Saturday, February 25, 2017

Catholic Hermit's Thoughts to Bishop on Mystic Portal

This nothing consecrated Catholic hermit noticed a saved "draft" of an email sent a few years ago to my late Bishop.  These are thoughts that came to me one morning, back then, when pain was severe and the mystical state at Mass opening the soul to insights, very loving and clear.  I recall that Bishop was trying to grasp matters, which he said to me were very hard for him to grasp.

We can certainly understand how mystical experiences and insights can be difficult to grasp when so much of our lives and existences revolve around the temporal goings and doings, especially for a bishop who is responsible for many priests and various diocese employees, as well as ultimate for each person in his diocese, his "flock".  Plus, there are the interactions with other dioceses and bishops, with the general assembly of bishops twice a year, with the Vatican, as well as with the community and city leaders, various board meetings, and visiting schools and parishes, preaching, praying--when there is time if much at all.

I've had another couple of very difficult days of suffering severe pain.  Yesterday I could not think clearly enough to figure out how to install a microwave hanging bracket which needed some toggle bolts!  I've installed it before without a hitch.  So I called Craig at the lumber yard, and he kindly and patiently talked me through how to do it, while on the phone.  He knows my pain issues, and all I had to do was say it was severe and keeping me from being able to think clearly.

After I got the metal hanging strip securely installed and was off the phone, I started to pass out from the pain.  So I got to the mattress here on the floor of my tiny cell room, and realized I needed to take some pain medication.  I did not want to, and I have not for quite awhile now, but there comes a time when there is no other recourse, for safety's sake, at minimum.

This morning I'm resting longer for the back is on what I call "high pain alert."  And thus I ran across this email sent to my late Bishop, back when he was my spiritual director, prior to his grappling with the mystical realities becoming too much for him, and prior to his unexpected death.

I'm re-reading and absorbing the thoughts expressed, for they are appreciated insights given me, and I am reminded of the reality of the mystic portal.

I am living the temporal humanity of Christ.
I bear His temporal pain and breathe His soul's suffering.
But only when the human is subsumed in His mystical Divinity 
is there one Joy, one Love, the one Reality: God.

Only then do the two worlds [temporal and mystical] become one reality, the Divine Reality.
The temporal is a shadow of the full humanity of Christ, without union in the mystical reality of His Divinity.

The temporal Catholic world is a holding cell.  Humans must pass through the mystic portal in order to
come to full humanity of Christ in His Divinity, to then be one in the One in one true reality.

I hope I am stating it meaningfully, accurately; words are incompetent.

It is something like this, and I must get through the mystic portal with His physical and soul suffering, 
in order to be in the true reality, the one reality of oneness in God.

Do you see that the Sacraments, all of them, but most frequently Eucharist in Mass and reconciliation in confession,
are parts of the portal and are passage points for the temporal to enter into the mystical, and that without the One in reality
of the mystical in these sacraments, there would be nothing?  

Jesus in His full humanity is the Divine ever-flowing into within the temporal.  He is not the temporal occasionally touching the mystical.
When we pain-bearing, soul-suffering humans pass through the mystic portal to be subsumed in His Divinity, we awash the temporal
in and by His living waters.  We then may fully live His humanity divine as we have become one with the One Reality.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Catholic Hermit Ponders Verse from Mark 9

"Everyone will be salted with fire."

I love this simple statement from Jesus.  It is yet another in the Living Word that somehow I've not "noticed" before--not in a heart-quickening way.

Today I will ponder the statement and the truth of Jesus' Word.  He does not mean only some people, but all of us will be salted with fire.

This morning the physical pain rises up in the body like fiery flames.  I've been pushing the body lately, trying to keep making progress with the manual labor here as my financial shelf life is nearing the end.  Yet probably the most significant increase of experiencing pain comes from ceasing pain medications other than an over-the-counter, strong aspirin in the morning and an occasional over-the-counter pain aid such as Tylenol or Aleve.

The new normal of pain experience and sensation takes much adaptation.  Distraction of thought and making the body get up and moving seems key to success.  But the pain yet has temporal effect in the body; more rest helps, and we will see if the pain sieges occur more frequently than when taking low dose prescription pain medication.

