St. Thomas teaches that Humility is a subdivision of the Virtue of Temperance - the rational estimation of one's true merits, seen in the cold light both of one's sins and of God's many gifts. A consistent awareness that all of our good acts are only possible (after the fall) thanks to actual graces and that our very existence is contigent on God's deciding each moment to keep us from falling into the Void... all this should be quite enough to keep the average man from succumbing to Vainglory. (The Seven Deadly Sins by John Zmirak)It's funny, in a way, how often we call our culture one of death but in an ironic twist this culture and the youth are so far removed from actual death and dying that it's no wonder people scoff at that term.
Culture of death? People scarce know what death is or what it means anymore. I commented over at Subvet's place awhile back on how it seems like the further away we get from teaching our children about sin, death, heaven & hell, the further towards disrespecting actual life we get, the close we are (individually) to inflated senses of self. Conversely, when we start to understand how very close we are, every second, every breath, to 'falling into the Void' and it is only by God's will that we are saved from that - the closer to the earth we become, the more precious we know that each second is.
And yet, we forget. We are slapped in the face by the reality and the tangibleness of our existence... and we forget.
How is that possible? How is that even imaginable that we can simply forget that fact? It's like if you know a bomb had been placed inside of you and blithely carried on as if nothing was different. I've read somewhere (don't laugh, but I think it was cracked magazine) that we forget this to keep us sane - that if we kept that fact forefront in our mind all the time that we would not be able to function and that we would be driven insane.
Thinking about that, I would agree. I think Catholics are a pretty insane bunch, don't you? Every week on Sunday (or more for you really crazy daily-Mass goers), we are confronted by the fact that on this earthly plane, we will die. And yet we will live forever. So at least weekly, we are shown that our Savior died a tortuous, horrific death - and we are to emulate His example. Be brought low, and you will be raised up high. Be humble, and you will be exalted.
Crazy... just plain damn crazy. A Catholic kind of crazy.
Is that why the devil tempts our priests so much into messing around with the Mass? Is that why the devil tempts us so much into not going to Mass? Imagine the serpent whispering into your ear: "You won't live forever... hiss... you just have this one chance... your body will pass away... hiss... use your body and others' and dispose of them at your will..." The devil hates humility - NON SERVIAM! - and he will attack anyone who tries to be humble and emulate our Lord. And the best way to start the road of humility is at Mass. So where else than for the devil to attack, but there?
It's hard to find a Mass, nowadays, that isn't filled with abuses... I think in part, because people - whether it's a priest, or a committee, or liturgy coordinator - say, "Well, we can do better than that. We know our parish best, of course, and the Vatican doesn't. We'll just add a little bit here, or take out that part there. We know better. *nudge, nudge, wink, wink*." Know better than the Church? Talk about pride - talk about Non Serviam!
But give someone even a hint of power or wealth or prestige and it's incredibly hard to say, "Not my will, but yours, Lord" or "The Church, in her wisdom, knows better than I." It takes a certain amount of insanity to follow that path, because, contrary to what people say, you're not just 'following the rules.' You are bending your will, day after day, and sometimes hour by hour, to do what the Church teaches. That's hard work, and to subject yourself to it, day in and day out, is insanity because you keep expecting a different result than the day before.
The devil (through the world) whispers in our ears, "It's not worth it... it's all a lie... why waste the energy fighting what you want?" We must fight, my brethren. We must fight and be humble and follow the Church. Be a Catholic kind of crazy!
See also: Going Wrong