In this meeting we quickly went through the deadly sins that have been discussed so far in previous meetings: pride, envy, anger, sloth, and avarice. It gave those a chance that had missed some meetings to catch up on handouts and take up the thread of themes we have been following in formation this year.
Virtue, vice and prayer
Formation groups are always eager to hear about prayer, how to do it, how to advance in prayer, whether we are doing it correctly and in a way that pleases God. We all have these concerns.
But how do we avoid having the concerns become the object our meditations instead of letting our attention go where God would prefer it?
I think the daily exercise of practicing virtues and defeating vices in the smallest and most silent circumstances of our lives can help.
With prayer I like to constantly mix it up and I grow wary of any routines, habits and rigidities in thought and practice, spiritual attitudes or inflexibilities of belief. That’s what I understand my Rule is for: a safe fence around freedom of spirit where my soul can play joyfully, learn spontaneously and be guided by the Holy Spirit. As long as I live my Carmelite Rule of Life and honestly confront my vices then my favourite prayer is to live in close friendship with Christ.
Pride: a prowling beast
To this end I asked the group to meditate more deeply on pride: particularly as it hides and lurks in the most inner parts of our souls. When I tried to prepare for our session I found looking at pride stopped me in my tracks. There was just too much to consider!
If I could just challenge one little area of pride each day – and there is certainly a formidable list of expressions of pride to select from (some detail on pride) – then there could be no prayer more precious or intimate for my Beloved.
Lists can be useful but beyond setting out willfully to ‘conquer’ some area of assumed weakness I have found a better method is to ask God earnestly to show to me in the silence of prayer and in the small circumstances of my day where those ‘opportunities for grace’(St Thérèse) may lie where that raw nerve of self-sufficiency can be exposed and surrendered.
My biggest lessons on pride for this month:
- Pride is unique among sins. Every other sin takes pleasure in wrongdoing but pride just relishes in doing something GOOD (The Rule of St Augustine).
- To keep in mind one of my favourite slogans from The Imitation of Christ as a guide for action whenever I feel wounded, rejected, ignored, taken for granted, unappreciated, praised, elevated, admired, envied, attacked, despised or loved -
Strive to be nothing and thought of no account (Thomas à Kempis).