12 November 2005


Pride is a denial of God, an invention of the devil, contempt for men. It is the mother of condemnation, the offspring of praise, a sign of barrenness. It is a flight from God's help, the harbinger of madness, the author of downfall. It is the cause of diabolical possession, the source of anger, the gateway of hypocrisy. It is the fortress of demons, the custodian of sins, the source of hardheartedness. It is the denial of compassion, a bitter pharisee, a cruel judge. It is the foe of God. It is the root of blasphemy.

John Climacus (7th century monk)
quoted in The Cloister Walk
(found at Happy Catholic)

"It is a flight from God's help, the harbinger of madness, the author of downfall." Yes, yes, a thousand times yes.

During my marriage, I was trying to live out a way of life which refused anything like help or aid or assistance. My mother considered it to be weakness to ask for help with anything, and she would do so only when there was no alternative. I hope for your sake you cannot adequately imagine what that meant in terms of living conditions, emotional and physical health, and so on.

It took a long time before I realized that people are out there who are willing and able to help, and that they would not look down on me for needing that help.

I ask for help and advice a lot, these days. With each admission of impotence or confusion, I feel the bite of humility as it sands down the hard walls of my soul.

"It is the denial of compassion, a bitter pharisee, a cruel judge." How often I denied myself compassion and judged myself cruelly in terms I would never use to another - to the point where I was incapable of saying what needed to be said! I endured terrible situations while stringently lecturing, berating and chastising myself for every real or imagined transgression of "the way things ought to be."

I am better now. Unfortunately, the pendulum has swung a bit too far the other way, and I am conscious of the need to find center, so that I don't repeat the horrors of my mother's house. However, even in my clutter, I am different from her. My kitchen and bathrooms are spotless. I feed myself well, and see the doctor regularly. I exercise and sleep and do lots of things which normal, healthy people do. And I am conscious of having limitations of time, energy, and smarts in some areas of life, but I no longer think I need to excel in every single thing I do. When I run up against a problem or can't figure something out, I do something which is beginning to feel more normal and natural every time I try it: I ask for help.

God is good. And patient!

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