Your weakness is My gift to you
Your weakness is My gift to you. Instead of offering Me your achievements, offer Me your poverty, your weakness, your very failure to achieve great things, and I, in turn, will accept your offering and, uniting it to My own all-sufficient Passion, will make it fruitful for My priests and for all My Church.1 So long as you come to Me humbled by your weakness and animated by a holy desire for Me alone, I will overlook the other faults that affect you and in My mercy I will erase them and give you, in their place, graces and mercies that I have chosen and designated for you and for no other, and this from all eternity.
A Benedictine Monk. In Sinu Jesu: When Heart Speaks to Heart
--The Journal of a Priest at Prayer (pp. 115-116). Angelico Press. Kindle Edition.
Our lives, in the end, are about relationships. We try each other because we are different. In community life, I would say that the greatest source of suffering can be at times, well, my brother-monks. As Sartre in his play “No Exit “stated, “Hell is other people”. I don’t agree with that, but I can understand the sentiment when I am in the midst of some sort of emotional upset.
Relationships, not just our close ones, but even with those I really don’t know, or perhaps personalities I see on the news or the internet, can bring me face to face with my own often narcissistic and childish reactions. It can bring up aspects of myself that go contrary to what I say I believe. I am no longer surprised by this, but that does not lessen the pain of the experience, even the rage.
Anger can be about some sort of injustice or another that I may experience, and I can deal with it. Rage, I believe, comes from a place much deeper, and some event, even an everyday one, can invoke it.
It makes me think, understand that who I say I am, is nothing but a construct walking over some very thin ice. It threatens to undo my carefully made ego, my humorous self, and my, what others call, my kindness. It is often a facade.
The spiritual life is not about ‘dressing-up’, though it can often be that for a while. No, our seeking after the Infinite, is, in fact, a ‘dressing-down’. It is about falling through the cracks in the ice, that very thin layer that hides the often brutal unconscious from my sanitized, self-serving thoughts about myself. I cannot go very deep unless we are able to face what is actually dangerous to myself. Not only myself but others as well. The news is full of stories when someone falls through that layer of ice and comes in contact with the ‘Id’ as Sigmund Freud would call it. The Id according to Freud is
“The division of the psyche that is totally unconscious and serves as the source of instinctual impulses and demands for immediate satisfaction of primitive needs.”
This is a gift? I would say yes, a gift that paradoxically needs a strong ego to deal with. I do believe that ‘self-knowledge’, for me has to do with embracing aspects of myself that are very painful to look at. Yet there you are, if it is part of me, not to deal with it would have me shut down, and not approach the bright light of the God-Head, in silence, or in any kind of prayer. To pray from the heart is to open up myself to the actions of ‘Infinite Truth’. It can seem like hell, but in reality, it is purgatory. A necessary step in letting go of the false idea that I have to be ‘pretty’, or ‘together’ before I can come before the ‘Face of God’, which for me is revealed in Jesus Christ.
The truth will actually set me free, but first I have to understand how unfree I can be, and bound by deep inner emotions of the unconscious. Yet when the boat starts to be buckled by the inner waves, it is then I am called to step out, even if afraid, yet buoyed by grace and the gift of faith.
Humility is based on truth, it has nothing to do with a ‘bad-self-image’. All that I see in others, what brings forth my own self-righteous rage, is in actuality a gift, showing me, myself. I can only react to what lives in me. What is different, when seeing it in others, my lies, and excuses, about ‘why’ are not present.
Lord, in Advent, this time of waiting, let me not be afraid what needs your healing, for I can’t heal myself, but have found that in your faithfulness, in my being open to your grace, and not being afraid of the pain that comes from self-knowledge, comes healing. It just takes so long. For after all these years I am still at the beginning. Well except for one thing. I trust in you Lord, and no longer have the sort of fear that used to propel me to hide from your gaze, but allows me to stand naked in your presence, for to hide is impossible, the truth, does, in fact, set me free.—Br-MD