Tuesday, August 2, 2016

OUR RENEWAL: RESCUING HUMILITY FROM SHAME (PART 2)

(Posted by Glaucon Jr)
       (FYI: not my child)

All of us here at in the JungleWatch Nation seek the renewal of the Church on Guam, and we all have to re-learn that at its heart is the need for genuine humility. Yet, with decades of bad catechesis that substitutes self-loathing in the place of humility as the proper response to shame, a lot of poor souls have actually been spiritually poisoned (whether their catechists know it or not). 

That's why we have these short pieces on JungleWatch about renewal--to complement the fight we must all fight. We must get back to what we know is of Christ, not just our opinion or assumption. It's not enough to fight without knowing the Faith we fight for, and if we proclaim the Faith without that kind of moral virility that the other JW writers have (all apologies to LaPaz) would make me just plain slothful.  So read if you have a few minutes to reflect, or don't if you're not of the mind.  Better yet, comment and tell them what excites you, what you want to know, what the Faith needs. Tell your friends. Whatever it takes.

Either way, our subject: shame is what we feel--what we know--when we sin. It can go two ways from there. Our fallen nature drives us to self-hatred. Humility drives us to love, of God and our neighbor and ourselves.

So now that we’ve looked in part one at how and why self-loathing is such an evil, we turn to the antidote: genuine humility and its companion magnanimity



For the sake of clarity and brevity, I’ll dispense with all the pious pronouncements and spiritualized definitions. I don't want to be clinical, but we need to cut to it, so if you’d like to read more about it, look up what St Thomas Aquinas says about it (if you need references from him or others, just ask). For those who doubt Aquinas, that’s too bad: Pope Leo XIII declared him “the Common Doctor” because he is pretty much the most trusted of the non-Biblical sources of theology (although no one is absolutely right all the time, including him). 

Humility is at its heart the virtue that restrains us from exceeding what is too great for us, as Aquinas would say. In our fallen human condition, we in our sinful pride continually attempt to raise ourselves above what is suitable for us. This was the first sin of Adam and Eve, and it remains our supreme temptation even on the best of days.

Humility then means we know ourselves with regard to God and our neighbor and respond based on that knowledge. Knowing our place before our Creator, we bow before the Lord and acknowledge His tremendous love in all things, from Creation to Incarnation to Redemption to everything else, and accepting in love all of that love. Knowing our place among men as creatures of this loving Lord means loving our neighbor as ourselves.

We can go on and on with many many books, but to grossly simplify it, humility is knowing what we are—as we really are—and proceeding accordingly.

But this is clearly not self-loathing, self-hatred, or any of those other counterfeits of virtue. Self-hatred combines hatred of sin with hatred of self and makes us diseased creatures--not diseased by sin (especially when forgiven sacramentally) but diseased by the lust for condemnation. It doesn’t take long for human nature to go from being fallen to being viewed as devoid of any goodness at all.

But of course there’s still goodness there, and it’s a goodness beyond “Well, God loves us anyway.” If He loves us (and He so does), then there must be something lovable about us.

And that’s where magnanimity comes in. If you Google magnanimity and click "images," people make it sound like it means being generous, or idealistic, or a nice guy, or whatever else. Actually, magnanimity is part of the virtue of fortitude. It is the virtue that causes us to pursue that which is greatest. In that very qualified sense, it’s the greatest of human virtues. It’s what drives us on to greater humility, greater love, greater faith.

So just as humility restrains us from exceeding what is suitable for us, magnanimity propels us to seek what is suitable, and in the spiritual life, that is love of God and love of neighbor as manifested in the virtues. It’s the seeking to grow in faith, hope, and love. It’s the seeking of justice, fortitude, temperance, and especially prudence.

In short, magnanimity is the pursuit of true greatness. The pursuit of being virtuous. The pursuit of holiness. It is, quite simply, being "great-souled."
Self-loathing seeks none of these. This self-hatred I see so often in NCW members I speak with shines through, and it’s heartbreaking. Some readers may say, “Yes, but they love the Lord.” Indeed, they may very well, but then you’re loving the Lord for a very skewed reason.

Look if your child tells you that they love you because without you they'd be miserable and have no friends and be on the streets, you'd love them and give them a hug. But if all the child ever said was that they love you because you do those things, you'd be puzzled. If after years and years, all they ever said about you was that they're worthless and you should have thrown them out into the streets except that you love them, you'd be thinking to yourself, "Son, we really need to have a talk."

