June 02, 2009

Don't Be Smug!

He then addressed this parable to those who were convinced of their own righteousness and despised everyone else.
"Two people went up to the temple area to pray; one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector.
The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself, 'O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity--greedy, dishonest, adulterous--or even like this tax collector.
I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.'
But the tax collector stood off at a distance and would not even raise his eyes to heaven but beat his breast and prayed, 'O God, be merciful to me a sinner.'
I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted." --The Gospel of St. Luke 18:9-14


No matter how bad and far into sin I get I want everyone to know that I'm not as bad as "that guy".

WRONG!

I may not ever come out and say that or write that but I'm thinking it! And often.

Or something similar: Well, I'm not as bad as I used to be. I've come a long way.

Have I?

It's usually right around the time I'm acting smug that I fall flat on my face; a well-timed reminder that the more I may change, the more I remain the same.

Sinful as always. Maybe it's a comfort that I can add sorrowful to sinful-that has not always been the case.

Saturday night a buddy offered to front a cover charge for me because I'm not working right now. I KNEW full well that this friend being one of my former partying buddies, and I were probably going to get into trouble. I have a lamentable tendency towards unwise extremism. I knew it. I suspected it. I went anyway.

So, there I was on Pentecost Sunday sitting in my pew during Communion. I was so proud of myself for avoiding serious sin for the duration of the Easter season. Well, there you have it.

I am my own worst enemy.

No one, least of all me, should ever feel smug because they think they are better than the "other guy"

Meanwhile, across town, a group at the Cathedral were trying to receive Communion in an unworthy manner. I recused myself. Should I feel smug about that? I was aware enough to not attempt to receive and they weren't? Maybe one action is not as bad as the other, but having to remain in my pew during Communion is not ideal in any event.

We are all sinners.

Humility, as I've mentioned before on this blog, is something I continually struggle with. I'm convinced that sometimes I get tired of fighting against it and give in. Call it Satan, call it my own innate weakness or both. In any event, my arrogance and smugness are continual temptations.

9 Comments:

Blogger Terry Nelson said...

Yep. We are all sinners. It isn't being smug to know we should refrain from communion when our conscience tells us to. The Holy Spirit who speaks through our conscience in his convincing power concerning sin, instructs and consoles our soul and gives us genuine peace - this cooperation with the Spirit is a great grace and a proof of his love, it is a sign of his indwelling. When the soul is unable to commune sacramentally, we can do so by desire, that is humility too.

June 02, 2009 1:04 PM  
Blogger Mairin :o) said...

I think that is why Pride is called the root of all evil. Every other sin stems from it. Humility is pride's opposite.

I think there are very, very few people in this world who don't struggle with Pride.

The point is, even if you fall, you are aware of it and are working on it.

June 02, 2009 1:42 PM  
Blogger Angela M. said...

GREAT post!

June 02, 2009 3:13 PM  
Blogger Ray from MN said...

Frankly, I'm noticing more and more people recently "sitting in their pew" at Communion time.

I'm not sure if it is because they ate a Hershey bar on the way to church or that they committed one of the seven capital sins. It doesn't matter.

Actually a feeling of love comes over me at the sight of their humility. I wish it was more common.

It is a good sign.

Even after I came back to the Church after an absence of 21 years or so, for some time I often would be too embarrassed to remain seated, thus adding an even deeper black smudge to my immortal soul.

Only in the past year or two has my personal humility grown to the point where I have been able to remain seated.

But it's not at all strong.

It is aided tremendously by the knowledge as to where I can go to confession around here seven days a week.

That, of course, is aided by being able to say, "Bless me Father, for I have sinned. It has been four days since my last Confession."

June 02, 2009 5:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If we take pride in how "holy" we've become, we are not humble. As for Catholics "sitting in their pew" at Communion time, this is not a "good sign." Either it means they have committed a grave sin and feel unworthy to receive or they haven't and they do not trust in God's mercy or that the Mass is ordered to the forgiveness of venial sins.

June 03, 2009 11:31 AM  
Blogger Ray from MN said...

Anon.

You forgot the third possibility.

How about if they are aware that they have committed a grave sin, have not gone to Confession, and decide to receive Holy Communion anyway, thus committing another grave sin of sacrilege?

June 03, 2009 11:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I didn't forget anything. I was responding to your comment, "I'm noticing more and more people recently 'sitting in their pew' at Communion time.

I'm not sure if it is because they ate a Hershey bar on the way to church or that they committed one of the seven capital sins. It doesn't matter.

Actually a feeling of love comes over me at the sight of their humility. I wish it was more common.

It is a good sign."

That's why I wrote, "As for Catholics 'sitting in their pew' at Communion time, this is not a 'good sign.' Either it means they have committed a grave sin and feel unworthy to receive or they haven't and they do not trust in God's mercy or that the Mass is ordered to the forgiveness of venial sins.

June 03, 2009 5:08 PM  
Blogger swissmiss said...

I think there used to be a period of time when some Catholics were discouraged fron receiving Communion regularly. My aunt used to take us to the cabin on weekends, so of course we would attend Mass with her. Very often she would remain in the pew during Communion.

Now that she is retired, she is a daily Mass attendee and does receive Communion.

June 04, 2009 8:07 AM  
Blogger Ray from MN said...

I think Swissie has a point there.

I visit patients at the VA Hospital here and quite often, from elderly patients (older than me [GR])I hear "Oh, I went to Communion yesterday."

I suspect that that belief is so ingrained in them that I wouldn't be able to convince them that it is OK and encouraged now.

June 05, 2009 9:11 AM  

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