January 27, May 28, September 27
Chapter 7: On Humility
Let a man consider
that God is always looking at him from heaven,
that his actions are everywhere visible to the divine eyes
and are constantly being reported to God by the Angels.
This is what the Prophet shows us
when he represents God as ever present within our thoughts,
in the words "Searcher of minds and hearts is God" (Ps. 7:10)
and again in the words "The Lord knows the thoughts of men" (Ps.
Again he says,
"You have read my thoughts from afar" (Ps. 138:3)
and "The thoughts of people will confess to You" (Ps. 75:11).
In order that he may be careful
about his wrongful thoughts, therefore,
let the faithful brother say constantly in his heart,
"Then shall I be spotless before Him,
if I have kept myself from my iniquity" (Ps. 17:24).
Most of us try to keep our worst secrets and flaws hidden from
others, it's only natural. Therein lies the problem: it's ONLY
natural, and we are called to the supernatural. If we all have a
false self within us that we do see, the one we project to others,
whom we wish to impress or whose affections and regard we seek, is
even more false. We LIKE to be liked, that's no secret, but in order
to be liked we try to make a secret of our seamier sides.
We cannot fool God at all. Our false self is ashes before Him. If we
think He sees only what we project, we have a long, long battle ahead
of us. I hope it is true of all of us that at least some of that
false self falls away when we are alone with God. The more we learn
to see ourselves as truthfully and adequately as He sees us, the
closer we come to genuine humility.
What the Holy Rule is telling us is that our false self is ashes
EVERYWHERE, that the only truth, the only self is the one seen by
God. We cannot see all the truth of that self before death: God is
infinite and omniscient and we are decidedly not. We must, however,
strain our eyes to see every bit we can, seeing ever more and more of
our truth until death calls us home for a complete view. Roman
Catholic that I am, I'll bet when many get that complete view, they
are MOST relieved to jump into purgatory for a (hopefully!)quick
shower before the feast! I know I will be!
One serious problem with religious life or ministry in the Roman
Catholic church is that there is a rather generally accepted
unwritten law that what is presented to the faithful and to the world
is a false self. My church may give a bit of ardent lip service to
the concept of wounded healers, but it does NOT like them, they make
many in power terribly uncomfortable, even more so if the wound is
even remotely sexual. Of course this stance is so wrong that, to my
knowledge, no one has ever had the guts to put it directly into
writing, but the message one is expected to convey to the "sheep" is
pricelessly clear: "I'm OK and you are not...." Even more
unfortunate, the real pros at this kind of stuff often present that
stance with a greater than average level of arrogance. How winning!
What a neat response to our mandate to gather souls in the net...
That might actually work- false things generally do for a while, it's
Satan's way of fooling us. It might actually reach some truly out of
touch people, or some who have only a fleeting exposure. It does not
work, nor does any false thing, in the long run. Some people may be
helped in spite of our efforts, but to be really effective, we must
be really true, really transparent. We must stand before others as we
stand before God if we expect to bear real fruit.
I am sure that many probably disapprove of my candor in these posts
about my antibody status and my orientation. Hey, I did say it was a
rather generally accepted unwritten law, didn't I? I cannot agree
with those reservations. I think we often dress cowardice and false
selves as prudence and send them off to the ball as unsullied
debutantes. Sorry, honey, I can't pull that off: people would die
laughing if I even tried. I also know what candor has done in my own
ministry. I know that approaching flawed people as flawed myself is
immeasurably helpful to them and a considerable relief to all
concerned, as well!
Over 1,500 years ago, St. Benedict called us all to the humility, to
the truth that St. Thomas Aquinas defined as: "the agreement of the
mind with reality." Amen! That was the truth he wished us to present
to ourselves and to the world, as best we could. The closer we get to
extinguishing the false self in every arena, the closer we are to
God. The closer we are to God, the greater good we can accomplish for
His Body, His people.
Love and prayers,