We continue on the first chapter " Readiness to
Change " by Von Hildebrand.
Natural readiness to change diminishes with age. "Only a love of change for its own sake, but as aspiration towards higher values: an eagerness for education, for enriching and ennobling oneself. Person enlivened by the virtual rhythm of youth, and you will find in him a certain forcefulness and daring which facilitate that aspiration towards higher things. When men become older and, within the framework of natural tendencies their characters and peculiarities undergo a process of solidification , the natural mobility. We can no longer expect them to revise their mentality and to re-educate themselves, for they are already cast in a rigid mold. The natural readiness to change is gone, its place is taken by the attitude of a person conscious of his maturity. The readiness to change, the qa like receptiveness towards Christ will tend not to vanish but to increase as man grows into a state of maturity. This progress towards simplicity, which is part of the spirituals significance of advantage in age, I slimmed to a consolidation in Christ. Attainment of full maturity also implies eternal youth in a supernatural sense. It implies that the readiness to change, the determination to become a new man and the unconditional willingness to crucify the old self should increase. "
I believe here, VH is pointing out that the hungriness or drive to change is generally when we are younger where through our quest for knowledge and more importantly the truth. However, as for an older person, who is more settled in doesn't have the drive for change. In other words you can't teach an old dog new tricks.
"Enhance our alert readiness to change towards greater proximity to God, so that His features may be engraved upon our souls. And this is equivalent to becoming more and more free from ourselves: ridding ourselves of everything which, though it be rooted in our nature. Our readiness to put off our nature in order to put on Christ, constitutes the standard criterion of our religious progress. When being privileged by God and drawn nearer to Him, we must ask ourselves: do we possess this readiness to change? And how far do we posses it? Unless we can answer that question favorably, we are not in the right religious condition. If I am really intent on becoming another man I will not claim the right to determine the limits between what can, and what cannot. The readiness must be present, on our part, to be changed and shaped to an indefinite degree at the hands of God , wherever he chooses to intervene by the agency of our spiritual director or of religious superior."
Here VH goes further that it's a tall task to want to change as a new person , especially to be Christ like if we are not already. It's because as a younger person can challenge themselves to improve knowing we have time to grow, however time is not something we control. However, as stated above, we need to progress, to be more committed to being close to God not by our word (prayer, attending mass), but also by action (being a good example to other, serving, charitable, etc). The only real way we can try to do this, is to be coached by someone who is spirituality strong.
Spiritual continuity is consistent with readiness to change. "There is no contradiction between the Christians readiness to change and the principle of moral continuity. We remain aware of the ultimate unity of all truth and all values in God. We must keep in view and continue to recognize whatever valid truth we have seized. The man who is prey to discontinuity accords an illegitimate priority to what happens to be present in his consciousness. He neglects more important and more valid impressions for the sake of present ones. He fails to preserve his contract with basic general truths and values beyond the range of mere present interest. Continuity,then, consists in the twofold capacity to maintain our comprehension of basic truths, experience all things against a background of these truths, and to maintain particular aspects of great validity as against new ones which happen to be less substantial. The selfsame motive which impels which impels the person with continuity to cling imperturbably to truth will equally commit him to be ready accept every new truth. It implies, therefore, that the higher value should take precedence of the lower one. In granting priority to a higher value, once it presents itself, we give proof of continuity."
I believe here that VH is noting that in order to make that extra step, to truly follow our Lord and transform, there has to be some kind of base in our spirituality, and so what we have absorbed from how we were raised or learned in the past, must be kept and continued.
Continuity actually presupposes readiness to change. "Continuity is a prime condition of spiritual growth, and even more of a transformation in Christ. Only we must always remain changeable in the sense of remaining, upon each level securely attained, susceptible of ascent towards yet higher levels along the path of transformation in Christ. This requires our capacity to discern whether the new impression is really a more valid and relevant one. On the basis of continuity alone shall we able wisely and fruitfully to confront the new thing with the old so as to avoid falling back from a higher level to a lower one."
We must not at any time feel conformable at the state we are in our relationship with God or spirituality, we must always look to improve, or even at time get back if we have fallen down.
Readiness to change preserves true individuality. "Now the readiness to change, as discussed here, refers in the first place to all the negative and ultimately spurious tendencies in our nature which oppose a barrier to our control by Christ. No denial of the person's particular nature as willed by God is implied in this transformation. Best illustrated by the example of the saints. He no longer lives but Christ lives in him."
Lets face it , one way or another, we are not willing to let it be in "God's hands", we don't want to loose our personal control. As noted, the saints let God in themselves, we all have to do the same also.
True vs. false individuality. "We have already seen, the uniqueness of every person is something to be carefully distinguished from what is commonly subsumed under the term individuality. This so- called individuality originates from various factors, such as the experiences a man has undergone, the wounds that have been inflicted upon him; the environment in which he has lived, the education he has received. The postulate of a readiness to change does not refer to individuality. The essence of every human person supposes a unique and incommensurable task; it is destined to unfold and to operate in a direction inalienably proper to it."
This term "individuality" is used in other area's, such as for married people living so called married live, because they struggle to choose to love each other fully, it's a hard "task". Same is our relationship with God because we were at times exposed to being #1, have our rights, everything should be about us, especially now the culture we live in.
False self-appraisers hinder readiness to change. "Two dangers which are naturally apt to arise. People of certain type characterized by a proclivity towards spiritual depression. Such a person leaves unused the talents committed by Gods call. People of this kind, when speaking of themselves, even are wont to deny the virtues they naturally posses; such is their lack of confidence. They are bent on lowering their stature as much as possible. The inverse type of deviation is exemplified by the man who, while not lacking a certain Elam, refuses to take account of his limitations and is thus driven to magnify his stature artificially. Zeal is nourished at heart by pride. He misjudges the limitations of the natural talents which God has lent him. These attitudes, that of undue depression, and that of forced zeal, to put it briefly, are reprehensible. The supernatural readiness to change steers clear of both these dangers. While he is conscious of his wretchedness, he will not sink into resignation; for he possess a supernatural zeal for perfection. The state of fluidity in relation to Christ, and readiness to leave behind everything, particularly one's own self."
It's clear that at times, we don't feel worthy being as Christians, then we don't feel we can be more active in our spirituality, thus believing we can't bring others closer to Christ, or even our selves. St Paul has made this clear, through our weaknesses, God grace is sufficient. Also, look who Jesus choose to be his Apostles, fishermen, tax collector and a traitor. No matter what our status is, God can see in our hearts and use it for his will.
Fidelity to error in not a virtue. "Adherence to errors is a bad thing. Fidelity is but a manifestation of that continuity by virtue of which we pay consideration to the immutability and the eternal significance of truth and of the world of values. There is only one fidelity to which we are absolutely committed: that is, fidelity towards God."
Again, we must be committed to God , no matter how much we sin.