Thursday, 24 October 2013

The Second Beatitude: Meekness part 1

Blessed are the meek; for they shall possess the land
Matthew 5; 4
Lack of Meekness
To recap: at the bottom line poverty of spirit is to have a child-like trust in God and therefore to be free from all fears, a virtue so necessary in a world increasingly dominated by true fears or propaganda-generated fears, on a par with Orwell' s 1984. We should not fear any person, thing or situation since all that we have and are have been placed in God's hands in secure trust. We therefore don't worry, facing real problems head on, thinking through them as best we can, praying, obtaining advice and, on deciding, leaving the rest to God. We should refrain from returning to the problem, again and again picking its scab: this is detrimental to us.
Obedience forms the backbone of the Beatitudes and is fundamental to them. This is why God is so severe on disobedience within the Church and with those placed in just authority over us. Only through obedience can we gain true freedom as children of God as in the case of our road system: only with adherence to the Highway Code can we expect to roam freely with minimum risk of accident, especially if everybody is obedient to them too.  
Disobedience by anybody disrupts life and can be detrimental to it by adversely affecting or terminating the life of others and ourselves. Those who exhibit disobedience within the Church are in double jeopardy, firstly from their own arrogance and secondly from the severe judgement of God. Adam and Eve must remind us continually of the consequences of disobedience. Therefore if Jesus advocated adherence to the Beatitudes to his followers who are we to disagree or disobey?
If we think that mastering poverty of spirit and emptying ourselves of all worldliness is tough, then gaining this virtue will help in cracking an even tougher nut of meekness. As has already been pointed out, to understand Pope Francis we need to become embedded in the Beatitudes and approach his advice and homilies within this context. We should apply the mind of a child rather than our intellect or theological knowledge. Dissecting his words within or out of context, looking for hidden meanings, deep theological controversy or points for criticism because of perceived departure from Tradition, in his case will leave us puzzled, confused or worried.
We have to stand back and hear what is said with the clarity of the mind of a child. For example the word "good" to a child means not hurting somebody, including himself, and obeying those in authority, especially parents and teachers. So we should not look for depth or hidden content where there is none. We have to be meek, putting aside our self, preconceptions, prejudices, preferences and the safe and solid that we hold dear. This a time of personal challenge.
To be really meek or humble is extremely difficult, requiring courage or guts. We can never

know when we
are truly meek: the moment we feel or declare ourselves meek is the moment when are most certainly not. Only others can pronounce on and judge our progress: a confessor or spiritual director. We just have to accept that in gaining the virtue of meekness we struggle blindly in our faith and in the knowledge that God will help any of our genuine attempts. This virtue of meekness is the sure remedy for pride, arrogance, disobedience and anger in our make-up.
Let's make a start along this difficult road upon which all of us have to travel in this life or in purgatory, for without the virtues of a child we cannot hope to get into heaven. We need to first begin to understand what a lack of meekness is in terms of our deficiencies of personality and our relation with, and especially impact on, others.
We all suffer from a degree of selfishness at the centre of our very being: we exhibit self-love or even self-hate (both are detrimental), we want honours or in the inverse, degradation, rights or self-pitying nothingness, reputation of all kinds, consideration or admiration or attention, independence and liberty to do our own thing no matter what or the consequential impact on others. 

We desire free-choice over our lives and over others who affect us or get in our way.
Coupled with this list is our lacking in the qualities of meekness as we are proud, impatient, angry or irritable, and resentful of slights or injuries no matter how small. It all comes down to a single letter "I" or word "Me"; these two have to removed from our lives as irrelevant, unimportant and even dangerous. We should try to count the times each day that we use or think "I" or "Me" in conversation to discover our dedication to self and not others.


If at this stage we feel that we are not that deficient in meekness, then we have to confront head on imperfect or false meekness by the real impact we are having on others, especially our family: are we building or deconstructing by our lack of zeal, gentleness or control over our tantrums or fury due to not getting what we want? Are we touchy , choleric, swift to take offence in small matters, slow to forgive, nurse injuries, harbour grudges or brood over getting our own back one day for petty or imagined injuries? All of these, no matter how small or slight, can act as a slow poison over time.
Other destructive attributes, or more correctly sins, include vulgarity, ingratitude, insularity, cutting speech, sarcasm, bitter irony, being picky, spiteful and cruel humour, all vices, envy, jealousy and anger which can be easily corrected such as quarrelling, contention, loudness in talk and behaviour including brashness, coarseness and abuse of anybody. The bottom line of this lack of meekness is that we don't recognise God as the motive for all our actions including our real lack of love for our neighbour, especially our enemies many of whom are to be found within our family and work environment.

A good help to achieving meekness is to keep the following five truths in front of the mind:

Life is hard.
You are going to die.
You are not in control.
You are not important.
Life is not about you.

Let us honestly digest and reflect our failures in being meek, making good and humble use of the Sacrament of Confession to progress and maybe we might use the following prayer, seeking God's help in achieving the progress that hopefully we will never know about:

Litany of Humility
(for private devotion only)
His Eminence Cardinal Merry del Val recited the following daily:

Response: deliver me Jesus.
O Jesus meek and humble of heart, hear me.
From the desire of being esteemed:
From the desire of being loved:
From the desire of being extolled:
From the desire of being honoured:
From the desire of being praised:
From the desire of being preferred:
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 ridiculed:
From the fear of being wronged:
From the fear of being suspected:

Response: Jesus grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be loved more than I:
That others may be esteemed more than I:
That in the opinion of the world, others may increase and I 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 be holier that I, provided that I may become as holy as I should:


The Preaching of the Beatitudes, H J Coleridge, Burns Oates 1876
The Eight Beatitudes, George Chevrot, Sinag-tala 1981.