Monday, January 26, 2009

What I need to ask for

George de la Tour, St. Joseph the Carpenter

[...] Everything boils down to having a childlike heart. And having a childlike heart means lifting your eyes up from your own problems, from your own plans, from your defects, from other people’s defects, to look at the risen Christ. “Lift up your eyes from yourself to that Presence” (Familiarity with Christ, Notes from a lesson by Fr. Luigi Giussani during the Spiritual Exercises of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, May 8, 1982 in Traces, n. 2, 01-02-2007 ).

I quoted these sentences in the last little thing that I wrote. What I am writing now is the third and final (for now) piece on self-consciousness.

It is not immediately apparent that the opposite of or antidote to self-consciousness is humility. Because when I am in the throes of self-consciousness, I feel low, small, etc. -- but not like a child. Children need to be taught this particular sort of "humility," which is actually pride. When children are truly themselves, they are oriented outward, to the world, not brooding on their inabilities and short-comings. True humility has nothing of shame or embarrassment in it. After all, our sins do not define us. We are defined by our relationship with the Infinite, who is always proposing something great to me in the here and now. Always.

No comments:

Dumbstruck by the Mystery

...our temptation is always to impose our prejudices or our measure on reality -- except when we are faced with a fact that leaves us dumbstruck, and instead of dominating the fact ourselves, we are dominated, overcome by it. If there were no moments of this kind, the Mystery could do anything, but in the end, we would reduce everything to the usual explanation. But not even a Nobel Prize winner can stop himself from being dumbstruck before an absolutely gratuitous gesture. If there were not these moments, we would find answers, explanations, and interpretations to avoid being struck by anything. It is good that some things happen that we cannot dominate, then we have to take them seriously, and this is the great question of philosophy. If the conditions for the possibility of knowledge (see Kant) impose themselves on reality or if there is something that is so powerfully disproportionate that it does not let itself be "grasped" by the conditions of possibility, then the horizon opens. If this were not the case, then we could dominate everything and be in peace, or at least without drama. Instead, not even the intelligence of a Nobel Prize winner could prevent him from coming face-to-face with a fact that made him dumbstruck -- instead of dominating, it was he who was dominated. Here begins the drama, because I am called to answer. It is the drama that unfolds between us and the Mystery, through certain facts, certain moments, in which the Mystery imposes itself with this evidence. These are facts that we cannot put in our pocket, which we cannot reduce to antecedent factors.
-- Julian Carron in "Friends, that is, Witnesses."