Religion & Spirituality:Spirituality
The Ladder of Divine Ascent - Chapter XXII: On Vainglory
Self-esteem . . . how the meaning of that has changed over the generations. And when it becomes abstracted from our relationship with God, when our self-identity, purpose, and meaning becomes unmoored from He who created us, self-esteem can become the most grotesque of the vices. It will not only diminish our virtues, but destroy them completely.
When the sweat and the toil of the spiritual life is turned back on the self or when ascetical practices become ends in themselves, they lose all value. Christ himself warns us about this in the Gospel. “If you fast in order that others see that you are fasting, then you have your reward.“ In other words, we have our payment in full. We see ourselves, and others see us as self-disciplined, but that is as far as the labor takes us.
In this sense we become the most pitiable of all men, because we are acting as if there is no resurrection. If the things we do in this world, including religious things, are done for ourselves and to build up our own egos then they will eventually turn to dust. The love that has been revealed to us is self-emptying.
In our day to hold fast to such an understanding can only seem absurd for in no way does it fit with the wisdom of the world. Only by keeping our eyes fixed upon God and fixed upon Jesus Christ and him crucified do we let go of the illusion not only of being the self-made man, but the self-made Christian. Religious people are not in capable of having their own delusions. In fact, the delusion of being religious can be the greatest among them and the most difficult to overcome. It is only when the cross is firmly rooted in the mind and the heart and when we have allowed ourselves to be humbled by it do we then become free; free, not for ourselves or to serve ourselves, but free to love others and God.
Text of chat during the group:
It is Free