Practice makes perfect

This can be applied in some ways to the spiritual life.

The acquisition of virtues is a long, arduous process.  But once one has the habits which are virtues, they can appear to be easy.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Kind of analogously, just as the love of the game drives one to perfection, so the God-given love for Christ draws one through, with and in Him to the perfection of Our Heavenly Father Himself. Cause for rejoicing! “My yoke is easy, my burden light.”

    [Good point. And as the Angelic Doctor points out, prayer and play are similar in that they are pursued for their own sake.]

  2. Cantor says:

    If you’ll turn your channel to the upcoming Little League World Series (starting Thursday on various ESPN and ABC stations) you’ll learn that young people can be every bit as virtuous — and precise — as the old!

  3. Jack007 says:

    Sad to say I’ve never heard of this player. Our hometown team is dismal and thus gets very little local support.
    I’ll be out at the ballpark to see a Royals game Thursday night. It will be my first in over five years.
    You can bet I’m gonna be watching for, and talking about this kid! :-)

    Glad to see that Fr. Z is such a baseball fan!

    Jack in KC

  4. That is awesome. Too bad it was against the Detroit Tigers.

  5. Ruth says:

    Yep this kid is amazing and I’m a Tigers fan!

  6. Joan M says:

    But, practice does not make perfect. Practice makes permanent.

    When I was involved with Taekwondo I made sure to make this point. Many students thought that they were well on the way to perfection with lots of practice but were really mediocre. Why? Because what they were so studiously practicing was poor technique.

    So I would explain to them that if they practice perfection, perfection will become permanent. Those who really did want to improve then understood that they must really hone in on what was good technique and practice that if they wanted perfection.

    In the spiritual life it is the same.

  7. Supertradmum says:

    When was the last time anyone here outside of the TLM Masses heard a sermon on the pursuit of perfection? Most of the modern Catholic priests hold the mushy Protestant idea that one cannot attain perfection of the virtues, so one must accept the status quo. This idea is contrary to centuries of Catholic teaching, as seen in the Epistles of St. Paul, as well as Christ’s command to be perfect, as in Matthew 5:48, “Be you perfect, even as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Garrigou-Lagrange emphasized this in his great work on the pursuit of holiness. On the Three Ages of the Interior Life, copiously quoting St. Thomas Aquinas. Why this message, that the perfection of the virtues is not only possible now, but commended by the Lord Himself, has been dropped has to do with the denial of grace, the denial of the Incarnation, and the equating of this horrible idea of “wholeness” with holiness, not the same thing. Even in the fantastic notes to the Navarre Bible’s Epistle to the Ephesians, also a work quoted by Lagrange, this idea of the Kingdom of God being now and involving a personal maturity of the members of the Church is clearly set forth as the pursuit of the perfection of the virtues. Thank you, Father Z, for bringing up a subject long neglected by pastors and teachers of the cloth.

  8. benedetta says:

    That’s really cool. There is recognition in some secular fields of the necessity of acquisition of virtues and development of character but sadly the Church, which is expert in the field, for whatever reasons isn’t involved in this right now and sometimes even seems to fear the topic which as Supretradmum and others point out the Church does value as the universal call to holiness. Young people need social contexts and commitment of others in guiding them through. For me since I had not the opportunity in youth but came to realize the necessity of it first in secular context, then realized its import in the faith, the ways I can learn include reading up on others’ paths here, reading the commentaries online of those accomplished in apologetics, and, through then teaching it myself in the home, one can’t just teach what one doesn’t try to do even if a struggle to incorporate in one’s own life, and the best models or guides have achieved some mastery. I know there are programs and guides out there so I hope that in future at parish levels small sharing groups would take this on as an outreach effort and program, for adults of generations who had no introduction to these. Obviously it would take a recognition at pastoral level of the value first off and then some laying the groundwork in communicating how it is helpful. Oftentimes I am puzzled why the most non-controversial but very constructive things are none to be found when there are various other things going on. But I have learned over time to not ask why and be thankful for the spiritual guides in my path, for instance a great many commenters on this blog who I have learned from along with Fr. Z’s posts.

  9. Random Friar says:

    Francoeur’s got a cannon on that arm!

  10. Scott W. says:

    I had to look it up because the ESPN presentation says that he threw the ball “farther” than a pitcher. I thought it was supposed to be “further”, but it looks like they were correct in that farther refers specifically to distance and further to time or amount.

  11. Archicantor says:

    I am bemused by Supertradmum’s contrast of virtue ethics with the “mushy Protestant idea” that perfection cannot be attained. As an Anglican, I was reminded of a letter by the instigator of the Catholic Revival in the Church of England, John Keble (1792-1866), about how the doctrine of justification by faith, at least as it is popularly received, serves only to “numb” our understanding of our true moral state, so that we think we are walking on “dry stones” when in fact we are floundering in the mud. I quote the whole thing here, from the posthumous collection of his Letters of Spiritual Counsel and Guidance, and it makes me think a lot of Fr. Z, actually, who, while concerned for “comparatively external points”, is nevertheless Zealous primarily for what such externals signify and support:

    LETTER XIX. On the Evils resulting from Disuse of Confession in the English Church.

    Another reason for my being a worse correspondent than usual, is that somehow or another the Parish takes up more and more time; as one gets more acquainted with the people, more and more things occur which make me think a visit worth while. This is a reason for which I ought to be very thankful, though it is sad to think, after all, how very little one knows one’s own people. We go on working in the dark, and in the dark it will be, until the rule of systematic Confession is revived on our Church.

    This is one of the things which make persons like Mr. Gladstone [1809-98, MP and later Prime Minister], however competent in most respects, yet on the whole incompetent judges of the real working of our English system [Gladstone, in sympathy with Keble on many points, saw the Established Church, subject to Parliament, as a divine system; Keble, by contrast, accused the government of apostasy]. They do not, they cannot, unless they were tried as we are, form an adequate notion, how absolutely we are in our parishes like people whose lantern has blown out, and who are feeling their way, and continually stepping in puddles and splotches of much, which they think are dry stones.

    Then the tradition which goes by the name of Justification by Faith, and which in reality means that one who has sinned, and is sorry for it, is as if he had not sinned, blights and benumbs one in every limb, in trying to make people aware of their real state.

    These are the sort of things, and not the want of handsome Churches, and respect for Church Authority, and such like comparatively external points, which make me at times feel so disheartened about our system altogether, and cause a suspicion, against one’s will, that the life is gone or going out of it.

    And this is why I so deprecate the word and the idea of Protestantism, because it seems inseparable to me from “Every man his own absolver;” that is, in other words, the same as “Peace where there is no peace,” and mere shadows of Repentance.

  12. Katherine says:

    I called my 17-year-old son, an avid Royals fan, over to the computer to watch this. He said that he and Dad had already replayed it on ESPN a few times. Then he added, “Of course Fr. Z linked to it, he knows awesome when he sees it!”

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