As a cantor and someone who considers herself a “recovering perfectionist,” I have yet to experience a perfect Mass—to finish one liturgy without a single missed cue, wrong word, or abandoned harmony. I used to cringe at every mistake, but I have come to appreciate the distinction between feeling mortified and experiencing mortification—by which I simply mean the recognition of my own humanity.
They say the makers of Persian rugs deliberately leave one tiny flaw in their work as a way of acknowledging that only God is perfect. I admire that humility, even as I resist it. But as St. Paul said, “We hold this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us.”
How little would we grasp our need for God if we got it right every day? How much pride would reign in us if we were perfect?
I’ll take the mortification.