A most blessed feast of the Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple to
all! Happy Candlemas!
Prayers, please, for Andrew, kidney cancer which is spreading to
other organs. Thanks so much! NRN JL
February 2, June 3, October 3
Chapter 7: On Humility
The fifth degree of humility
is that he hide from his Abbot none of the evil thoughts
that enter his heart
or the sins committed in secret,
but that he humbly confess them.
The Scripture urges us to this when it says,
"Reveal your way to the Lord and hope in Him" (Ps. 36:5)
"Confess to the Lord, for He is good,
for His mercy endures forever" (Ps. 105:1).
And the Prophet likewise says,
"My offense I have made known to You,
and my iniquities I have not covered up.
I said: 'I will declare against myself my iniquities to the Lord;'
and 'You forgave the wickedness of my heart'" (Ps. 31:5).
Fear controls us, leaves us bound and gagged. We can become the
slaves and hostages of what we fear, weakened by terror, paralyzed
with dread. Yet so often these fears are irrational, so often they
can be completely cured by confessing, by opening up the secret
horror to another. Satan loves fear, because it immobilizes us; it
hobbles our gait and seriously impedes our spiritual progress.
Sometimes our great fears are realized. Then we can either go off the
deep end, or accept the fact that, although we would have had it
otherwise, a HUGE burden is lifted from our shoulders. For years, as
Dame Maggie grew older, I dreaded my cat's death. Now she is gone.
What I feared has happened. I miss her terribly, but there is a great
freedom in that, too. A very great fear has been removed,
unfortunately by realization, but removed nonetheless. I always knew
she had to die someday and I've pretty much known for a long time
that I would not go first, even though it seemed I would years ago. I
may have a broken heart, but that heartbreak also comes with a clean
slate: something dreaded has been settled.
Why on earth do you think an organization like AA, spiritual, but
pointedly secular and non-religious, has a step which requires a
general confession? Because those awful secrets hold us bound,
because those terrible dreads of what might happen if another knew
can drive one to drink or worse. But this is not true of just the
addictive personality. All humanity can get trapped in the lunacy
of: "Yeah, but if they ever knew..."
Wait a minute, folks. What have we been reading about for several
days now? GOD knew. He always knew. And God still loves us. Frankly,
what else should matter? The fact that other less important things
*DO* matter to us are merely stones in our road, signs of our
deficient appreciation of reality, which is a lack of faith.
Forgive me if I sound a little Catholic-chauvinist here, I'm not, but
like AA I am convinced that all human beings NEED confession. Sadly,
confession to God alone doesn't seem to be as effective. We seem to
need some human reassurance that the privileged someone who hears our
most terrible faults will not recoil in horror or repugnance, will
not jump off the nearest bridge is despair of human goodness. We
need, and need BADLY to get over the stupid pride that tells us no
one else could be as bad as we are!
That pride, even though inverse, works just as well as any other
pride. Satan is all too well aware of that! Pride, any pride, will
undo us if we allow it to rule us. That's why the humility of
confession is so awesomely important.
A big word of caution here- one the Holy Rule itself repeats- don't
get thrilled with the idea of confession and dash off to spill your
beans to just anyone. There is a big need for discernment. An abbot
may well be told things that none of the other monastics know, nor
should they. A confessor or spiritual director may well know things
that an abbot need not. As Father Damian of St. Leo used to say: "The
truth is not always nourishing." Without discernment, one could very
well unwittingly CONFIRM one's suspicions of self-loathing by
confessing to the wrong person. Not everyone can offer the levels of
objectivity necessary here. Never miss that fact!
Love and prayers,
jeromeleo@... St. Mary's Monastery Petersham, MA