Sunday, 15 February 2015

a flattering superstition of self-love

It is time for more from Fr Faber.  I do heartily recommend his "Spiritual Conferences".  In time for Lent, I've been wading through the conferences on "self-deceit".  They make uncomfortable reading especially when he gets to his conclusion that the only time we are really free from self-deceit is when we meet Our Lord face to face: and well it is rather too late to do anything about it then.  He argues effectively and refreshingly against suffering and joy being paths to overcome self-deceit, instead he recommends simplicity in everything as being the firmest ground on which to build up our relationship with God and hence limit the damage done by our self-deceit.[ an aside - I remain convinced that the prescription for more suffering as a way of leading to holiness is fundamentally flawed and has done considerable harm.  Suffering has no intrinsic value, the only thing with value is God's love. Souls do suffer much and many saints have suffered greatly, but it was not their suffering that made them saints, suffering is not a supernatural virtue.]

Here is a taster:

No wonder self-knowledge is rare, when so few take pains to acquire it.  There are few even who honestly desire it.  There are but few men in the world who desire painful things, however salutary they may be; and self-knowledge is both painful in the acquisition and painful in the possession.  It is incredible how little honesty there is amongst religious people in religious matters.... Yet almost everyone claims to be preferring God before all things.  What a mass of unwholesome delusion then must the religious world be! It is.  A supernatural formalism outside with natural principles of action inside, and a thoroughly natural system, or rather quackery, of spiritual direction to keep things comfortable and respectable, - alas! it were devoutly to be wished that this definition embraced less than it does.


Is not life at every turn making unpleasant revelations of self?  But they are revelations, and that is noteworthy.  Yet what sort of wisdom is it for man to shun these revelations, because they disquiet him, when it will so concern him in the day of judgement to have known them? A spiritual life without a very large allowance of disquietude in it, is no spiritual life at all.  It is but a flattering superstition of self-love.  


Irim said...

I must say, I seem to have been...deceived in judging Father Faber by his hymns, which often feel a bit too sweet. These last two posts have been superb stuff; I definitely must get his Spiritual Conferences.

Suffering has no intrinsic value, the only thing with value is God's love.

Perfectly said. Suffering can come to value through G-d's love, but in and of itself, it is a state of being that needs transforming to bring holiness, and that can only be done by G-d.

Wish you lived nearer - am leading our work chapel (no hymns, just readings) and giving some Catholic thoughts on Ash Wednesday - would have loved to have you in for it! I'm touching on Lent being about stripping away to the bare essentials, down to the parts we'd rather not face, down to us and G-d - so your post has been very helpful indeed. Thank you!


Jackie Parkes said...

LOve these posts! Am over at these days :) Sorry keep changing blogs - but am now in Ireland.