Ave Maria Meditations
Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Cor 12:10)
The soul’s perfection lies in recognizing imperfection, in remembering how short one has fallen of Christ’s rule, in recalling to mind the faults and wickedness that leave their ugly indelible traces on the soul. Imperfection ensures humility and for this reason Providence leaves at least one vice, so man will not be carried off in pride: for the mind shines all the more truly for contrast with smaller faults.
The Christian can advance in virtue through temptation, and the recollection of sin only makes him cling to God with greater gratitude and longing. This perfection in imperfection not only defines the Christian’s relation to God but also supports his ties with his neighbors. Recognizing his own imperfection increases the Christian’s tolerance and sympathy for others…The Christian becomes willing to help others, and his own imperfection is no bar in helping them advance.
At the very moment holy men think themselves ruined, they are actually most successful in reaching others. Humility refines compassion, and compassion in turn strengthens the soul. Man finds true stability giving himself to others, true perfection recognizing he is but human and fallible. The omnipotent God even permitted Peter, the shepherd of the Church, to be frightened by a handmaiden and to sin in denying Christ in a moment of panic. We must ask ourselves why God did this, Saint Gregory says, and he offers an answer relevant to all who bear power: This we recognize certainly as an act performed by God’s dispensation of great mercy, so that he who was to be shepherd of the Church might discern in his own sin how he should have compassion for others. And so first the Lord shows Peter to himself and then sets him over others, so that from his own weakness he might recognize how to bear mercifully with the weaknesses of others.