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"For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them." Matthew 18:20


Seeking Truth, Part II

Laura DeMaria

I didn't say quite all I wanted to say in that last post, I realized, because the question still remains, if self-knowledge is the foundation of God's love, how does one find oneself? From what I have read and learned, it turns out the saints are pretty unanimous on this account, too. The answer is best stated by John the Baptist (and how fitting for today, the the feast of the Baptism of the Lord): "He must increase, but I must decrease." (John 3:30)

This is also expressed again in John 12:24: "Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit." This feels counter-intuitive, but if you think about the purpose of a grain of wheat, it is to cease being itself and to become something else entirely - a growing plant. Unless it is cracked and burst open, it will remain static its whole existence, which can barely be called life. It will never change, and it will not fulfill its purpose. So, it must "die" to create new life. I interpret this dying as the act we all must make, in casting aside our fears and masks, and allowing our egos to die. It doesn't matter to lose one's ego; let's not confuse that with personality or the inner light that makes you you. Rather, ego is the web of self-deceit we gather around ourselves: fear of being inadequate, fear of not being pretty enough or successful enough, the desire to always be first, to fault-find with others, and so on. Removing the ego, as the saints have found, and learning to rely instead of God to hold ourselves together, is what allows us to get to our true self. The ego is never in your corner and it is the least authentic part of you, because it is the most fearful.

Bishop Fulton Sheen wrote quite a lot on the ego and its place as a stumbling block on the path toward Christ: "No one discovers anything big unless he makes himself small." And: "I don't want my life to be mine, I want it to be Christ's. The more ego there is, the less there is of Christ." I see what he means, and that even beyond, nothing really is yours. Your time certainly is not yours, and your talents are not. They all belong to God. “If you do not worship God, you worship something, and nine times out of ten it will be yourself. You have a duty to worship God, not because He will be imperfect and unhappy if you do not, but because you will be imperfect and unhappy.”

Br. Athanasius on Friday night talked about a flower growing (remember, that is the more important part, after the seed has died). He said, a flower does not know how it will grow. It does not sit and plan its own beauty. Similarly, we cannot micromanage our own progress in life because what God has in store for us is so much more unbelievably beautiful and real than anything we can imagine for ourselves. This certainly is true, even when I struggle with it. I struggle with it now, because I like to plan and there are certain things in my life I would like now, in a certain way, the way I see them. But, God must be telling me there is something else. And so I wait, like a flower unfolding, and that is fine, because many saints (known and unknown) have come before me and known this to be the absolute truth, that this is how God works, that we must decrease our egos so that He can increase. That we must make room for him in our lives so that we can be the real person He created us to be. In other words, I must get out of my own way! Truer words have never been spoken.

Lots of prayers on this topic. But, there is one very simple prayer that really covers all of this: Father, your will be done.