I can view that my body is salted with the fire of pain.  This morning I read a short article on the merits of suffering in that pain of all types can help make us more compassionate as well as empathic.  Compassion is being able to relate with those who suffer; empathy is being able to actually feel from experience what others suffer.

I consider that the greatest gifts of suffering have to do with the humility that comes from pain.  Suffering is an antidote to pride--true suffering.  Of course, a person could conceivably become proud in thinking he or she is a great and triumphant sufferer.  This pride, it would seem, is short-lived if the suffering is true and allowed by God.  Pain that is allowed by God knocks pride out of us.

Yesterday I did some electrical work.  The electrician had brought a "hot" wire into the attic garret room that this nothing consecrated Catholic hermit is transforming into a child's play room, a gabled, low-ceilinged, triangular prayer room, or a storage area.  From the one wire, there are two outlets, one light switch, and a light box installed.

First stipulation is to have the power to the wire, OFF.  For this double-check after flipping the breaker, one uses an electric wire tester.  Then it is a matter of bringing the main wire into a receptacle box that is nailed into a stud, then another wire is cut and brought up from that outlet box to a switch box that is also nailed to a stud.  Then another piece of wire is brought up from the switch box to a light fixture box that is also nailed into a stud.

From the original outlet box yet another wire can be strung through holes drilled in studs to go part-way around the room and through yet another socket box, nailed to a stud.  That done, I called the electrician who coached me and explained more concepts of electricity.  It all makes sense, once we are taught with explanation and can ask questions that are kindly answered.

Today I will begin the process of doing what is called a "pig tail" for the outlet box that has three lead wires coming into it or going out.  The black, white, and ground wires are stripped clean of sheathing at the ends, and the blacks, whites, and grounds are each twisted and capped with a "wire nut".  But in addition to each of those, an additional piece of wire is cut--a short piece--and the ends of the black, white and ground wires are stripped clean and also twisted into the wire nut.  This is the pig-tail wire, and it will be the one used for wiring into the actual socket mechanism that will provide power to the switch box, light box, and second socket box.

I suppose it could be said that electricity salts the wires--all wires attached in this effort.  Electricity is in a way a form of fire, and fire can be an outcome of electricity.

Yet Jesus' statement that everyone is salted with fire has far deeper and spiritual implications for our lives on earth and our immortal souls for all eternity.

Yes, I am going to ask Him questions today, similar to the way I asked the electrician questions as to the why and how and what of the basics of electrical wiring.  Somehow, Jesus' statement on being salted with fire is important--or it would not have sparked my mind to this degree of desire to know by learning what He means, deep down in and for practical application.  Probably rather a simple concept and answer will come of the pondering.  Jesus is so good to us with insights and explanations, freely given!

The electrician is certainly good, also, to have coached me two or three times on the phone in addition to letting me watch him while he worked doing all the other wiring in the hermitage.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Catholic Hermit: Building an Altar for God

Each day of our lives, there is always a newness to the Living Word of God.  A few days ago, I noticed something I'd not particularly pondered in the familiar Old Testament Book of Genesis.  The account of Noah and the ark, concluding with the Lord saving creatures in His creation--well, I never noticed this one little line:

Noah built an altar for the Lord.

He did so in celebration.  Noah desired to honor and thank God for saving creation, for having the flood waters recede, for man's being once more firmly footed on dry land, for surviving when so many did not.

Then I read portions of Psalm 116:

How shall I make a return to the LORD
for all the good he has done for me?
The cup of salvation I will take up,
and I will call upon the name of the LORD.

My vows to the LORD I will pay
in the presence of all his people.
Precious in the eyes of the LORD
is the death of his faithful ones....

This nothing consecrated Catholic hermit wonders at the Lord's love and patience for us.  Just the breath we take is good that God has done, let alone all the times we have been protected and provided for in ways we may not consciously notice.

Why is the death of God's faithful ones precious in His eyes?  I wonder at this and consider that God views spiritually, mystically, eternally; He sees into hearts and knows the depths of our souls.  The death is the dying to ourselves, the letting go of our insistences and self-convictions that we are somehow in control of creation and of our very lives.  Pride must die; humility must live.  Faith in God is precious to God and also to those around us who are affected by our lived example in the details of everyday life.

