Perfectionism and The New Order
Why over these past 40 years have we so ambitiously sought after the forbidden fruit of earthly perfection at the expense of our immortal souls?
"Our Faith was called to be in the world, but not of the world, but it has increasingly allowed itself to be drowned in the seas of earthly notions and values to the absence of divine and eternal concepts which were as lifeboats within or bridges over such waters. The faithful are slowly but surely being doped with the narcotic of the earthly over the awareness of the eternal and divine, and losing their sense of what is and is not the true Faith. The New Age, Feminist, Masonic, and secular influences, which have been allowed to creep and seep into our Faith, are all based on the perfectionist delusion that 'perfection' is what the world, and society, tells us it is. These influences are not unlike serpents strangling the True Faith and enticing the children of Adam and Eve to fall yet again to the lure and allure of earthly perfectionism."
Editor's Note: We are pleased to announce Gabriel Garnica will be contributing many articles in 2004. Heaven is once again under attack by those who would seek to ignore and overthrow God's majesty and authority. Gabriel Garnica, educator and attorney, will submit regular insights and commentaries to remind and help guide readers toward a deeper and more assertive faith. Touching on topics and issues ranging from personal faith, doctrine, education, scripture, the media, family life, morality, and values, Gabriel's notes will be music to tradtional ears but unpleasant tones to those who have bought into the misguided notions so prevalent and spreading in today's Catholic world.
The dictionary defines perfectionism as an obsession and preoccupation with reaching some perceived standard or level of "perfection". The present society sees this condition as something to be embraced because perfectionism itself reflects three dangerous and very harmful notions about the world, its institutions, and its beliefs, which this world represents.
The New Apple on the Tree
Adam and Eve received many blessings from God Almighty, yet they fell for the devil's trap of reaching for more, even beyond the abundance, which The Lord had bestowed upon them. Underlying this first sin are three dangerous notions inherent in perfectionism. Each notion has serious implications for the way we see the world, its institutions, and our Faith.
The first poison of perfectionism is the idea that there is even such a thing as earthly perfection. Perfectionists are obsessed with reaching their notion of perfection in terms of this earth, and by the measures of this earth. All sin is ultimately based on seeing things only in earthly terms, by earthly standards, without perception or concern for the eternal. Since this world is tainted by our human weaknesses, errors, and vices, it cannot ever be perfect and nothing simply based on earthly measure can ever be "perfect", so perfectionism, which implies earthly perfection is possible, is a fool's gold which denies human imperfection, the need for humility, and the ultimate superiority of eternal standards. More often than not what this world values as worthwhile pursuits turn out to be superficial, selfish, greedy, arrogant goals if undertaken without regard for the eternal and for God. Adam and Eve's first sin was created by the idea that they could be greater than God through anything they could ever find on this earth! We can never find any kind of perfection if we seek it through earthly terms.
The second poison of perfectionism is the notion that we can reach any kind of perfection on our own terms, through our devices, without God. Inherent in perfectionism is the idea that I am the ultimate creator of my destiny, that I can reach "perfection" my way through my efforts and moves. More often than not such a notion ignores others as mere obstacles in the way or cogs to be moved on my road to perfection, and therefore leaves little room for the kind of service, love, and charity exhibited by Christ. Why waste time helping and worrying about others when I have so much to accomplish and so high to go? Any goal sought without concern for the eternal and for God will necessarily ultimately draw us away from God through the grasp and pull of earthly values. Our Lord alone is our path to perfection, not of this earth, but of the eternal variety. It is obvious that Adam and Eve wanted to move beyond God and His orders to them and that they felt empowered and capable of acting without regard for The Almighty.
The third poison of perfectionism is that it creates an obsession with change and constant "improvement". If one believes that one can reach perfection on this earth and in terms of this earth without God, there is much work to do to reach that "lofty" goal. There is an inherent belief that anything and everything can be "improved" and updated. Since we are on a constant road toward perfection, then what is behind us, what was true and accepted before, must have been an inferior or less perfect thing, which we must shed if we are to move forward. Again, Adam and Eve ate the fruit to shed their former limits and be like God. Despite all that God had given them, they perceived the need to "improve" and "update" their status! In fact, this is the slippery slope of perfectionism. First, it tells us that we can reach perfection on this earth. Then, it tells us that we can reach that perfection by acting and making changes without God. Finally, it encourages us to make such changes without God. Ultimately, it only creates sin, pain, unhappiness, and isolation from God, as Adam and Eve found out.
The New Order is The New Apple
While not all change is bad, any change without God and based on this earth is a path away from God and toward perdition. Any serious meditation upon the changes in liturgy, in practice, in worship, in tone, and in philosophy of our Faith over the past forty years shows that most, if not all, of these changes were made in terms of man and earthly notions. What worked for so long has slowly been discarded piecemeal like some junk at a flea market all in the name of change, improvement, updating. Every single bit of change is ultimately based on a notion of self-as-god blessed with unique insights and perspectives foreign to past leaders, Saints, and Doctors of The Church!
Our Faith was called to be in the world, but not of the world, but it has increasingly allowed itself to be drowned in the seas of earthly notions and values to the absence of divine and eternal concepts which were as lifeboats within or bridges over such waters. The faithful are slowly but surely being doped with the narcotic of the earthly over the awareness of the eternal and divine, and losing their sense of what is and is not the true Faith. The New Age, Feminist, Masonic, and secular influences, which have been allowed to creep and seep into our Faith, are all based on the perfectionist delusion that "perfection" is what the world, and society, tells us it is. These influences are not unlike serpents strangling the True Faith and enticing the children of Adam and Eve to fall yet again to the lure and allure of earthly perfectionism.
Tradition is based on Earthly Imperfection and Eternal Perfection
The tradition of our Faith is one of redemption, forgiveness, sacrifice, mercy, and charity, which all embrace imperfection. Even Christ, perfect as He is, allowed Himself to be subject to the limits and sufferings of this imperfect world. Today's Feast of His Circumcision confirms that. The Holy Bible is nothing if not an encyclopedia detailing humanity's imperfection and God's love and assistance to relieve and transcend that imperfection. The traditionalist does not worry about imperfection because he accepts it, sees the value of it, and focuses on something other than tallies, quotas, and popularity points. We recall Christ's parable of the sinner and the pompous man in the temple. While the latter focused on his own earthly perfection and assumed his eternal perfection, it was the humble, contrite, sinner accepting his imperfection who had the true recipe for salvation.
We are told that practices, liturgy, kneeling, confession, and other elements of our Faith are outdated and old-fashioned. This implies that we have the right to discard, to pick and choose, as we wish given our unique, boundless, insights into what our Faith is about. This society's drunkenness with its own authority and wisdom is reminiscent of the devil's fall from grace. The Fathers of our Faith teach us that embracing the cross is embracing our humanity, our weakness, our need for redemption and forgiveness, and our imperfection.
Perfectionism, on the other hand, calls on us to embrace ourselves and ignore the cross. The New Order reflects this preoccupation with self, with popular opinion, with the superficial and temporal. This obsession finds its greatest example in perfectionism and its poisons, which invite us to ignore, to mock, to discard God Almighty and feed ourselves with the food, which this world has to offer.
Perfectionism, then, is the false fruit, which the devil offers us in the New Order by enticing us to do things our way; in a new, enlightened way without God's blessing. While this false fruit may satisfy our earthly appetites, it will surely starve us of the nutrients, which only the true practice of our faith can provide. The New Order is all about a new faith diet rich in earthly appeals but poor in true spiritual nutrients. We must avoid this "spiritual fast food" by sticking to traditional home cooking!