By Prof. Michael Ogunu
“You must be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect” says Our Lord (Matthew 5:48).
What are the general means of perfection?
After the observance of the Commandments of God and of the Church, the general means of perfection are: (i) Faithfulness in small things; (ii) Self-control and self-denial; (iii) Order and regularity; (iv) A habit of prayer; (v) A frequent recourse to solitude; (vi) Reading spiritual books and meditation; and (vii) Frequentation of the sacraments.These are general means of perfection because they are suited to everyone in every state and condition of life.
- Faithfulness in small things: By Faithfulness in small things, we obtain greater graces and avoid grave sins more easily. As in the natural order, so in the spiritual, great things come from apparently insignificant things. We should be careful to avoid venial sins in order to be saved from mortal sins. We should avoid hurting anyone, telling little lies, etc.
“He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in a very little thing is unjust also in much” (Lk. 10:16). Our Lord promises to reward those who are thus faithful, saying: “Well done, good and faithful servant, because thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will set thee over many” (Matt. 25:21).
- Self-control and self-denial: Self-control and self-denial are acts of mortification: keeping down anger, and abstaining even from things which are permitted, but above all avoiding even the least yielding to what is forbidden. Self-control is the mark of the true Christian. If we deny ourselves of some things which are permitted, we shall find it easier to avoid what is forbidden. Self-control gives us a strong will. Self-denial is the mark of human being made to the likeness of God; a beast does not say “No” to himself.
Christ said, “If anyone wishes to come after me, let him deny himself” (Mark 8:34). One may deny oneself by avoiding what is not necessary, such as splendid dress, rich food, costly houses and cars, excessive entertainments, curiosity, etc. and above all, by doing cheerfully whatever duties are assigned to us, and accepting with resignation all trials.
- Order and regularity: We observe Order and Regularity by having a fixed time for everything; for rising, retiring, eating, work, recreation, etc.
We should imitate the Order that God has placed in the whole universe, regulating everything by law. Recreation is not against the practice of Christian perfection; it is a need that God wishes us to satisfy in the proper manner. It should, however, not interfere with our duties, or take up too much time.
- A habit of prayer: By Prayer, we shall avoid temptations and obtain blessings. We should especially make a habit of ejaculatory prayer such as “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, Have mercy on me a sinner”, “O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee”.
We should sanctify our every action by offering it to God. A good plan is to make a general offering every morning, with our morning prayers. In this way, all we do — work, prayer and even sleep — becomes a prayer to God.
- A frequent recourse to solitude: Solitude helps us grow in virtue. The noise and bustle of the world are distractions. We should once in a while imitate our Lord and withdraw into solitude, to see our faults better, and go closer to God.
Good Catholics spend a few days every year in a Mission or Spiritual retreat to resort to this valuable solitude.
- Reading spiritual books and meditation: We should have some regular spiritual reading and meditation, even if for only ten minutes every day, as food for our souls.
Meditation on the truths of faith, the life of Christ, and the lives of the saints will inflame our hearts to great virtue.
- Frequentation of the sacraments: God instituted the sacraments as effective means of grace. We should have recourse to the sacraments of Penance and Holy Eucharist as often as we reasonably can. Where else can we get more grace than from God Himself, coming in Holy Communion?
In addition to frequent reception of Holy Communion, we should also form the habit of adoring Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament.
Devotion to the Holy Eucharist is at the very heart of Catholic life. In his first message to the Church after his election, Pope Benedict XVI said that the Eucharist is “the heart of Christian life and the source of the Church’s evangelizing mission”. As we know, Pope John Paul II also frequently emphasized the Church’s teaching on the significance of devotion to the Holy Eucharist.
In his encyclical letter, MysteriumFidei (September 3, 1965), Pope Paul VI describes the graces and blessings which await those who manage to find time to visit our divine Lord in the most Blessed Sacrament.
“Christ is truly Emmanuel, that is, ‘God with us’. Day and night, He is in our midst; He dwells with us full of grace and truth. He restores morality, nourishes virtue, consoles the afflicted, strengthens the weak. He proposes His own example to those who come to Him that they may learn to be like Himself, meek and humble of heart, and seek not their own interest, but the things of God. Anyone, therefore, who approaches this august sacrament with special devotion and endeavours to return generous love for Christ’s infinite love, experiences and fully understands, not without great spiritual joy and profit, how precious is the life hidden with Christ in God, and how great is the value of conversing with Christ, for there is nothing more consoling on earth, nothing more efficacious for advancing along the road to holiness”.
