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from Deep Conversion/Deep Prayer
Fr. Thomas Dubay

There are two kinds of human excellence, the first of which is on the level of natural talents, gifts, accomplishments. . . . The second and higher type lies on the level of personal goodness, integrity, virtue, sanctity. . . .

It is immediately obvious that someone can be eminent n the first area of talent and accomplishments and a moral wretch in the second. There are thew few who excel on both levels: Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Catherine of Siena, Teresa of Avila. It should be obvious to a consistent theist that to be a saint is immeasurably more important than to be a world class scholar, violinist or an Olympic gold medalist. . . .

This last sentence is the show-stopper. It should be immediately obvious to a consistent theist--first, is it immediately obvious? Do our actions, our choices, our outlooks, our interests, the direction we take on things show that this is our consistent outlook? Or do we rather tend to laud those who write well or speak well or play football well. Am I more interested in the poet laureate than in the saint down the street?

Second, I think we can read this to mean that a consistent theist's life should make this obvious. Do the things we are concerned about, fret about, talk about, lavish time and energy on, all reflect to the unbiased observer our knowledge that moral excellence is the superior excellence? Or do I have to go up to that observer and over the din of my book and television reviews, comments about this and that social agenda, remarks about other Christians and followers of other faith, inform him or her that I value above all else moral excellence.

If I am any measure (and I admit that I am at best a poor measure), our lives are not representative of the truths we claim to hold most dear. Most of us are more interested in the quality of our brew or smoke or dinner or literary circle.

The truth is that there is no harm in enjoying the simple pleasures of life on Earth. But our enjoyment of them should be secondary to our pursuit of excellence. Unfortunately, I know that it is not so for me. I pursue excellence half-heartedly as it seems to recede from me far too quickly.

Nevertheless, there is s remedy. I cannot change myself by myself. But "with God all things are possible." With God's grace and strength, I can begin to live the life that gives witness to the world of His strength and glory. When I can come to terms with my own emptiness and smallness, when those concepts are more than words stolen from other writers, I will have made some progress. When I can pray as consistently and as frequently as I should like to, when I can regulate my entertainments as well as I can my diet, when I can surrender to Beauty and make it known--then I will have made progress. All of these things are possible. Not only are they merely possible, the are potential. That is, a slight tipping of the scales, a moment of exerted will, a dollop of grace, and what could be becomes a reality.

This is true of everyone who has faith in a God who saves. It is true of everyone who wants to make the attempt. It is true of all the saints of St. Blogs. And we are all His saints, now, if we could but live our lives after the fashion of those raised to the honors of the Altar, how much better would our world and all those around us be for it?

As a great spiritual guide once said, "All is gift, All is grace." And All is for all people at all times. Gods grace, like potential energy stored within us, simply awaits our attention to be made active, simply calls for the movement of will that we need to shed our slothfulness to make. And in making that movement, grace begins the transformation of self. All we need do is get out of the way--cooperate to the extent we are able, and move forward in His light.

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Steven, thanks for this post. I hope to discuss these issues with my junior high students. (It's nice to be in a Catholic school.)

"when I can surrender to Beauty and make it known--then I will have made progress"

Steven, I'm not at all quibbling with anything in your beautiful thoughts above -- I just wanted to add that only by surrendering can God work His Beauty. The Lily with it beauty is yielded up and surrendered to God, just as the tree surrenders its beautiful fall faoliage in order to live in the Spring; we must die, shed our garments, in order to be adorned by His Beauty and to live. But you already know this.



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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on May 3, 2006 3:05 PM.

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