Monday, December 7, 2009


Any time I make a retreat at the Monastery, I try, in the silence of the chapel, to converse with the Lord and ask what I can do to be more like Him. Unfortunately, I'm still working on the same issue: Pride. Pride in all its forms. The stealth kind, the overt kind, the insidious kind - pride is a major obstacle between me and the Lord which prevents me from being closer to Him. Actually, it is my stubborn refusal to give up my attachment to pride so I have only myself to blame. I had goosebumps when the retreat master mentioned the damage that pride does to our relationship with God. But it's also reassuring to know it's something so many other struggle with.

It is pride that causes me to become distracted at Mass. It is pride that compels me to mention things about myself in a way that is not obvious; nonetheless, I still manage to pat myself on the back in some way. It is pride that causes me to lose my temper when someone insinuates that I've done something wrong. It's pride that causes me to try and think of something clever to say to the priest after Mass. It's pride that causes me to be unable to say I'm wrong after an argument. It's pride that prevents me from covering my head at Mass. It's pride that lures me into mentioning some devotion I've acquired. The list goes on. What to do?

It's difficult to get in trouble when you keep silence. St. Therese was especially noted for her ability to stand accused of something without jumping to defend herself. More than once she had to run away to keep from defending herself and voicing her innocence, which is one of the many reasons why she is a Saint with a capital S.

It's also a work in progress to catch myself in the act of pride, whether it be in thought, word or deed. It is difficult not to relate a situation to myself and how I would handle it or like things to go. A person who is unattached to themselves would not think of him or her self in this way. Now that I know what my problem is, what am I going to do about it?

Frequent conversation with the Lord, for one thing. How many times do I become lost in my own thoughts, usually concerning some problem or another at work. Rather than dwell on things, why not spend that time talking to Jesus, whether through rote prayer or simple conversation? How many times have I relied on myself to fix one of these problems when His help is just there for the asking?

Fasting is another opportunity I so rarely take advantage of anymore. Some years ago, a priest detected that my confession was a bit too glib and he said "you need prayer AND fasting." He was right. I've gotten away from it and I need to give it another try. That priest and I are good friends to this day.

The last thing I can do, at least for right now, is think of others first. When the Virgin Mary learned she would carry the Son of God in her womb, what was the first thing she did? She didn't send out announcements or gossip to everyone she knew. She immediately departed for Elizabeth's house, where she waited upon her for the next three months. There is nothing to help you forget yourself like immersing yourself in someone else's needs.

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