Among the benefits of adoring Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament as stated by Popes and Saints are the following:
Every Holy Hour we make so pleases the Heart of Jesus that it is recorded in Heaven and retold for all eternity. (St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta)
The spiritual lives of our families are strengthened through our Holy Hour. (St. John Paul II)
A Holy Hour of prayer before the Blessed Sacrament is so important to Jesus that a multitude of soulsgo to Heaven who otherwise would have gone to hell. (Jesus revelation to Blessed Dina Belanger)
Our Lord hears our prayers anywhere, but He has revealed to His servants that those who visit Him in the Eucharist will obtain a more abundant measure of grace. (St. AlphonsusLiguori)
Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament has His Hands full of graces and He is ready to bestow them on anyone who asks for them. (St. Peter ofAlcantara)
A Holy Hour in front of the Blessed Sacrament is worth more than a thousand years of human glory. (St. Padre Pio)
A Holy Hour brings Heaven’s choicest blessings on those who are faithful to their hour (Pope Paul VI)
Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament consoles a soul far beyond what the world can offer. (St. AlphonsusLiguori)
If souls but understood the Treasure they possess in the Divine Eucharistic Adoration, the churches would overflow with adorers no less by night than by day (Blessed Dina Belanger)
Jesus Himself is calling you to spend one special hour with Him each week. (St. John Paul II)
A Holy Hour will give you more strength during life and more consolation at the hour of your death and eternity. (St. AlphonsusLiguori)
“I have a burning thirst to be honoured by men in the Blessed Sacrament”. (Jesus speaking to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque)
Even a quarter of an hour’s prayer in front of the Eucharist gains more graces than all the other spiritual exercises of the day [outside the Mass]. (St. AlphonsusLiguori)
A Holy Hour helps the one in the world in most need of God’s Mercy. (St. John Paul II)
Devotion to the Eucharist is the most noble, because it has God as its object; it is the most profitable for salvation and it gives us the Author of Grace. (St. Pope Pius X)
A Holy Hour before the Most Blessed Sacrament so pleases the Heart of Jesus, that every man, woman, and child on earth receives a new effect of God’s graces. (St. Faustina)
A thousand years of enjoying human glory is not worth even an hour spent sweetly communicating with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. (St. Padre Pio)
A plenary indulgence is granted to the faithful who visit the Blessed Sacrament, for the purpose of adoration, for at least 30 minutes under the usual conditions! (Handbook Of Indulgences – Norms & Grants)
I encourage Christians regularly to visit Christ present in the Blessed Sacrament, for we are all called to abide in the presence of God! (St. John Paul II)
Our Lord is hidden there in the Blessed Sacrament, waiting for us to come and visit Him, and make our requests to Him! (St. John Vianney)
“You can come to me (in Eucharistic Adoration) at any moment, at any time; I want to speak to you and I desire to grant you grace!” (Jesus speaking to St. Sister Faustina)
In the course of the day the faithful should not omit to visit the Blessed Sacrament! (Pope Paul VI)
The daily adoration or visit to the Blessed Sacrament is the practice which is the fountainhead of all devotional works! (St. Pope Pius X)
A Holy Hour of adoration before the Most Blessed Sacrament opens up the floodgates of God’s merciful Love upon the world! (St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta)
Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is the best time you will spend on earth! (St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta)
Eucharistic Adoration will make your soul everlastingly more glorious and beautiful in Heaven! (St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta)
Let us therefore form the habit of frequent visits to the Blessed Sacrament to adore our Eucharistic Lord as St. Francisco (one of the three shepherd children of Fatima) often did “to console the hidden Jesus” and make reparation for our sins and the sins of the whole world as requested by Our Lady of Fatima, and for grace to live a holy life.
(The writer has just published a new book titled “Prayers for Eucharistic Adoration” with the Imprimatur of Archbishop Augustine Akubeze, President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria who strongly recommends it to “all Catholics who wish to visit and adore Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament”. Copies of the prayer book are available from the author. Tel.: +2348035020068/Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
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