The Degrees of Perfection - St. John of the Cross
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Degrees Of Perfection
1. Do not commit a sin for all there is in the world, or any deliberate venial sin, or any known imperfection.
2. Endeavor to remain always in the presence of God, either real, imaginative, or unitive insofar as is permitted by your works.
3. Neither do anything nor say any notable word that Christ would not have done or said were he in the state I am, as old as I, and with the same kind of health.
4. Strive for the greater honor and glory of God in all things.
5. Do not omit mental prayer for any occupation, for it is the sustenance of your soul.
6. Do not omit examination of conscience because of any of your occupations, and for every fault do some penance.
7. Be deeply sorry for any time that is lost or that passes without your loving God.
8. In all things, both high and low, let God be your goal, for in no other way will you grow in merit and perfection.
9. Never give up prayer, and should you find dryness and difficulty, persevere in it for this very reason. God often desires to see what love your soul has, and love is not tried by ease and satisfaction.
10. In heaven and on earth, always the lowest and last place and office.
11. Never interfere in what you are not ordered to do, or be obstinate about anything, even though you may be right. And if, as the saying goes, they give you an inch, do not take a mile. Some deceive themselves in such matters and think they have an obligation to do that which - if they reflect upon it well - in no way obliges them.
12. Pay no attention to the affairs of others, whether they be good or bad, for besides the danger of sin, this is a cause of distractions and lack of spirit.
13. Strive always to confess your sins with a deep knowledge of your own wretchedness and with clarity and purity.
14. Even though your obligations and duties are difficult and disagreeable to you, you should not become dismayed, for this will not always be so. And God, who proves the soul by a precept under the guise of a trial [Ps.94:20], will after a time accord it the experience of blessing and gain.
15. Remember always that everything that happens to you, whether prosperous or adverse, comes from God, so that you become neither puffed up in prosperity nor discouraged in adversity.
16. Remember always that you came here for no other reason than to be a saint; thus let nothing reign in your soul that does not lead you to sanctity.
17. Always be more disposed toward giving to others than giving to yourself, and thus you will not be envious of or selfish toward your neighbor. This is to be understood from the viewpoint of perfection, for God is angered with those who do not give precedence to his good pleasure over that of humans.
Soli Deo honor et gloria.
Photo by Dan Burke - Statue in Medina del Campo where St. Teresa and St. John first met.
Taken from the Collected Works of St. John of the Cross - Published by ICS - Used with permission