Be Humble, Specific, Persevering: Deep Conversion, Deep Prayer

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It’s been difficult to write the past week or so. Three kids have gotten sick so far, and I’m starting to feel the beginnings of a bad cold/cough. Not a bad ending to Lent at all. 🙂

I finished the book last week but here are my last reflections for the next “Be’s”.

The Fifth Be: Be Humble

Humility is complete honesty — not just partial candor, but full.

This Lent for me has been about clarity. It has been about opening up my heart to the Lord — no holds barred — and allowing His light to shine into its innermost spaces, the corners full of cobwebs, the nooks that I’m afraid to let even Him see. At the beginning of Lent, I was hoping He’d look into some of those nooks and say, “Don’t worry about it; you’re doing okay.” Instead He took some of my most precious possessions and told me frankly, “This doesn’t belong here.”

I have to admit I’m still not holy enough as to resist completely the urge to bargain with Him, to remonstrate, to follow up my “Yes” with a “but, Lord”… but the grace He grants me daily gets me through, somehow. I have to work on my humility to trust more consistently that He knows best, not just some of the time, but all of the time.

The very best scholars, whether they are physicists or theologians, have a good grasp of how much they do not know even in their own field, let alone those outside of it.

We may acknowledge that we have made some progress in holiness, but most likely there are some remaining egocentrisms. And all of us have experienced failures and made many mistakes.

No argument here.

Everything you and I have that is beautiful, insightful or successful is a gift of God. To be acutely aware of this is to be humble and grateful.

Humility invites light, divine light that we otherwise would not have.

To choose wisely in the multiplicities of life we need the light given in the virtue of prudence, and this light the Lord loves to give to the humble, the little ones.

This quote and the subsequent paragraph were extremely helpful to me. That word, prudence. It’s the HOW of things, of how I live my life, daily, hourly, in the moment. The choices I make, both large and small.

The Sixth Be: Be Specific

The spiritual life is, as Job 7:1 reminded us, a warfare. Vague wishes go nowhere. This is why many of the wise religious orders retain the practice they call particular examen…. the person focuses special daily attention on one fault to be corrected or one virtue to be acquired or improved upon: gossiping, overeating or bursts of temper, for example; or gentleness, humility or truth telling.

Extremely valuable lesson here, and one I need to apply better myself as well as emphasize to my children. So many times in the past when making resolutions (and I make them often, usually at the beginning of the year, at the beginning of Advent, of Lent, or the schoolyear, or after a break or sickness), I’ve made the mistake of overwhelming myself with a list of changes I need to make in my life. Then I look back at those lists months later and find that nothing much has changed, or that any progress that I’ve made hasn’t stuck. On the other hand, certain habits that I’ve really focused on to develop, such as praying the Morning Prayer and the Office of Readings first thing in the morning when I wake up, because I had made it a priority over other things for several weeks, are now habits, and I feel incomplete on days when I fail to pray them. Once again, my hubby’s rule of “one thing at a time” serves me well in this endeavor.

The Seventh Be: Be Persevering

And very few indeed will sacrifice comfort and ease for years on end — unless they are deeply in love, real love.

Implementing the Be’s means

a) a personal weekly checkup to ensure the seven Be’s aren’t forgotten.
b) periodic accountability to confessor or spiritual director.

Spouses in an ideal marriage could agree to be accountable to each other — even to the point of gently calling the other to task when such may be helpful.

🙂 Gratefully and by God’s grace, we are here.

A new word for me: monition: an agreed upon and welcomed admonishing of one another done in a spirit of mutual love, and at a mutually suitable time and place.

The seven Be’s feed off of each other.

We are then less likely to permit ourselves to forget any of the Be’s or to take our eyes off Jesus and his salvific message, the mainspring of the entire enterprise.

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