Perhaps our making a "return to the Lord" for all the good He has done for me resides in my faith in Him and very much in my desire and attempts to love God in Himself, as Himself, and loving others as God loves.  He loves us for ourselves.  He loves us and finds us precious because we are His to love.  

When we believe in God--simply believe He is our Lord and Savior, believe he is God--we please Him.  When we place God as our all and die to our own tendency to dominance and pride, we are all the more precious to God.

So each day I am considering in what ways I can build an altar for the Lord.

Yesterday I did so by driving two hours each way into civilization to spend an hour with a daughter who does not keep in contact much.  In fact, I would not have known she was in the vicinity had it not been for my inept attempt to leave a Valentine message of my love for her, always, on her voicemail....and a spark of intuition from the Holy Spirit that gave a nudge within that maybe she was near.

Today I am going to build a ceiling cover for an attic space opening.  This will be a type of literal "altar" for God in thanksgiving for His love and protection.  Yesterday when dropping the daughter off at the airport, a desire to give her a loving hug good-bye distracted me, and for the first and hopefully only time ever in my driving history, I did not put the truck in "park".  Thankfully, my daughter noticed; what could have been a horrible injury to someone removing luggage from their trunk in front of us, was averted, for my truck was on a slow roll.

But more so than thanksgiving to God, building an altar to God is an act of creaturely love for our Creator.  To me, constructing a wood ceiling board covering for the attic access opening represents the portal through which our bodies, minds, hearts, and souls have a spiritual opening to His Real Presence: God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  This reality is like an ark experience, all the time; we are ever loved by God and His mercies are endless.

We just open the portal within, that opening of eternal access from our temporal lives to His mystical realm, any time and hopefully, increasingly, all the time.  We can build an altar for God with a thought, with an object-metaphor, with words, with our hearts exuding loving affection, and with unseen faith in Him.

We can build an altar for God with a kind word or smile, with a reminder that we can love others no matter how they feel about us, that we can learn and help others learn in our lives in which all is a learning process--learning to love and loving learning to love God in Himself and others as He loves.

The cabinet installers are coming soon.  The one young man, learning the trade, had difficulty accurately marking where to drill for cabinet door knobs.  He also had difficulty drilling a hole on the mark made--mis-marked in most cases.  How do workers learn a trade if not by practice but also being taught ways in which to maximize success?  It is like loving God and others--we learn as we go along; we learn on-the-job of living life itself.

So I am praying that he will not take offense, nor the young man who is already extremely skilled.  I admit that I've put off installing knobs in the bathroom cabinets; I know how difficult.  So I got a template to use, to make sure the marks are accurate to begin with.  And I will use a tiniest of drill bits to first make a pilot divot hole, and then use the more difficult 1/8" drill bit to bite into the little divot hole and thus hope (and pray) for better accuracy!

I removed the many knobs not measured correctly so that perhaps the young man will see visually, or will be willing to use the template in future rather than a tape measure for such precision marking.  We shall see.  If I could impart how many times I've had to re-do construction aspects in here, or make amends and learn more tips on how to better do many things in life, perhaps he will see that we truly are in this life together, and helping others to learn and to succeed is all about love.

Maybe building an altar to the Lord has to do with building a holy and thankful offering in all ways: an altar of Love.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Catholic Hermit's St. Valentine's Day Wishes!

Happy St. Valentine's Day, dear readers!  

This morning I noticed a posting of Scripture by a friend's friend.  After a night of very little sleep (pain is rugged but am forging forward, clinging to Jesus Christ!) and of renewing my Vow of Suffering (Feb. 13, 2000), the words of St. Paul in the Living Word seems just the truth, beauty, and goodness this nothing consecrated Catholic hermit needs to embrace!

I can hover over each "love-is" and "love-is-not", and then reflect upon any aspects of my day, even, in which the love of God in Himself and the love of others has fallen short.  One other thought that the Holy Spirit put into my thoughts today is that while I forgive others, have I forgiven myself?

No, in many instances of life errors or life sins, or life well-intentioned attempts gone awry--I had not forgiven myself.  I ask the Lord to forgive me; I ask others to forgive me.  But I had not accepted God's love for me enough to consider it is past due time to forgive myself.  God certainly has in His loving union and embrace--and many times over.

