From Chapter 1 of Saint Josemaría Escrivá’s book The Way: Character
You go on being worldly, frivolous, and giddy because you are a coward. What is it, if not cowardice, to refuse to face yourself?
I’ve often wondered who it was that this particular conversation was directed towards? Who was the person receiving such sharp correction and blunt advice? Did it help them? Did they reflect upon and heed the words provided or face themselves in the mirror? Or were they so stung by them that in a fit of stubborn pride the counsel was ignored?
The truth is we don’t want to assess ourselves in the mirror. That’s for the “other guy or gal” with “problems”. Never us. Our pride keeps us blind.
In the twelfth century, St. Bernard of Clairvaux identified twelve steps up the mountain of pride, and another twelve steps down. They are summarized in this article. For today’s post I wanted to zero in on Number Three since St. Escrivá mentions the term “giddy” by name.
(3) Giddiness: With giddiness, we move from levity of mind to the frivolous behaviors produced by it, behaviors in which we routinely over-emphasize lightweight experiences and situations at the expense of more meaningful and godly things. We maximize the minimum and minimize the maximum. We find plenty of time for trivia, but little or no time for prayer, works of mercy, or the study of truth and the enjoyment of real beauty.
Maximize the minimum and minimize the maximum. Trivia over Truth.
Like say, the world’s obsession these past several months, and intensifying to a fever pitch in recent weeks and days, regarding a baby’s birth to a royal household in England?
No offense to the newborn babe, and I’m glad he was born healthy.
But contrast today’s media circus and seeming global infatuation to the lack of interest, knowledge, or even care towards the little babe born in a dank, dark stable amongst the stabled animals in Bethlehem over two thousand years ago.
From Fulton J. Sheen’s book Life of Christ:
In the filthiest place in the world, a stable, Purity was born. He, Who was later to be slaughtered by men acting as beasts, was born among beasts. He, Who would call Himself the “living Bread descended from Heaven,” was laid in a manger, literally, a place to eat. Centuries before, the Jews had worshipped the golden calf, and the Greeks, the ass. Men bowed down before them as before God. The ox and the ass now were present to make their innocent reparation, bowing down before their God.
There was no room in the inn, but there was room in the stable. The inn is the gathering place of public opinion, he focal point of the world’s moods, the rendezvous of the worldly, the rallying place of the popular and the successful. But the stable is a place for the outcasts, the ignored, the forgotten. The world might have expected the Son of God to be born–if He was to be born at all–in an inn. A stable would be the last place in the world where one would have looked for Him. Divinity is always where one least expects to find it.
Look in the mirror, face yourself, and ask: “What am I focusing my time and attention on the most? Why?”
Look again. “Am I spending most of my time socializing and hobknobbing at the World’s Inn with the rest of the world’s cowards, or have the courage and humility to step into the stable?
Look a final time. “Is my heart an inn or a stable? What about my mind?”