[Furthermore, anytime that a professed addict/alcoholic decides that they are going to start a public speaking career, move to Montana and live by themselves, those same red flags should be hoisted, prayer efforts redoubled….yes, we saw this coming.]
A priest, especially those who make vows of chastity, poverty and obedience make a public proclamation that they are choosing the narrow way and not the broad highway. And by the way, it’s not just them; we who are believers also choose the narrow way when we make a profession of faith. Do we not make a public condemnation of “Satan and all his works and all his pomps”? Yes we do; it is in our baptismal credo either answered for us in infant baptism or later by ourselves in the Adult Rites of Initiation. Words mean things and sacramental words are a potent representation or part of an outward sign of an inward reality; a life of grace.
Here’s another way to look at it: What goes up, must come down. “He who exalts himself shall be humbled and he who humbles himself shall be exalted.” (Luke 14:11). “Pride comes before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:28) This wisdom didn’t just towel snap us in the fanny a few seconds ago…it was around when the Dead Sea was still alive. Personal exaltation is a no-no. It is a brother to the original sin of pride and we know where that got us.
Here’s a clip from the St. Louis de Montfort’s Consecration to Mary on the Devilish Search for Greatness, Honor, Praise and Applause…
Devilish wisdom consists in an unlawful striving for human esteem and honors. This is the wisdom which the worldly-wise profess when they aim, although not openly, at greatness, honors, dignities and high positions; when they wish to be seen, esteemed, praised and applauded by men; when in their studies, their works, their endeavors, their words and actions, they seek only the good opinion and praise of men, so that they may be looked upon as pious people, as men of learning, as great leaders, as clever lawyers, as people of boundless and distinguished merit, or deserving of high consideration; while they cannot bear an insult, or a rebuke; or they cover up their faults and make a show of their fine qualities.
I remember the moment that I started to puzzle about the motives of Father John Corapi…like somebody leaning on a keyboard, it was when he named himself the Black Sheep Dog. Not only did this sound stupid & defensive, it is insulting to dogs! It is one thing to defend a position or even yourself in a matter of jurisprudence, it is quite another to endow yourself with a label over it, like some superhero. That’s when I knew he was in trouble and when I noticed that he wasn’t on the narrow path anymore. I shall offer prayers for him and for all who have been scandalized over the allegations. But a bigger lesson for me is that I must keep my watchful gaze on Christ and never on powerful men or women. Keeping principles before personalities is an idiom that works not only in AA, but in all areas of life. And finally, I, too must learn to keep my ego in check because I am as susceptible of a fall as those who have fallen before me.
“Straight is the gate and narrow is the way that leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matthew 7:14) To squeeze onto a narrow way, I think you have to be small. In spiritual language, smallness can be equated to meekness or humbleness. I remember thinking once that being fly-sized might be a good thing. It’s hard to be a target for the evil one when you’re quick and small. Quick to confession and small in ego. You may be familiar with the “Stay thirsty my friend” quote from the ‘most interesting man in the world’ commercial that put Dos Equis Beer on the map? Perhaps it might be prudent to craft a more fitting spiritual maxim about staying on the narrow path; How about:
Stay small my friend.