We all recognize the following--rather "famous"--Scripture from 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.  Yet do we apply each consideration to our personal lives, in the present moment, or reflect upon how we may have applied or not applied them to situations?  Also, it can be helpful to utilize the Living Word as a means of discerning relationships--loving, not so loving, insecure and needing more prayer.

"Love is patient, 
love is kind.
It does not envy,
it does not boast,
it is not proud.
It does not dishonor others,
it is not self-seeking,
it is not easily angered,
it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil
but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects,
always trusts,
always hopes, always perseveres."

And on this Valentine's Day, as on every day, let us take some heartfelt time and heartfelt desire to tell others how much we love them, and also to tell God with all our body, mind, heart and soul--how much we LOVE HIM in Himself, as God Is Love!

Much love to each of you and to God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit!  Much love to all our heavenly friends, protectors, guides--angels and soul personages!   God bless His Real Presence in us!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Catholic Hermit: Wise Considerations from Sirach

Yesterday's first Mass reading from the Book of Sirach reminds me yet again as to what level of laws cover the basics as well as cover all other laws the human mind can imagine and set forth.  The more years and suffering this nothing consecrated Catholic hermit passes through, the simpler seem Truth, Beauty, and Goodness.  The simpler and more clear seem the choices to be made in every present moment.

Jesus highlighted the law of God, His greatest commandment, thus.  Love the Lord your God with all your body, mind, heart and spirit and love your neighbor as yourself.   The first section of this expression of God's ultimate law for us was in answer to a question Jesus had asked some people.  One person responded with this summation, and Jesus stated His pleasure in the simple accuracy stated.

In other portions of the Living Word, Jesus expresses the commandment by this thought: Love God above all things and love others as ourselves.   The following selection from Sirach assumes the commandments to be the Ten Commandments given Moses and imprinted on tablets that Moses later broke in frustration with the stubbornness and the people's generalized lack of acceptance, or at least the slippage into rebellion.

I find the options offered by Sirach are quite wise yet also common sense.  I used to remind myself that every thought and action I took is either a step/thought toward heaven or a step/thought toward hell.  Sirach mentions the choice compared to reaching for fire or water.  Then we are reminded further that it is a choice between life and death, good and evil.

Regardless how we remind ourselves of the choices we have each present moment, whether in action, thought, word--we will receive the circumstances and outcome--sooner or later--of whichever we choose.

Loving God above all else, loving Him in Himself, ensures that we will love others for God's love in us flows within to without and without to within.  Love begets love; and love will be the circumstance and outcome.  

The Ten Commandments provide us with more details of some of the life choices we may face; but what Jesus called the Greatest Commandment fulfills the law of God, the law of love, with overriding assurance.  Jesus' life, death, and resurrection is the exemplification of God's law, His Greatest Commandment, the law of God's love.

God's love is life, not death; good, not evil.  In honing ourselves to God's law, we may need more detailed examples.  However, I consider that perhaps we've approached the law of God with an increasingly complexity over the centuries, that is not necessary.  A singular guide we may adopt; there are many choices of a few words or a simple question we may ask ourselves while in God-Is-Love existence.

Whether it be thinking of literally reaching toward fire or water, or if we remind ourselves that the choice is ours--good or evil, life or death, heaven or hell--if we pray for Jesus Christ to be the love of our lives, if we accept God's love for us and fully give over our love in God in Himself, we will soon realize we are united with God in His Love.

Perhaps that is why Sirach states that if we trust in God, we will live.  The life we will live is that of life of soul, and that a soul remaining in Christ's love.  Choices will become easier, simpler.  Details will begin to surface of negative, past, not-good thoughts and actions we may wish to correct to the good.

The more we love God in Himself and choose His Life over our essentially deadened lives, the more obvious will be the situations and which choice we must make.  The choices will become increasingly fine-tuned, from the externals to the internals, and down to the details without and within.  

Thus Christ said His yoke is easy, His burden light.

When I consider how bogged I had become with trying to read and live out so many laws of minds, to learn and follow this and that law even within the church, I realize how burdened I'd become and how zealous in a forced way.  As to liturgical traditions, the law of God's love so consumes the soul that there is truly no conflict with whatever laws of minds are written or added.  It should not matter what the books of laws state in whatever detail, to the soul in love with God in Himself.  

