How does one become a “Mirror of Perfection?”


A good friend and I were discussing the Mirror of Perfection and how we’re called to be such a mirror. St. Francis of Assisi has often been referred to as the Mirror of Perfection. I believe it may have been St. Bonaventure who started this tradition, which caught on in the Church and has lasted until today.

I’m remembering a few years back when I was a regular poster on Catholic Answers Forums being taken to task for always pointing to St. Francis whenever people complained about this or that. I would always say the same thing. “Look at people like St. Francis. They didn’t live in a perfect world and it certainly was a far from perfect Church.”

Now that I think about it, I’m glad that St. Bonaventure introduced the term, Mirror of Perfection. For centuries that Church has been telling us that we are called to holiness. Vatican II summed it nicely when it said “the universal call to holiness.” I like it because it’s clear that the call is not just for those of a certain religious tradition, but for all people. Everyone is called to holiness, even non-believers. How God leads men to holiness is complicated and parts of it are mysterious to us. We know that no one goes to the Father but through Christ. How Christ brings men to the Father is a whole other issue. We can get into that here, but we won’t. Suffice it to say that Christ does cartwheels to get us to the Father. In other words, he does cartwheels to helps become saints.

This brings me back to the Mirror of Perfection. Christ is perfect. He commands us to be perfect. He speaks to us about how we will be judged on the perfection of charity at the last judgment. “If you did it for one of these the least of my brothers, you did it for me.”

If we’re all called to holiness, to the perfection of charity, to be perfect as Christ is perfect, then aren’t we all called to be Mirrors of Perfection? How can one be like Christ and not reflect Christ to those around us? It’s an oxymoron. “I must decrease so that he can increase.” Those are the words of John the Baptist. The less of us and the more of Christ that people see when they come into contact with us, the better mirrors we become.

St. Francis was not the only man called to be the Mirror of Perfection. Rather, like St. Bonaventure says, he was probably the best mirror in Christian history. This introduces another concept. We can’t just reflect back an image of Christ. If you have ever been into a house of mirrors, some images are distorted. The key is to reflect an image of Christ that is as close to Christ as possible. That requires work. We don’t accomplish it over night.

We are sinners. We try to do what is right, but we make bad choices and we have to begin again. The secret that St. Francis discovered was that he recognized when he sinned and stopped the sinful action. He did penance for his sins and tried as hard as he could to do better. It was not always easy. Very often, the temptations came back over and over again. Over and over again, he put his hands into the hand of Christ, through prayer and penance. Christ guided him. Gradually, he reflected Christ better and better.

There is no great secret on how to become mirrors of perfection, nor are some called and others excluded. The call to holiness is universal. The key is to try over and over again, letting Christ teach us and not being afraid. As long as we journey with Christ, we have nothing to fear. He knows what we need to reflect him to the world. The first step to being a mirror of perfection is to learn to be sorry for our sins, to do penance and to try very hard not to sin again; but if we do, don’t panic. Christ does cartwheels to save us. Go back to him. Ask for forgiveness and try again. Always trust that each day he will bring you closer to being a perfect reflection of His love.

Published in: on June 22, 2014 at 1:35 AM  Leave a Comment  

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