Saturday, November 04, 2006

Who am I (Part 6 - Now in the '80s)

I deceived my mother and left her to her tears when I decided to go abroad. I was tired of meetings, of demonstrations, of agitation and chaos in my classes. I wanted to find an academic environment that would be more serious.
I looked for the truth in all sorts of different ideologies, conversing with the most important minds of the day. I was looking for answers to my questions and I went from 'guru' to 'guru', from one ideology to another. But none of their ways of thinking, including the one I was myself teaching at university, filled my heart. I kept searching. I read everything that came my way.

As a professor I was a success. It was fashionable to come to listen to my classes. I was influential and would often get invitations to talk in different places. I would say what needed to be said, even lying if necessary.
I was willing to do whatever needed to be done in order to have the right contacts in my professional work and for my cultural interests. I was famous! From the viewpoint of my career these were the best times. I was always making incredible plans and thinking about my future.

But one day, as I was walking along a street with some friends, going over in my head what a success I had become, I saw a poor beggar. He was smiling. He was happy. I was working and toiling in order to achieve my aims and when I did, wasI any happier? No. I've had to keep slogging on in order to keep my position in case anyone else took it. And yet, here was this beggar as happy as Larry, without doing anything at all... To be honest, I couldn't know whether he was really content, whether he was really happy but nonetheless I was certain of one thing: the one who wasn't happy was me. It wasn't that I wanted to live his life, it was that I didn't want to live mine. I was a big cheese. I had cultural and economic status. I had it all... and so what?
My friends told me I was stupid to compare my life to his. 'He only laughs', the said, 'because he's been drinking. You have every reason to be happy - you're a success'.
It was true. I was a success. But those triumphs as a professor and as a guest speaker, didn't make me happy. They depressed me. "At least," I thought to myself, "this beggar got his drink honourably: asking for alms. But I've only achieved success but betraying myself". If the beggar had been drinking, that very night his drunkenness would leave him, but I would go to sleep with mine, and I would get up with it, and go to sleep again and get up again - day after day...


Anonymous said... still out here and still am pretty sure it's St Augustine...noticed that no one else is getting back on this so thought it might be good to do so once again. Thinking of Augustine and your post on Fr Benedict Groeschel makes me wonder whether the latter has been influenced by Augustine. His (Augustine's) view of the human soul as "a rational substance designed to rule the body" - (cf.Magnitude of the Soul) seems a good ground for Fr Benedict's critique of the Freudian legacy of the 'psychology of blame'. From the litle I know of this he (Groeschel)seems to suggest there is psychological damage done by non-persual of virtue. Only if the soul is seen as free and able to rule the body can we have the psychological benefits of seeking and living the life of virtue. I hope those involved in formation of our UK priests are keeping informed by such developments and are not trapped in other schools of pyschology which not only damage the priest but also those to whom he gives counsel. Perhaps if this approach was embraced and united with the church's 'Gospel of Life' there would be a greater emphasis on the 'Gospel' - 'Good News' aspect and not the dull 'apologising'....'oh this is only a high ideal but don't worry if you can't reach it' of pastoral guidance. Sadly this only too often robs the faithful of the full vision not only of the 'ideal' but also of the truth that the Church's moral teachings are about a realisable invitation to live the life of virtue with all its additional blessings of pyschological well being.

Fr Stephen said...

Thanks for that anonymous. I would be surprised if Fr Benedict weren't influenced by St Augustine. I'm not sure what influences seminary psychology. Perhaps you should prepare some articles...