivating yourself to grow in holiness

“Lack of motivation, then, must be blamed in the first place for scant progress in overcoming a predominant fault or in acquiring some particular virtue. Our progress is negligible because we have not properly motivated ourselves. Our intellect has not made the possession of that virtue or the being rid of that fault appear as a sufficiently practical, personal good for us. Yet this is the first step that we must take on the road to improvement. Until we are properly motivated to get rid of a fault or acquire a virtue, we can study, or search for, or have pointed out to us all the means in the world, but we shall never begin to do. Until we have motivated ourselves to say, ‘I want this, and with the help of God’s grace, nothing will keep me form it,’ no amount of instruction or direction as to means will have any result.”

Identifying your predominant fault

“But how can we identify our faults and failings or sins? Above all, how can we discover our predominant fault? Well, there are three sources of knowledge. First, we can learn about it by a special illumination from God. Some special actual grace, something we read, something that we hear or see can suddenly make us realize, ‘My glory, I’ve been doing that for years and never recognized it or was never conscious of it.’ This sudden inspiration is a light from God. If he did not send us special lights in prayer to illumine us as to our carelessness in his service, we would never travel very far along the road to perfection. One shaft of his divine light cast into our souls in prayer will illumine us as to our imperfections more than twenty lifetimes of conscience-examining would do, just as one suffering sent by God will reveal more to us about our self-love and will healing hurt our pride more than a thousand years of our own carefully thought-out and self-chosen penances would. These split-second revelations of God’s wisdom flash into our soul only when it is in the quiet of prayer and not moving about with its own activity and imaginations and human reasoning.”

Allow God to sanctify you through the people, things, and events in your life

Every creature is God’s instrument. This is a fact that we customarily ignore. We like to think of the Holy Spirit coming to us and of God working in us in his invisible way. That is, we like to think of God’s coming through the infusion of grace, through his strengthening of our soul and invigorating us, that we might be transformed and sanctified in a painless way, while we sleep, as it were, through the operation of the Holy Spirit. But we forget about God’s visible comings to us and his visible visitation of us through the creatures with which we come in contact. We forget that every single thing and person, animate and inanimate, that touches on or affects us in any way is God’s instrument, through which he is operating in us and sanctifying us, especially by giving us an opportunity to empty ourselves of self-will. If all of creation and all creatures are instruments that Almighty God has given us to grope our faltering way to him, then, for a greater reason, everything, every creature, is an instrument through which God carried out his work of sanctification in us. God uses everything as a means to sanctify us and to bring us to him. That is why St. Paul tells us that to those who love God, ‘all things work together unto good.’ All things! He excludes nothing, the good, the bad, or the indifferent.”

Learn to make your confessions more fruitful

Try to find and confess the cause of your sins. In the confession of venial sins, so often we say, for instance, ‘I was disobedient.’ That is what we did, but do we ever tell why we were disobedient? It could be for many reasons: because we were proud; because we were arrogant; because we were moved habitually by human respect. Again, we might say, ‘I was uncharitable.” That is what we did, but what we are is self-opinionated, attached to our own judgment, intolerant of any opposition. When we are confessing our venial sins thus, when we take the trouble to try to discover and to mention the cause, the root fault that underlies the surface rash, we produce a twofold beneficial effect. First, we realize more vividly our sins and their intrinsic nature and evil and are thus more strongly motivated to avoid routine in confessing them and to struggle more courageously against them. By confessing the underlying causes of our external faults, we likewise invite direction from the confessor, who, seeing that we care enough about our own advancement to use some means to achieve it, is moved to interest himself and apply his efforts to the same end.”

Be humble

Humility is the truth of what we are before God. But this complete helplessness and insufficiency does not present the entire true picture of us. There is more. In addition to depending absolutely on Almighty God for every gift we have, including the major gift of existence, we have abused and misused his gifts and become worthy of punishment. Therefore, not only are we not accountable for anything good that we have; but we have, by sin, forfeited our right to anything good we have. By sin we have merited any evil that could possibly befall us as a punishment of sin…Therefore, humility is the disposition of will to retain the tendency in all of us to claim esteem beyond that which is our due. If we are humble, there will be no posing, no pretense, no attempts to appear better than we really are, to be something that we really are not. Humility implies all of that and more!.”

For all these tips and insights into attaining spiritual perfection and more, pick up a copy of Fr. Philip E. Dion’s The Handbook of Spiritual Perfection.