Moral growth consists in the development of the threefold moral good, of nature, of grace, and of merit. Man is born into this world with some natural goodness. He is born to the supernatural life and clothed with grace in holy Baptism. By persevering good will and fidelity to grace, he eradicates the defects of temperament and passion, and Christianizes the natural good that is in him. By prayer and fidelity to his good intention he continually enlarges his capacity for grace — which God ever gives to all of good will — and grows in merit and the practice of virtue.
This growth in goodness should progress with the lapse of time, if the good will be lasting. In fact, growth in virtue is ever the infallible test of a good will. "By their fruits," said the Savior, "you shall know them." Hence, as life is necessarily a journey ever on- ward, so man's moral development should correspond to his temporal progress.
As life is activity, man cannot come to a deliberate moral standstill. If he does not progress, he must recede. If he does not ascend, he will descend. When our Savior, therefore, exhorted us to be perfect, He emphasized a law that was already written in our very nature.