Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Ostentation, Careerism, Conceit

Benedict's advice to seminarians bears a little reflection, at least by seminarians. Particularly his three things to avoid that he offers to us. One almost thinks that he has read his St. Ignatius and was possibly repeating his advice. Ignatius, in his meditation on "The Two Standards" asks the retreatant 
to consider the discourse which he (Satan) makes them (his demons), and how he tells them to cast out nets and chains; that they have first to tempt with a longing for riches -- as he is accustomed to do in most cases -- that men may more easily come to vain honor of the world, and then to vast pride. So that the first step shall be that of riches; the second, that of honor; the third, that of pride; and from these three steps he draws on to all the other vices.
He then tells him
to consider the discourse which Christ our Lord makes to all His servants and friends whom He sends on this expedition, recommending them to want to help all, by bringing them first to the highest spiritual poverty, and -- if His Divine Majesty would be served and would want to choose them -- no less to actual poverty; the second is to be of contumely and contempt; because from these two things humility follows. So that there are to be three steps; the first, poverty against riches; the second, contumely or contempt against worldly honor; the third, humility against pride. And from these three steps let them induce to all the other virtues.
Riches, Honors, Pride. These are the three ways that one falls into the hands of the devil. This can be particularly true for seminarians. They are called to the greatest poverty by Christ: to live without wife or family, without career, carrying around in their lives, as St. Paul exhorts, the death of Christ, his kenosis on the cross in their daily celebration of the sacrifice for the world. Yet somehow many live comfortable careers, pursuing honors and filled with self-entitlement. For this reason, Benedict's repetition of Ignatius' advice is for us:
I urge you to deepen your friendship with Jesus the Good Shepherd. Talk heart to heart with him. Reject any temptation to ostentation, careerism, or conceit. Strive for a pattern of life truly marked by charity, chastity and humility, in imitation of Christ, the Eternal High Priest, of whom you are to become living icons.
Riches - Careerism; Honors - Ostentation; Pride - Conceit. They line up. They sum up the destruction of a good priest. And so we pray that all seminarians will pursue the opposite virtues that Benedict outlines: Charity, Chastity, Humility, with the same zeal and passion that many seem to pursue offices, positions, the Bishops chair. 

Markel, SJ

1 comment:

Markel & Mason said...

Excellent points Markel!

Mason Slidell