This does not mean to do away with such laws.  But it is to grasp why Jesus said He came to fulfill the laws, to teach and live out a greater law, a law of love that assumes due to God's love, the living out of laws meant to help when people need specific example of life situations and which to choose, or the consequences if one chooses otherwise.

We could get into the role of the conscience within and its strength or weakness.  But I believe that the Lord is helping me grasp the overriding power of God's law of love--and the accessibility and trusting reality that loving God in Himself and accepting His love will seal the union of love with and in God that is the human's ultimate purpose and God's desire for us.

There are many choices I've made in life that were either not for the water, the good, the life or were rather default-type "choices."  In some I chose not to choose; I road along in the wake rather than choosing to crest the waves and ride in the God-stream.  At other times I chose unwisely and reached toward the fire, or at least accepted the fire, for my will has also been weak or undisciplined.

And to realize that loving God in Himself and thus love of others--well, the trust in His love providing love and living love through my soul is quite the relief!  I see I've chosen to make loving God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit harder than need be.

Please enjoy and benefit from this selection from Sirach 15.

"If you choose you can keep the commandments, they will save you;
if you trust in God, you too shall live;
he has set before you fire and water
to whichever you choose, stretch forth your hand.
Before man are life and death, good and evil,
whichever he chooses shall be given him."

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Jesus Took Pity on Them

The other day, the Gospel reading for daily Mass includes a scene and revelation of Jesus' interaction with a large crowd.  The people had given up their usual routine to listen to Jesus and very much so, to receive miraculous healings of a few.  

The many were drawn to Jesus's miracles and living words not only for the few physical miracles of healing, but no doubt because Jesus' Word provided hope and loving healing for their minds, hearts, and souls.

We are familiar with the depiction of Jesus with the crowds, particularly in this section of Scripture from St. Mark's Gospel.  What we may have (as I surely have!) focused upon or remembered is Jesus' taking a few loaves of bread and some fish, multiplied the food, and fed the five thousand (or however many there were in the crowd and with food left over).

What struck me, though, in this reading out of many readings through out my life, are Jesus' words:  "My heart is moved with pity toward them...."

I am reminded of how warm and loving in a most personal way is our Lord Jesus Christ.  He loves us deeply and is very approachable, relatable, and interested in the details of our daily lives, always.  Jesus sees us and knows our thoughts and feelings, our trials and successes.  He feels our wounded memories and physical hurts, our mental and emotional upsets.  He realizes we do not know what is coming next, not really, no matter how secure we may think or feel we are in this temporal world.

Jesus takes pity on us.  His heart is moved with pity toward us.

Somehow that makes me feel assured this morning.  I'm struggling to get the body up and about again, although the pain level is high enough to make me very fatigued.  A couple or more weeks ago I started to cut back on some pain meds for they only take the edge off, anyway.  And increasingly they are a hassle from which I desire to be free.  

However, I am praying now about if it is better to humble myself and be stuck with hassles and be more functional, or if better to be fatigued from too much pain and have to remain more on the mattress.

It is a small thing.  Determination and mind over matter can help a human push through some levels of pain.  Faith can move mountains, as Our Lord, Living Word, tells us.  Yet we also know that in our weakness, He makes us strong.  Sometimes the gift of humility includes having to be hassled, having to be tied to even little bites of God-inspired, man-produced medicine.  Sometimes we have to live with the ignorance of people who hold bias or make misinformed, blanket judgments of such things.

Also small in the full spectrum of life is an overused, injured elbow.  I'm wondering why it took over three years or more for the elbow to give out?  Even that does not matter. What is before me is that it has given out, and seven days of rest for the back and elbow was disrupted for the elbow by using the right arm to swish dirt down the tub drain yesterday for a much-needed bath.

The problem of having a right elbow in severe pain and thus unusable for much of any movements is a small problem in the full spectrum of life and of the injuries people all over the world sustain and endure.  Yet, for this nothing consecrated Catholic hermit, the elbow incapacitation means very little, if any, progress on completing the hermitage which is at this point still not salable.

