The King of Storyland once wanted to select the most beautiful flower in his kingdom to give to his daughter the princess on her birthday. The flower chosen was to be given the title, "Queen of Flowers." So the king sent messengers all through his realm and told them to bring back the most beautiful flowers they could find.
Well, when the messengers got back the throne room was filled with flowers - lilies from the marshes, violets from the leafy dell, bluebells from the hillsides. The king examined each one and chose two—the dahlia and the rose. A startlingly big blue dahlia and a strikingly red rose.
The king said, "I cannot make up my mind which is the more beautiful. The rose is lovely, but the dahlia is bigger and spreads itself and has no thorns." All the wise men in the land looked at the flowers with magnifying glasses and measured them with micrometers, but they were forced to say, "We cannot decide either."
Finally the king decided that the only thing to do was to ask the princess herself to choose the flower to be the "Queen of Flowers." She took the rose in one hand and the dahlia in the other and without a moment's hesitation chose the rose. So the rose was named "Queen of Flowers" and has been ever since. Afterward the king asked the princess how she could make up her mind when all the wise men in the kingdom could not. He said, "The dahlia has beauty. Why did you not choose it?" She answered, "It was easy, father, I did not choose the dahlia. It has beauty. But it has no fragrance."
The good actions which a person does when he is not in the state of grace, i.e.) when there is mortal sin on his soul, are called dead actions. If a person in mortal sin performs a good action, like an act of charity, that action does not profit his soul. Certain actions, like receiving the sacraments, can even add another sin of sacrilege. These actions are like the dahlia; they have beauty, but no fragrance.
The good actions which a person does when he is in the state of grace are called living actions. They do add grace to the soul. They have beauty as well as fragrance, like the rose.
That is why it is so important to remain always in the state of grace, because then our hearts can expand and blossom like the rose, giving off an odor of sweetness before God. Are our actions like the dahlia, having beauty but no fragrance? Or do they have beauty and fragrance, like the rose?
~ “Heirs of the Kingdom,” Imprimatur 1949 ~