Friday, October 15, 2010

Removing the Blindfold

I have to admit that I have a hard time believing in miracles. It’s a strange thing because I believe in the miracles chronicled in the bible. But I have a hard time believing the miracles that happen around me. The gospel reading this Sunday really spoke to me. Jesus healed 10 leapers, but only one came back to give thanks to God. What happened to the other 9? Did they believe in their miraculous healing? Did they see what happened to them with their hearts? Would I be the leaper who came back to thank and praise God, or would I be completely oblivious to what happened? Or worse yet, would I be ungrateful for the miracle?


I am a product of today’s modern society. As a society, we have made tremendous gains in technology, science and industry. And as a result, we tend to be blinded by our own knowledge. We are distracted by our own achievements. In some cases, we have explained away God or the need for God. The pride we gained through our accomplishments has made us blind to the spiritual forces around us. We are quick to explain away those little miracles with science or chance. We are reluctant to give God the credit. Our society has become very secular. And I am right in the middle of it. How do I take off the blindfold? How do I regain that innocent child-like faith that so easily recognizes influences of God in everything around her? How do I live in the world but not be of the world?

I think the first step is to acknowledge that the blindfold exists. You can’t change what you don’t acknowledge. So, since I know the blindfold is there, I can seek to remove it. But I find the process of removal is not easy. I have been convicted lately by pride. In fact, I would not be remiss to assume the majority of the threads that make up the fabric of my blindfold are strong and stubborn pride. In my latest trip to the confessional where I once again poured out my sin of pride, Father gave me the Litany of Humility as my penance. After praying this prayer, I realized that pride can disguise its self in many ways. Not only are the desires of praise, extolment, and honor rooted in pride, but also are the fears of humiliation, ridicule, and suspicion. If we could rid ourselves of pride, then we would not fear being wrong or being suspected or being forgotten. We would not seek honor, praise or recognition. Imagine how free we would be. If I could remove the pride from my eyes, I wonder what miracles I would see?

So how do I take off the pride? How do I see with those child-like eyes again? Jesus shows us what it is like to live without pride. He never worked to gain anything for himself. He never feared what people would think of Him. He never sought the approval of anyone but His Father. He sacrificed His perfect, pride-less lifeblood to gain our lives. He laid all of Himself on the altar at Calvary in complete surrender to the will of the Father. And in that surrender, God conquered hell for us. He found a way to bring us home to His presence. Jesus shows us the awesome beauty in surrender.

So, I think that the key to conquering pride is found in surrender. When we truly lay everything down on the altar and seek the Father’s will, we become free. We don’t spend energy seeking glory, praise and approval. We are not afraid of being wronged, despised or forgotten. We put others before ourselves so that they may become holier- even more holy than you or I. Isn’t that what Jesus asks us to be? To be an arrow pointing to Him? To be His mirror so that when we gaze at Him, others see His reflection in us? St. Augustine says:

You who do not see God will, by loving your neighbor, make yourself worthy of seeing him. By loving your neighbor, you cleanse your eyes so you can see God.
When we completely surrender ourselves to Him at the foot of the cross, He reaches down and removes our blindfold. He pays the price so that He can remove it and He frees us from ourselves- our pride. But first, we must surrender-wholly and completely surrender. And then He takes our surrendered beings molds us into the creatures we were meant to be; creatures who love Him and each other as He loves us. And with that love, we see the world through His eyes. We see Him along with His miracles in every person He places in our path. And then we can’t help but to serve and love our neighbor because, in doing so, we serve and love Christ himself.

I fear that this kind of surrender is going to take me a lifetime. There are some days when I surrender a little more of myself and the blindfold falls away for a moment. And there are other days when I am clearly trying to navigate my own way through life completely blinded by the world. When the blindfold falls away, I do see things differently. The beauty of the world is so vivid. The exhaustive love in my heart overflows into the deepest corners of my being so that I can’t help but share it with others. I am easily overwhelmed by all the needs in the people around me. And that leaves me happy to rejoice in my own suffering in order to provide some relief for theirs. But when I am blinded, creation’s beauty isn’t as spectacular as the world’s distractions. The instinct to succeed and win approval takes over. The fears of ridicule and failure guide my thoughts and decisions. Suddenly, my neighbor’s problems are not nearly as big as my own. And before I know it, I am surrounded by the cold grayness the world and my blindfold have to offer.

It is my prayer that the Lord will keep calling me to the foot of the cross. That He will continue to bring me to my knees in surrender. And with every piece of myself I place in His hands, He molds me into the person He created me to be. I pray that one day my blindfold will fall off forever- that I will have surrendered everything to my Lord just as He surrendered everything to me. How beautiful it will be to see the world be through His eyes. How lovely it will be to see Him in everyone around me. How privileged I will be to love and serve all the neighbors the Lord places in my path with a happy heart. And then, how magnificent it will be to witness His miracles and then give Him all the praise, glory and honor forever and ever.

Litany of Humility

Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val (1865-1930),
Secretary of State for Pope Saint Pius X

O Jesus! meek and humble of heart, Hear me.
From the desire of being esteemed,
Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being loved...
From the desire of being extolled ...
From the desire of being honored ...
From the desire of being praised ...
From the desire of being preferred to others...
From the desire of being consulted ...
From the desire of being approved ...

From the fear of being humiliated ...
From the fear of being despised...
From the fear of suffering rebukes ...
From the fear of being calumniated ...
From the fear of being forgotten ...
From the fear of being ridiculed ...
From the fear of being wronged ...
From the fear of being suspected ...

That others may be loved more than I,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be esteemed more than I ...
That, in the opinion of the world, others may increase and I may decrease ...
That others may be chosen and I set aside ...
That others may be praised and I unnoticed ...
That others may be preferred to me in everything...
That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should…

2 comments:

Equus nom Veritas said...

It sounds like you have a good confessor, from his penances. On the miracles thing, never forget: you are a Catholic, and so are weekly the witness to one of the must mysterious and wonderful miracles of all, which utterly confounds the sciences: that of Transubstantiation. It confounds the scientists, because they lack a vocabulary and understanding of metaphysics; it confounds the philosophers, because even with such a background, they cannot understand the mystery of what happens. It confounds us, and we believe, but the human capacity for understanding is overwhelmed by the mystery. Still we believe, and so we witness this miracle and are strengthened by it.

The Miller Family said...

J.C.- Beautifully said! I must not forget that miracle! How unworthy we are to receive our Lord in such a way. And yet He is there. He comes inspite of who we are. That's a miracle within a miracle.