The finances are nearly at the end of their shelf-life.  The temporal situation is becoming rather serious in that regard, and the moral issue looms within me as I had wanted to make right the injustices and deceptions of a real estate agent, a house inspector, and a first contractor (plus a few handymen at the beginning of this venture and a couple employees at a Lowe's store).

Yet, I have been asking the Lord to show me my purpose and what is next that He desires of me.  Besides wanting my full love and devotion, for me to have utter delight in Him and to love Him in Himself, He wants me to be open to, with confidence, His love for me.

As to finishing this place, His goals and purpose for me may be quite different than my little temporal goal of finishing this place.  He may prefer that I accept with humility that I will not finish and will not have much financial means to go forth with financial freedom or at least the means to exist more comfortably than not, temporally.  

He also may want me to see yet again that my goals and ideas to honor my parents' lives of hard work and savings and desire for me to have a more comfortable life after years of suffering and struggles, by my working hard, and instead to let it go this close to completion.

His goals and purposes are not always--and I submit not usually--what our goals tend to be.  The dichotomy seems to lie in that we may not be differentiating between the temporal world and the spiritual realm; we tend to see not so much as God sees but as we or others see.  It is not wrong to think it a good effort or work to want to change something temporal to a better temporal good.  Fixing up a neglected farm house in order for someone else to live here with enjoyment and comfort is a good effort.

Yet, the completion may not be for me to do.  I just don't know yet.  And that is a good point for all of us to remember, that none of us knows the day or the hour.  We do not know the outcome of the next minute in our lives, let alone hour or day or week or month or year.

Rather, we live in the Order of the Present Moment with St. Joseph as our patron, with the Virgin Mary as our motherly mentor, and Jesus Christ as  Savior of our eternal souls and our assuredly Beloved Spouse.

Truly, Jesus' heart is moved with pity; He takes pity on us.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Catholic Hermit: Thoughts on Pride

I've observed recently that pride is pernicious.  If pride is a person's bugaboo in life and one has made spiritual advances in later years, it does not take much for the person to be sucked back into the slime of pride.

Some relatives of pride are envy and vanity.  Pride involves any sense of one's own self worth being somehow, perhaps subliminally, not what a person desires.  Thus, the person strives to place him- or herself above others and often by putting others beneath them.  Not always, however, is this the case.  Sometimes it suffices to simply keep oneself thinking and convinced of superiority; putting others down for an intelligent person with pride is too obvious.

However, a more subtle way in which the proud person can put others down is through criticism either to the person or of the person to others.  Of course, the criticism can come within the proud person's mind.

Envy and vanity often accompany--yes, like relatives in our familial lives--pride in life's journey.  For an intelligent proudster, there is not an overt envy, not an admittance of envy within the mind.  That is, also, too obvious to the one afflicted with pride.  So instead of directly confronting this aspect of pride in oneself--that of envy of others appearances, intelligence, talents, abilities, achievements--the proud person resorts to other means of masking the envy from him- or herself.  

(A proud person cannot bear to face pride within.  He or she is too proud for that humility of self-realization.)

To counter envy of others, a proud person tries to achieve all the more in a competitive mode.  Or the proud person does all to enhance his or her own personal beauty or handsomeness by major body overhauls, apparel, exercise, make-up, hairstyle.  If the proud person tends to physical unattractiveness, the envy will find outlet and reprieve from itself by other means in order to place itself above others.  

Vanity and envy are so interrelated that the proud person often does not distinguish between pride's closest, familial support systems.  We can come up with various scenarios as to how a proud person can use vanity and envy in quite subtle ways in offshoots of words and actions, thoughts, and deeds, to make oneself rise above others without being blatant--at least to oneself.

There will always be someone or other or many who will observe the machinations of how a person operates in sundry modalities in order to try to mask pride's markers of envy and vanity.

Yet there are other markers of pride.

One is that a proud person usually is prone to validating him- or herself.  Many words are used in this effort.  The proud person has a need to be in control of situations, thoughts, conversations, and verily most if not all aspects of his- or her personal life.  This often, then, extends to need to control others' lives, usually with criticism being a means of controlling others.

The proud person excuses this criticism by self-assurance that he or she is simply trying to help the object of criticism to improve or be a better person, or to be able to "fix" the others' perceived problems.

