“Be Perfect” (or, Of Steeples and Gargoyles)

November 11, 2009

“Be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”  Not “do the best you can.”  Not “try hard.”  Be perfect.  In one sense, Christians must necessarily be hypocrites: they preach a way of life they cannot live.  They preach perfection and live imperfectly.

Said another way, Christianity is a religion of failing to the clear the bar, of coming up short.  The question is, what does one do with the bar after coming up short time and time again?  Archbishop Rembert G. Weakland, O.S.B. muses over this problem in his recently published memoirs, A Pilgrim in a Pilgrim Church.  Recalling his theology studies as a young monk, he writes,

The courses in moral theology left me with the conviction that the Church’s traditional approach was to set the bar high, perhaps too high in theory, but to mitigate it by counseling compassion in practice.  While Europeans seemed very comfortable with this approach, it made us Americans uneasy.   Read the rest of this entry »