I worked seven days last week, over the weekend enduring two days without senior leadership. I am absolutely stressed out, not dealing with anything well, worrying about being fired, anxiety tying me in knots. Things are coming very difficult at work. Spiritually, I am drained, resorting to fear, convinced I am being humbled. The St Theresa of Lisieux quote seems appropriate. It is one thing to romanticize about being forcefully humiliated, and another to suffer the process. I am being humbled, humiliated by mistakes, forced to admit weaknesses and shortcomings to others. I can only offer God my silence and prayers, asking to be guided, strengthened in order to pursue matters with the Hospice. Time is troubled, and yet maybe all time is troubled. I feel exhausted, yet not hopeless. I know I will never drink again. Maybe for the first time in my life, I am working through situations in life that present serious challenge to my self-esteem and delusion; coping with the strenuous difficulties of advancing in life. I relate matters to living at the artist commune, living amongst highly intelligent and gifted individuals who honestly had no clue how to live their lives. Forced to embrace the concept of being a misunderstood genius they could not apply themselves constructively and advancingly to a practical, workable, way of life. They could not accept life on life’s terms. They presented the world with delusion, constantly making unsatisfied demands, and naturally the world would not accommodate. The inevitable consequence presented itself through lives of strife, addiction, perversion, turmoil, and constant change—always adapting and rearranging circumstances and situations in order to sustain personally satisfying illusions. Change, the altering of circumstance, social worlds, employment, and geography became a constant. My reading for the day steered toward the ‘The Spiritual Combat’ by Dom Lorenzo Scupoli, focusing upon the subtly of the sinful nature.
It is beyond all dispute that a willing cooperation with the graces of Heaven is the only way of escaping this delusion…. When I say “willing cooperation” I do not mean mere desires, or feeble and sterile resolutions, by which so many are deceived. The following are the reasons:
First. The foundation for such desires and resolutions is not mistrust of one’s own abilities and confidence in God. The result is that a soul, inflated with secret pride, is so blind that it takes for solid virtue what is mere illusion. The remedy for this evil, and the acumen necessary to recognize it, must be obtained from Heaven which permits us to fall. This is done that our eyes may be opened by sad experience, that we may reassign the confidence we had in ourselves to divine grace, and that we may exchange an almost imperceptible pride for a humble knowledge of our own weakness. Good resolutions will never be firm and steady unless they are founded on a mistrust of one’s own strength and on confidence in God.
Second. When we make a good resolution, we merely consider the beauty and excellence of virtue, which attracts even the most vapid minds, but we never consider the difficulties of attaining it. Consequently, cowardly souls are dismayed at the first sign of trouble and they hurriedly abandon their project. For this reason, it would be better for you to consider the difficulties which occur in acquiring virtue, rather than the virtues themselves, and to prepare yourself accordingly. You may rest assured that the greater courage you show in conquering yourself or defeating your enemies, the sooner will your difficulties diminish, and they will gradually vanish.
Third. We are too concerned with our personal advantage, rather than with virtue and adherence to the will of God. This frequently happens when we are comforted by the consolations we receive in a time of affliction. Finding that the comforts of the world have escaped us, we resolve to dedicate ourselves to God’s service.
To be free of this charge, let us be careful not to misuse the grace of God. Let us be humble and prudent in forming good resolutions. Let us not seek extraordinary favors through rash promises which are beyond our capacities to fulfill.
If we are burdened with affliction, let us merely ask to carry our Cross as we should, since it comes from God. Let this be our glory, and we shall seek no alleviation from earth, or Heaven itself. Let us ask, let us implore only that God may strengthen us in our trial, and that we may patiently undergo the trials He sees fit to send.
A prayer: Lord allow me to advance toward You within a solid sane struggle with life. Grace me with the humility and wisdom to accept reality. Darken my life if my love and desire to serve You is an escape from life. Lord open my heart to the awareness of secret pride, that subtle joy which builds in me through my devotion to You, establishing a self-esteem based upon arrogance.
Suddenly my mind went to buying donuts for St Paul Shrine. Lawyer Jim and I alternate weeks buying the donuts served after Sunday mass. Yesterday I took such pride in everyone clamoring about how nice the donuts were. Sister Regina had me organize and prepare the presentation of the donuts. I made quite a nice, colorful seasonal display, serving apple cider with the donuts. Lawyer Jim and his wife were disconcerted by what I had done, questioning my efforts, complimenting yet troubled. He purchases donuts on Friday since they are so cheap at Giant Eagle and freezes them, or he searches out some other discount, always being cheap basically. I took such pride in how dismayed he was, laughing with Sister Regina how cheap he is and how wonderful my fresh donuts were, taking great pride in what should have been a humble service of anonymity. It is not a serious sin, yet laughing like that with sister is a sign of the subtle and secret pride I possess due to my dedication to the spiritual life. When I should focus upon my serious gaps in trust and obedience, I am totally tuned to what a great man I am for supplying splendid treats.