Lent is a very holy and introspective time! It should be a time when we scrutinize all of our actions and all aspects of our life and work to conform ourselves more closely to the Lord. For the last six weeks we have been carefully looking at each of the Fifteen Spiritual Ailments of the Roman Curia. Those same ailments can (and are) found in each and every one of us if we are truly honest with ourselves. The Seventh of the 15 ailments of the Roman Curia and ourselves is:
The ailment of rivalry and vainglory.
This occurs when appearances, the colour of one’s robes, insignia and honours become the most important aim in life…it is the disorder that leads us to become false men and women, living a false ‘mysticism’ and a false ‘quietism.
This trap can certainly affect any of us. History is filled with stories of good, honest, hard working people who once a particular office is bestowed upon them, are given the particular privilege of wearing some special robe, or uniform insignia, be the recipient of some honour, sadly change for the worse. I have seen that with some of my brother priests who when bestowed on a particular office, or honour sadly change. We need to carefully look at our own life. Do we chase after honours to fill up some emptiness in our life, or because our own self esteem is so low? As leaders, is our aim to be servants–leaders and to wait to be last to have our needs met. I recently came across a quote from an old US Cavalry sign – The Horses eat first, the enlisted men eat second and the officers eat last. Or, is our motto “Rank has its privileges”.
May this holy Season of Lent bring us authentically closer to Christ!
The Sixth of the Spiritual Ailments of the Roman Curia – which also very much applies to us in our own lives and in the life of our parish!
“The disease of spiritual Alzheimer’s” Our Holy Father used these words to describe this. “That is a progressive decline of ‘spiritual faculties’ which causes ‘severe disadvantages to people, ‘making them live in a ‘state of absolute dependence on their, often imagined, views’ We can see this in those who have ‘lost their memory of their encounter with the Lord,’ in those who depend on their ‘passions, whims and obsessions.’”
It is a rather forgetfulness of the history of Salvation, of their personal history with the Lord, of the ‘first love’: We see this in those who build walls around themselves and who increasingly transform into slaves to the idols they have sculpted with their own hands”
I would invite us all this week to reflect on this deeply and to see if there are things that we have forgotten. Have we become so hardened by the trials of this life that we have forgotten the faithful presence of the Lord in our life? Has life become so routine and monotonous that we have forgotten the first feelings of deep love that we have for our Lord? Have we forgotten our roots? Sometimes in the life of those who go through RCIA there is such great feelings of love and a passion (or thirst) for the faith that somehow over time diminishes or disappears. Have we forgotten where we have come from? In parishes sometimes they have lost those core values that were important to them and sadly drift into something called “maintenance” [maintaining current structures, ways of doing things]and away from “mission.”
Many years ago when I worked for the Coca Cola Bottling Company to pay for my college, I was employed for two weeks when I was called into the Plant Manager’s office. I went up there with great apprehension as I thought that I must have done something terribly wrong. The Plant Manager, John Heinrichs, invite me in, and said that it was important for him to hear from the newest employees what they were seeing in terms of the operation of the plant. It was a great lesson for me. We can be so caught up in our world that we do not see the “forest’ for the “trees.”
I would encourage us to reflect on the call that God has for each of us individually and to rediscover that call if it has gone lost. I would encourage us to look deeply into not only our own lives, but the life of our parish to see how we are doing. If there is a progressive decline in our spiritual faculty to pray and be in love with the Lord, may there be a rapid re-awakening of this in our life.