And what came to me the other day, is that a proud person does not have a sense of humor, or not much of one.  This insight on pride is one I've never considered before.  I suppose the subliminally low self-esteem of a proud person (perhaps from some childhood inadequacy or suffering) prohibits the proud person from being able to laugh at life's situations and incidents, laugh at him- or herself, or laugh with others.

Pride is extremely difficult to observe and diagnose in oneself.  The person needs abject honesty and brutal self-displacement--to view from outside of oneself and see as one truly is.  Or the proud person needs an ounce of humility enough to ask another to conduct an observation to deduce if pride haunts what otherwise could be a gracious or charming, engaging, and "fun" person to be around and to know.

In fact, proud persons can evoke a kind of shield around themselves such that others fear crossing them, for without a sense of humor, without humility, without grasping that they (and all of us) are nothing and God Is All--the proud person is like the stern master to whom a dog comes when slinking slowly toward the master in fear of being kicked.

There is no running, tail-wagging, toward a proud person.  There also is usually no leaping into the arms of nor giving well-appreciated kisses to a proud person.  Why?  Proud people with their buried low self-esteem have learned to not be all that approachable other than by those who are also proud or else have been enchanted by the performed grandiosity, title, comely appearance, stance, verbosity, or brilliance of which a proud person has been able to develop in life.

But once more, is there a sense of humor readily at hand?  Or does the proud person also try to convince and convey that, yes, he or she indeed has a great sense of humor by saying so--with an accompanying performance-grade laugh or chuckle.

For proud people usually are rather inhibited because they fear looking and seeming and being perceived or considered as less than perfect.  So to do something quite human and humble and linked by roots humilite, homo, humere, to even the root for soil--humus--is difficult for a proud person.  There is something in pride that struggles to cross into anything to do with humility be it human, earthy, or humorous--and I mean, again, in a natural, unforced, non-scripted manner.

These thoughts have come to me recently due to someone I love very much having backslid into a decades-long struggle with pride.  It may have started in childhood with a type of envy of other little girls and included vanity for she was pampered and protected by elder brothers and sisters.  Then when married, tragedy and heartbreak struck within a year or so of each other.

All the more, then, the wounded woman strove to reclaim her place and pride and standing among others who knew all about the sorrows and shame that befell the woman in addition to remembering the tragedy of her childhood which plummeted the family into struggles, bereft of financial standing as well.

In recent years--three or four--I'd rejoiced in that this person had become wondrously more spiritually focused.  She always did pray and attended church regularly, but the niggling pride kept sticking out like porcupine quills in what deceptively could look like a coat of mink fur.  Yes, in the past few years the person had developed some humble, prayerful friends and was part of their prayer group.  There was more desire in helping the poor and the more uneducated of the church.  

I see now that this down-tick in pride and turning to inwardly beautiful soul-effort came at the time the person had to detach from many possessions and enter an assisted living facility.  For we do realize that suffering can squelch pride like not much other in life.  Yet, if the suffering is short-term or the effects can be put behind us such as memories of suffering, or we rise beyond suffering through focus on material success and various other externals, we are only developing fertile conditions for all the more pride.

Whatever, I realize that for my part, I'd not been praying as much for the person when she dipped out of the intensity of pride around the time of down-sizing and facing end years.  I was taken by the beauty that came from her soul and the prayerful and faithful conversations.  Somehow, as pride reasserts its supremacy rather easily, it seems, this person became even more under the clutches of pride.  All the more there was criticism of others and more abrupt, rude comments usually kept within for one stage of pride has the person not wanting, out of pride, for others to see the less than perfect self.

But in a more advanced phase of pride, the person no longer cares what others think or how they feel, and the proud person has a sense of self-entitlement to not only be the center of attention but also to slay anyone else who may take up space or air or consideration.  The boundaries of self-possession and decorum begin to crumble if not outright mud-slide; the proud person no longer cares even to keep up the guard.

Yet again, the signal that has struck me the most is that a proud person has little to no sense of humor.  

And, of course, there is this other tell-tale sign:  A proud person takes offense at what others say or think whether positive, congratulatory, true, false, whatever.  Years ago a religious sister taught me this truth, that a sure sign of pride is if one takes offense.  

