Becoming the Best

by Jose de Vinck

All animals are perfectible: they develop instinctively according to nature’s plan. Some may learn tricks from man or be trained to perform useful tasks.

Man, too, as an animal, is perfectible according to his own nature. But unlike the animals, he is rational, and therefore he is responsible for the choice of the direction in which he will seek to perfect himself. And the choices, of course, are many and varied. The variety and elasticity of the human body and mind are amazing.

Many skills seem incredible to the unskilled. Take for instance the feats of Olympic champions and of the record-holders in every field of human activity. Think also of the skills of highly trained medical doctors, scientists, and industrial leaders.

And do not forget the skills of the soul: the skills of poets, musicians, artists, craftsmen.

How is a skill acquired? By dedication and prolonged effort.

The champion goes through gruelling hours of training, for example, and the intellectual is never finished with his studies.

But here is the crucial point, the point in which all things are related to the “crux”, the Cross of Jesus Christ.

What good will it do to the world to develop enough skill to become the world champion golfer or the greatest architect of all times, if one is not also a saint?

There is nothing wrong with athletic or intellectual endeavour as such, but the modern error is to make it a goal for total dedication while disregarding the fact that it is only a means to man’s spiritual end.

It is, of course, possible for a champion or a highly successful business man to also be a saint. But in order for this to happen, he needs to have seen all things in due proportion and have made once and for all the choice of direction of his perfectibility according to the order of reason.

He needs to have placed his journey to God before all else.

Adapted from Restoration October 1961