Loving God 401, Part 1: “Proficiency” and “Rule”

Peter's Tomb Marker
“The burial place of St. Peter the Apostle”

In this final set of sermons on the classical tradition of spiritual formation, we turn to our attention to creating an individualized set of practices that can guide us to maturity in Christ (known as “Rule” or a “rule of life”).  This is what we will develop over the next 10 sermons.

We begin with another look at the maturity itself.  What constitutes maturity in Christ? What does a “mature” follower of Jesus look like in practice? What mental picture should we hold as our goal?  And, in classical terms, our goal is “proficiency.”

Peter's Tomb (edite)
Hallway leading to Peter’s tomb

Traditionally there are three “stages” of spiritual progress: novice, proficient and perfect. Novice is where we all start, and “perfect” (used in the Aristotelian sense of having arrived at one’s fullest development, not intended to express sinlessness!) is reserved for those to whom God gives a special gift of progress. In either case, one strives for proficiency (and if God grants more, that is God’s decision).

In this episode we look at the words of St. Peter, ever a wonderful example of the grace of God and the struggles of the human condition. Peter, clearly, did arrive at “perfection.” And in so doing sets a vision of what saints look like along the journey. The more we can internalize a realistic picture of what a truly mature human looks like, the more we can shape our efforts in the life of spiritual discipline to be truly beneficial.


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