But in the advance stages of pride, others do not even dare attempt other than adulation and praise...or silence...when involving a proud person. Again, it the fortress is so high and impenetrable at a warmly approachable human level that it is pointless to say or write much if anything at all.

So the ultimate results of pride are this:  The person who to begin with had losses or sufferings causing feelings of inadequacy and want, ends up doing whatever to build his- or herself into a fortress of pride in various means and effects; and ultimately the proud person ends up very much alone--a fate worse than feeling inadequate to begin with.

The proud person is ultimately alone because others either do not want to approach or make contact, do not want to converse due to being criticized or put down in some way from effects of the pride of the proud person; or they approach and converse but only feed the proud person's pride all the more in order to avoid being literally or symbolically "be-littled."  

There's nothing much genuine about a proud person's self-created image; it is also no laughing matter.  Most sad, indeed, is the plight of the proud person.


The sum end of my thoughts on pride are for me to now take the observations and apply them to myself and my thoughts and dealings with others.   Praying and asking Jesus to unmask myself is a prerequisite for this exercise that should be repeated often and as needed.  

How will I know?  Well, if I take offense at anything anyone has said or indicated about me.  If I do not have a sense of humor or ready laugh.  If I resent that others have more of anything (other than wrinkles...!), or if I am dissatisfied with what God has served on my plate each day.  Also, and this is important:  If there is not suffering or if suffering has been overcome and in the past, beware of pride re-entering for we can feel quite proud indeed and in control of ourselves (and others) when we have pulled ahead in some temporal way.

I praise the Lord for the examples of proud persons in life be it in real-life encounters with the proud or in fictional characters based upon real-life, proud persons.  The proud provide us with an ever-ready check point for ourselves, so that we can compare and contrast and take the ax to the root of any pride attempting to take hold in us.

Well, there is always pride in us, lurking about, even if not causing problems...yet.  There is always the potential for pride, the seeds of pride, and our task is to pray and take strong efforts to know pride so well that we can see it at first or second glance, and stomp it while laughing at how ridiculous we are with whatever seeds of pride that we let germinate even for a thought moment.

One other thought on pride, though.  What do we do to help others who have pride to see their pride and do away with it, to humble themselves?  

Other than praying for the person, I suppose there is not much we should say or ought to confront, unless we are the person's parent or guardian as in teaching a child about pride and helping to stomp on examples of pride or pointing out pride in situations and others as a teaching tool.  We can do all to keep ourselves from pride, and that might prove an example for the proud person.  

Even if we bring up a conversation on the sin of pride, a proud person's pride is cultivated and encouraged by the devil; the devil will cause the proud person to react negatively or more often, with yet more self-deception.  A proud person easily and soundly, even reasonably, denies his or her own pride.  Or if very clever and bright, the proud person will concur pride is a problem but will do so out of pride--pride enough to want to appear as if humbly admitting to pride.

Yes, we must keep praying for the souls of those who are deep into pride and cannot sense it or see it in themselves, and for them to be kept from too much pride in future. At the same time, we must pray for our own souls to be released from whatever degree of pride in us and to be ever watchful for the signals that pride has roosted.  God will answer these prayers; He will handle the proud person one way or another, now, later, or at judgment with rectitude beyond.

Praying for humility, with sincerity, God will always answer. He will use earthly and spiritual means to squelch our pride while infusing humility. Suffering, truly, is a gift from God that keeps pride in check.  

These thoughts on pride are a little answer to prayer today, for I've been down on the mattress now for over a week with wretched pain.  And today I was all set to get back to work on my hermitage-farmhouse, and I was dreaming of being able to finish and sell and get out from under the financial strain and various else.  But just swishing the tub for a way-past-due bath caused my right elbow to flare painfully as if it had not been rested for over seven days.

I was quite discouraged and realized no work can progress here without my right arm.  All the finishing work remains:  drywall mudding, sanding, priming, painting, trim cutting, sanding, priming, painting, nailing, wood floors nailed after old floors leveled, tiling of shower and floor, yard work.

Pain is limiting and debilitating and depressing in its effects.  One must not take offense, though.  Either the Lord will provide a means to finish or there will be great humility in not finishing.  There will be less pride in not finishing unless the finishing can somehow be accomplished with extreme pain, and then the reminder of human weakness in suffering will help squelch pride.  

We can laugh on that one....