Letters to Jesus (Ego, False-self, and Groundhog Day -11
I love to read or listen to the lives of the saints despite however much romanticizing has crept in over the years. I do not have delusions about their humanity. They got scraped, nicked, suffered, were embarrassed and insulted and got dirt under their nails just like the rest of us. Perhaps the reason I enjoy so much even the romanticized versions is because I think I can recognize the efforts of those who so idealize them that they dehumanize them – intentionally leaving out their rough spots. It’s a shame more of them didn’t write autobiographies like St. Therese of Lisieux.
For all the gloss – and even for all the pain and suffering – there is one quality shared by all of them: self-denial, which, in itself takes on many different forms depending on the individual and his/her situation. Indeed, regardless of thehalo or the stigmata, self-denial is the primary prerequisite and, therefore, common denominator of our true selves – our saint. And I believe there is a saint in each one of us. It is, for the most part, obliterated by all the false selves that need to be denied. This is how we bring out the saint in us.
As each of our false selves is denied, it dies and a little bit more of our true self – our saint – is revealed. The power-seeking self, the money-oriented self, the pleasure-seeking self, the manipulative and beguiling self, the doctrinaire self, the vain self, the smug self, the self-satisfied self, etc., etc. When each of these is denied it dies and our saint shines through a bit more. Certainly it’s easier to cultivate all these selves than it is to get rid of them. It takes real effort.
When I was teaching, no matter how poorly a student performed, if I could see real substantial effort it melted me. I think You’re like that too. No matter to You how inept we are at ridding life of our false selves and getting at our saint, as long as we make sincere efforts to do so. This is the substance of anyone’s spiritual quest.How it is done is easier to describe than to accomplish but, again, the effort is what is important: to deny the power-seeking self one must become subservient; to deny the money-oriented self one must feel no compunction about parting with what is not needed; the pleasure-seeking self by concern first for pleasing others; the beguiling self by trusting; the doctrinaire self by listening with attention, and so on. To rub away these false masks that hide our saint is to find You in us.