“You go on being worldly, frivolous and giddy because you are a coward. What is it, if not cowardice, to refuse to face yourself?” (St Josemaria Escriva, The Way #18)
Oh the busyness of modern life. We MUST answer that phone; we MUST return that text; we MUST see that sitcom or ballgame. There is so much that is not essential to life that we think essential and Lent is the perfect time to go about learning to avoid those non-essentials.
St. Escriva calls the result of non-essential things and activities, “worldly, frivolous and giddy” and states emphatically that the person pursuing such things is a coward who is using those things to avoid facing him or herself.
Why do we do these things? or better yet, What am I avoiding? Sometimes the fact is that some difficult task needs to be done. Something that is actually essential but no fun. I can find myself wasting an entire afternoon on facebook! And when I do, I KNOW that it is because I am avoiding something.
Sometimes what I am avoiding is an emotional truth. A self discovery that requires I change my habits to correct for a flaw in my character. NOT fun by any means, but essential. St. Escriva hits home with the accusation of cowardice. What is this avoiding truths about oneself but an act of cowardice?
So when I find myself diving into a worldly and frivolous activity and becoming giddy and obsessed with it, that is when a statement by the Saint, like the one I quoted above, is a kick in the pants and jars me out of my cowardly avoidance pattern.
I pick up the book I keep on my desk, read a simple short, pithy statement, receive the conviction, the kick in the pants, and then balk. Not my best character trait, this tendency to respond to a criticism by balking. Even worse, occasionally the criticism comes from my husband and my instant response is to balk and lash out irrationally. Of course, this means that later, as St. Escriva points out in yet another of his pithy statements, I must apologize and go about doing the work of self improvement.
Lent is an important time to seek improvement. We are to grow in perfection and holiness. It isn’t easy to grow spiritually. During Lent we practice prayer, charitable giving and penance because we are seeking to grow in holiness. St. Escriva’s writings help me to carry that desire for holiness into the whole year.
Which Saint’s writings provide you with the kick in the pants you need? Share that Saint with someone today and thank God too.
Thank You Lord for St. Josemaria Escriva and his pithy kick in the pants writing style that helps me face myself and seek to grow in perfection. Amen.