Love like that isn't love; it's self-loathing finding a way to delight in its own failure and deformity. Love--even love of God--isn't seeking its own benefits, not really. We seek Heaven for its Good, for God--not because it's a stop to the pain. Heaven is perfect joy, perfect fascination, perfect...everything. Heaven is where God is, when and wherever, and God is love. 

Real love seeks forgiveness because it accepts responsibility for what it's done that is contrary to love. It's not self-hatred because of its sins. It's the recognition that it is meant for what is greater, and love for God and all His creatures because of both His mercy and His justice.

Love is seeking to be made completely whole so that it can be wholly united to Him. That is the meaning of the Incarnation. That's the meaning of the Church: to do this and bring others to happiness in Christian freedom, not blessing God because of our self-hate.

This is why we give ourselves to God, and part of the spiritual life is growing in knowledge and love of the Lord. It’s growing in the clear knowledge of who He is and who we are.

Likewise, if I really do believe that we humans are all complete crap (Martin Luther’s language and theology, not mine), then how can we possibly love our neighbor as ourselves when we don’t even love ourselves whom God loved first?

If we really do believe that we are children of God, then like a child, we must trust in Him (we and the NCW all agree on that). But children are expected to grow into becoming more and more what they were born to be—a fully mature human being just like their loving parents. Children who are raised in self-loathing only grow physically; emotionally and spiritually, they are stunted, and that’s the abuse we must all fight against, even at the risk of offending those who are already spiritually abused—in a way, they cannot help themselves.

And at its foundation, that [humility = self-loathing] formula is the the view of humility on the part of virtually everyone I personally know in the NCW.  That’s not applicable to every soul; in the NCW, I'm sure. I’m not saying it is, and I certainly hope it’s not so. These are men, women, and children who have been told by their archbishop that this is the way to be closer to Christ--not the Church, not the sacraments, not the Rosary, not the Tradition, not the poor, not even love. For the NCW, these are gimmicks, and even  the Mass and Rosary and Tradition are idols because they separate us from Christ. Separate us from Christ? Really?

The poor, average person doesn't see this, however. They just want God. They have no idea how much heresy is there, and heresy always--ALWAYS--leads to sin in some way or other. And to them, love is the only response, just as our Lord did.  And for those who lead them astray and declare themselves to know better than 2000 years of saints and pope, we respond just as the Lord did: with zeal for the Lord against these Pharisees. 

But of these humble souls among us: there is so much of this teaching on self-loathing out there that the thought of how many will react once NCW power in the chancery is gone gives me a chill. It really does. If it's not a defeatedness that they feel, it will be a dig-in-our-heels approach to the very Roman authority that attempt to defend themselves. It's a sown confusion. It's only a matter of time. Pray for them.

Either way--despair or presumptive reaction no matter how wrong--is the wrong course. Growth in the Tradition is the only secure way back. When I drifted from the Church for all those years of alcohol, drugs, and everything else I hate to even mention, it was the Tradition--from St Paul to Augustine to Aquinas to de Montfort to Pius X--that brought me back to the fullness of the Faith.And praise God so many of you who prayed for me.
That, dear friends, is why we absolutely MUST grow in holiness, grow in virtue, grow in true humility. To be there to aid our NCW brothers and sisters when the time comes will require our personal holiness and ardent prayer life, and both of these flow from frequenting the sacraments.

If we don’t do this, then we are no better than the NCW whose idea of evangelization is doing missionary work in parishes and Catholic areas—no risk and no virtue, only a continuing legacy of spiritual brokenness. 
[to be continued in a brief 3rd blurb--ps. pray for our priest. He needs you right now.]

--ADDENDUM--
Out of charity, I'm personally going to ignore whatever the Diana or those of her leanings post on their blog and recommend you do the same. There is a fundamental inability to engage in meaningful dialogue there, and for anyone seeking the Truth, it becomes an exercise in preaching to a Chia pet: no matter how hard you try, they simply can’t hear (and I'm sure they feel the same about me). I don't care about their comments, and I don't care about their inability to read for comprehension. We'll treat of the heresies and smaller errors as they come up, but why bother with the rest?

And to be honest, I have a sneaking suspicion s/he write his/her own comments. Same with the trolling here on JungleWatch. Diana's at World Youth Day, and not a peep from ANYONE on her side?

Go there and engage if you so desire, but remember the words of the Lord: "that kind can only be cast out by prayer and fasting" (and no, they're not possessed--I'm making a point, not an accusation--geez). 


As it stands, we on these pages and in the pews and streets and courthouse have far more important work to do, like growing in our Faith according to the Tradition, restoring our proclamation to the Church Roman faithfulness (a sort of renewed 'in bocca di Roma'), and ferreting out that which demonically seeks to destroy Holy Church from the inside.  

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