“I explained to the children during their Confirmation retreat a few days ago about the twin sins of pride and laziness. These sins often go together. The proud man is surprised that he makes mistakes. He thinks God should make him good because of his own good works, because of his own merit.
A lazy person is not just someone who sits on the couch all day watching TV. A lazy person is also the person rushing around, the person doing many, many things, the person who is always running, running, running. Our society is always running, running, running. We don’t want to sit and think. We don’t want to ask deep questions. We don’t want to watch suffering and struggle straight in the face. So we rush around doing many things, none of them well, instead of taking time to do one thing well for Jesus.
The remedy for pride, according to St. Bernard, is humility. The man who has humility is not surprised that he makes mistakes. He is nothing in himself. He simply takes his mistakes and gives them to Jesus, asking him for mercy.
The remedy for “laziness” is contemplation, stillness. We need to sit still and focus. Then we need to have endurance, and patience. With stillness, endurance and patience we can wait for the Lord. We can stay present and watch all the struggle and suffering in the world turn into redemption.”
These words went straight to my heart today. Father Francisco doesn’t preside over my church’s English Masses very often. He is too busy running the 11 Spanish Masses our church hosts each weekend.
It might just be that he shares an unusual name with my son, but every time I hear him speak, I feel that Father Francisco sort of levitates with goodness. His native language is obviously Spanish, which Father Francisco then translates mentally into Latin and finally English. When you are in the confessional with him you can hear him struggle with the language. As a result, there are these delays, some foreign language terms and then WHAM the English term will come out and go right into your soul. It’s an incredible experience. I remember shaking once after a “I lost my temper again with the children this week. I promised Jesus I’d do better with controlling my anger for Lent and I failed him again and again" confession. Father Francisco answered me with the most pure voice in slow words “Jesus . . . comes . . . for sinners. We… must . . . have. hope!”
This homily about pride and sloth hit home. I realize that my perfectionism is a real hang-up. In Father Francisco’s words, I’m still “surprised” that I lose my temper with my kids. I’m still surprised that I forget to say my daily St. Louis de Monfort prayers. I’m surprised that I feel uncharitable and unforgiving of my neighbor. I need to let go off the “how could I mess up again when I’m trying to be such a good Catholic, what is wrong with me?” thoughts. Those thoughts are just pride taking the reigns again.
As for laziness, right now the “rushing frantically from one activity to another” is my biggest problem as a stay-at-home mother. My kids are still young, so we don’t even use the car most days. Still, I’m moving from one emergency to the other, one cup of milk request to another, one load of laundry to the next without working on those precious virtues of contemplation, endurance, and patience.
Today, the Eucharist was working. When my son did this awful thing with a bodily fluid that is too gross to mention on the Internet, I started to freak out. I started to think “poor me.” Why did his accident happen just as Hannah and I were making good progress on her writing skills? When am I going to get some time out of my day to get some REAL work done?
Then as I got out the steam cleaner, I started talking to Saint Bernadette in my imagination. If Saint Bernadette were with me, she’d tell me to stop being so upset. She’d tell me that as servants of Mary, all work is equal. Cleaning up after my son’s potty accident is no less important that teaching my daughter how to make a Welcome Pope Benedict sign. I imagined her exclaiming about what a wonderful invention the steam cleaner is, how light my housework is compared to work in her time period. I started mentally thanking my mother-in-law who knew that a deluxe steam-cleaner was the perfect Christmas present for a house with several small children and a dog. A little chat with my favorite Saint turned my mental thoughts right around.
I hope all of you are finding good spiritual food during this Easter Season.