Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Advent with Fr. Hecker: Day 3

The two poles of the Paulist character are: first, personal perfection. He must respond to the principles of perfection as laid down by spiritual writers. The backbone of a religious community is the desire for personal perfection actuating its members. The desire for personal perfection is the foundation stone of a religious community; when this fails, it crumbles to pieces; when this ceases to be the dominant desire, the community is tottering. ... The main purpose of each Paulist must be the attainment of personal perfection by the practice of those virtues without which it cannot be secured -- mortification, self-denial, detachment and the like. By the use of these means the grace of God makes the soul perfect. The perfect soul is one which is guided instinctively by the indwelling Holy Spirit.


Second, zeal for souls: to labor for the conversion of the country to the Catholic faith by apostolic work. Parish work is a part, an integral part, of Paulist work, but not its principal or chief work; and parish work should be done so as to form a part of the main aim, the conversion of the non-Catholic people of the country. ... I do not think that the principal characteristic of our Fathers and of our life should be poverty or obedience or any other special and secondary virtue, or even a cardinal virtue, but zeal for apostolic works. Our vocation is apostolic: conversion of souls to the faith, of sinners to repentance, giving missions, defense of the Christian religion by conferences, lectures, sermons, the pen, the press, and the like works; and in the interior, to propagate among men a higher and more spiritual life.

Our power will be in presenting the same old truths in new forms, fresh new tone and air and spirit.

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