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Moral Perfection

“Imagine the case of a morally perfect human being – one who has never committed an infraction of the “moral law.” To the surprise of many, such an individual would not constitute a model Christian, nor would they be an example of the goal of the Christian faith. It is not that the faith strives towards something less – rather, it is simply that such a model is the wrong example. Christ did not die in order to make us morally perfect. “God became man so that man could become God,” is the language of the Fathers. “Becoming God” is something that transcends the notion of moral perfection.” (Father Stephen Freeman)


“…salvation in the Church comes not from moral perfection but rather from union with Christ….The “works” that a Christian does, are properly done in union with Christ, such that the works are not those of an individual, but of our common life with and in Christ. When we fast, it is Christ who fasts in us. When we pray, it is Christ who prays in us. When we give alms it is Christ who gives alms in us. And we should understand that Christ-in-us longs to fast. Christ-in-us longs to pray. Christ-in-us longs to show mercy. The disciplines of the Church are not a prescription for behaving ourselves or a map of moral perfection. Rather, the commandments of Christ (as manifest in the life of the Church) are themselves a description, an icon of Christ Himself.” (Timothy G. Patitsas, Father Stephen Freeman)

“The life of moral perfection, according to our Bible and the Fathers of the Church, is a call to a life in Christ, that is, a Christ-like life…a life of commitment to the Lord, and a complete submission to his will. One lives only to do everything for Christ's sake, as Christ wants it and as Christ would do it.” (Fr. George C. Papademetriou)


“In Jesus we have not simply an awareness, but action and life consistent with this awareness. The awareness that two times two makes four, or that water boils at a specific temperature leaves us neither better nor worse; such an awareness belongs to the righteous and the unrighteous, to the ignorant and to the intelligent, to the genius and the simpleton. But when we experience the holy, the sacred awareness of the Son of God, in terms of beauty, or moral perfection, or a special intuition about the world and about life, this awareness of Jesus makes some demand, effects some change in us, invites us somewhere, captivates us, seduces us. And only to this Jesus do we fully and joyfully surrender our lives in faith.” (Fr. John Zeyack)


“We are constantly being told about the heroes of labor, the heroes of the war, the heroes of outer space, and we are urged to imitate them. But why exclude from this family the heroes of the spirit, who preferred moral perfection above all other achievements? If there have always been people capable of renouncing themselves, their own well-being and safety in the name of something, does this not mean that the capacity for such self-denial is the highest quality in man? In this case those whom we call saints—that is, heroes of the spirit and of moral labors—at the very least deserve no less attention than the heroes of all other areas of human life.” (Fr. Alexander Schmemann)


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