St. Nikodomos of the Holy Mountain on Perfection

I have been thinking a lot about Christian perfection and I have to agree with Nikodomos of the Holy Mountain. We must always beware that we do not confuse the methodology of holiness with holiness itself.

There are many who say that the perfection of Christian life consists in fasts, vigils, genuflexions, sleeping on bare earth and other similar austerities of the body.

Others say that it consists in saying many prayers at home and in attending long services in church. And there are others who think that our perfection consists entirely in menta prayer, solitude, seclusion and silence. But the majority limit perfection to a strict observance of all the rules and practices laid down by the statutes, falling into no excess or deficiency, but preserving a golden moderation.

Yet all these virtues do not by themselves constitute the Christian perfection we are seeking, but are only a means and a method for acquiring it.

You must learn that perfection consists in nothing but coming near to God and union with Him, as was said in the beginning. With this is connected a heartfelt realization of the goodness and greatness of God, together with the consciousness of our own nothingness and our proneness to every evil…This is the law of love, inscribed by the finger of God Himself in the hearts of His true servants!

This is the renunciation of ourselves that God demands of us! This is the blessed yoke of Jesus Christ and His burden that is light! This is the submission to God’s will, which our Redeemer and Teacher demands from us both by His word and by His example

Amen. Perfection is not in rote memorization or rote actions, it is not duty-based but love based. An ethic of love requires constant and immediate attention. We must love our neighbor, and even our enemies, this is the way of perfection.

As we pursue Christ in our various spiritual traditions, in our multifarious schools of perfection, let us remember that many prayers and great fasts are the means, not the ends.

That’s all from the Practical Catholic today. Thanks for reading.


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