Spiritual Dwarfism

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from Christian Perfection and Contemplation
Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P.

The analogy is evident. To belong to the human race, it is enough to be a child, but that is not sufficient to be a fully developed man. Further, by virtue of a necessary law, a child must grow under pain not of remaining a child but of becoming a deformed dwarf. Likewise it suffices to have a very low degree of charity in order to avoid the transgression of the precept of love, but that does not suffice for the perfect fulfillment of this first precept, which is superior to all the others and to all the counsels. Moreover, if the beginner does not grow in charity, he will not remain a beginner, but will become an abnormal creature and, as it were, a dwarf from the spiritual point of view. For example, he has faith and piety which are, so to speak, embryonic, coupled with highly developed literary, scientific, or progessinal culture. . . . For lack of development, the divine seed which is in the soul runs the risk of dying, as we learn in the parable of the sower.

Two thoughts occurred to me while reading this. The first was, "Of course. One doesn't remain a child forever, time marches one. If one doesn't grow it becomes abnormal." I thought of the hero (was it Oskar?) of The Tin Drum who refuses to grow after the age of three. A deliberate dwarf as it were. I thought too of the grotesque in The Passion of the Christ, the small, aged, hairy, dwarfish baby--the sluggishly selfish soul withholding himself from growth, deliberately remaining small in charity.

My second thought, as always upon reading something of this sort was the uncomfortable realization that Garrigou-Lagrange had held up a mirror and I was reflected perfectly in it. It was as though he looked out his window while writing those words and happened upon my image. Again, the Holy Spirit speaks and convicts when we are prepared to listen. This is a hard thing to listen to, and yet to not hear it would be to remain in the deplorable state I already occupy. A word to the wise is sufficient.

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Memo to self: read books before giving them to friends.

Too true and uhhhh Ouch here too.



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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on April 30, 2004 12:45 PM.

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