"Are we prepared to promote conditions in which the living contact with God can be reestablished? For our lives today have become godless to the point of complete vacuity. God is no longer with us in the conscious sense of the word. He is denied, ignored, excluded from every claim to have a part in our daily life." - Alfred Delp, S.J.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Self love. Self pity.

"I know what it is to suffer!"

Just some thoughts on the subject of self love and self pity.

I took a post down the other day because it seemed to me it wreaked of self-pity masquerading as virtue - or humility.  Ah.  Self pity - an aspect of self love.  Today I'm beginning to examine these vices in preparation for Lent ...

"St Augustine, with extraordinary perceptiveness, described the nature of sin as follows: 'self-love to the point of contempt for God'. It was self love which drove our first parents toward the initial rebellion and then gave rise to the spread of sin throughout human history. The book of Genesis speaks of this: 'You will be like God, knowing good and evil', in other words, you yourselves will decide what is good and evil.
The only way to overcome this dimension of original sin is through a corresponding 'love for God to the point of contempt for self'. This brings us face to face with the mystery of man's redemption, and here the Holy Spirit is our guide. It is he who allows us to penetrate deeply into the 'mystery of the Cross' and at the same time to plumb the depths of evil perpetrated by man and suffered from the very beginning of history. That is what the expression 'convince the world about sin' means, and the purpose of this 'convincing' is not to condemn the world.
If the Church, through the power of the Holy Spirit, can call evil by its name, it does so only in order to demonstrate that evil can be overcome if we open ourselves to 'love for God to the point of contempt for self. This is the fruit of Divine Mercy..." - John Paul II, Memory and Identity
Sadness ... self pity.
Sadness, or self-pity, is the twin sister of acedia. They are similar in some respects, but not identical. The sad person finds relief more easily, whereas the one besieged by acedia is trapped. Sadness is a temporary, part-time experience, but acedia is global and permanent. In this sense it is opposed to human nature.
The chief symptoms of this devilish “scourge that lays waste at noon” are inner instability and the need for change (with wandering fantasies of a better place), excessive care of one’s own health (with special emphasis on one’s food), escape from manual work (with laziness and inactivity), uncontrolled activism (under the appearance of charity), neglect of the monastic practices (reducing observance to a minimum), indiscreet zeal in a few ascetic exercises (with extreme criticism of one’s neighbor), generalized discouragement (with the beginnings of a depression). - Dom Bernardo Olivera, OCSO

Self pity ... anger, resentment.

As a culture, it seems to me the homosexual movement mirrors many of the traits often associated with the same-sex-attracted personality. For instance, arrested development - remaining emotionally adolescent, alternating with adult behavior when needed.  Continually focused upon self-definition and identity, and so on.
"...an especially common view of self (for the homosexual) is that of the wronged, rejected, 'poor me'. Homosexuals are therefore easily insulted; they 'collect injustice', as psychiatrist Berger has so well put it, and are liable to see themselves as victims. This explains the overt self-dramatization of the militants, who adroitly exploit their neurosis to gain public support. Attached to self-pity, they are inner (or manifest) complainers, often chronic complainers. Self pity and protest are not far apart. A certain inner (or overt) rebelliousness and hostility to others who do them wrong and to 'society' and a determinate cynicism, are typical of many homosexuals." - The Battle For Normality 

“Fits of anger, vexation,and bitterness against ourselves tend to pride and they spring from no other source than self-love, which is disturbed and upset at seeing that it is imperfect.” - St. Francis de Sales
The wound of malice.
Without falling into the exaggeration of the first Protestants and the Jansenists, we must say that we are born with a will inclined to egoism, to inordinate self-love. This is called the wound of malice; (4) it often manifests itself by a gross egoism, against which one should guard, an egoism that mingles in all man's acts. It follows that the will, which has become weak by reason of its lack of docility to God, no longer has absolute power over the sensible faculties, but only a sort of moral power or persuasion to lead them to subject themselves.(5) Doubtless after baptism, which regenerated us by giving us sanctifying grace and charity, this wound, like the others, is in the process of healing; but it also reopens by reason of our personal sins.
The principal defect of the will is the lack of rectitude, called self-love or inordinate love of self, which forgets the love due to God and that which we should have for our neighbor. Self-love or egoism is manifestly the source of all sins.(6) From it are born "the concupiscence of the flesh, the concupiscence of the eyes, and the pride of life." (7) The sensible appetites, which are no longer firmly led, incline man to thoughtlessness, feverish eagerness, fruitless agitation, selfish search for all that pleases, flight from all that is painful, nonchalance, discouragement, in which he sees that his will has lost its strength, and to all sorts of bad examples. (8)
It is clear that self-will, which is defined as that which is not conformed to the will of God, is the source of every sin. Self-will is extremely dangerous because it can corrupt everything; even what is best in one may become evil when self-will enters in, for it takes itself as its end, instead of subordinating itself to God. If the Lord perceives this will in a fast or a sacrifice, He rejects them because He sees therein a divine work accomplished through pride in order to gain approbation. Now, self-will is born of self-love or egoism; it is strong self-love that has become imperious." - THE PRINCIPAL DEFECT OF THE WILL: SELF-LOVE (Three Ages of the Interior Life, PART 2 - The Purification of the Soul in Beginners)
Self love and pride go together... leading to rivalry, sloth, contempt for spiritual things, rancor, discouragement - and of course, envy and sadness at the success of others - and self pity.

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