I have an article that was published at canadafreepress.com more than 10 years ago (March 24, 2009). The title of the article is, Americans Largely Silent As Their Nation Is Systematically Destroyed. The author of the article, JB Williams, wrote about the unbridled power of the politicians in Washington, DC, the destruction of the value of the dollar, the manipulation of the media, and the fact that the American people seem to be completely oblivious about what is happening to their great nation.
Last September, Weight Watchers announced that it was changing its name from Weight Watchers to WW. The announcement stated that the new name was a reflection of the company’s current focus on overall health and wellness. The CEO of Weight Watchers, Mindy Grossman, said that the company remained “committed to always being the best weight management program on the planet,” but she emphasized that they were committed to focusing more on healthier eating, exercising, and meditation.
I ordinarily attend daily Mass at Sacred Heart Church in downtown Peoria. Last Monday (March 25), I saw my parents at noon Mass and talked to them after the Mass. My mom told me that it was the 58th anniversary of her consecration to the Mother of God. I knew that she had made her consecration years ago, but I was not aware of the actual date.
As I walked out of the doctor’s office, my mind flashed back to the mid-1980s, when I taught Business Law at ICC. I spent a lot of time preparing for that class, but it was worth it. The young, fresh-faced students were captivated by the stories I told about my experience as a lawyer. To make the class more interesting, I intentionally wove stories throughout the material I presented to them. This made an otherwise boring class into an adventure into the inner workings of our justice system.
One of the things that I taught my students was the four basic elements that are required before a contract can be legally binding between two parties. The four elements are:
1. Offer – a promise to act or refrain from acting.
Last month, Jessica’s husband, Dan Rose, and her mother, Carol Starr, were interviewed on the ABC television show, Good Morning America. Both Dan and Carol said that they believed that Jessica killed herself because of complications that were caused by laser surgery that she had on her eyes in October 2018.
During the interview, Dan stated, “She really knew something was not right within a matter of days. She started to complain of incredibly dry eyes. She had almost no night vision. She had starbursts that she was seeing during the day and at night.”
Carol stated that after the surgery, Jessica lost a significant amount of weight. “I kept saying, ‘Are you eating? Are you okay?’ She kept saying, ‘I’m not eating and I’m not sleeping, Mom. This is worrying me. I don’t think it’s going to get better,’” said Carol.
The surgery that Jessica went through was similar to Lasik eye surgery. The name of the surgery was SMILE, which is an acronym for “small incision lenticule extraction.” With SMILE, a laser is used to make a small opening on the eye to remove a layer of tissue. The removal of the tissue corrects nearsightedness by reshaping the cornea. SMILE surgery is supposed to be less invasive than Lasik.
During the weeks following her surgery, Jessica posted several video diaries on her Facebook page where she talked about complications she was having as a result of the surgery. One of her complaints was that the dryness in her eyes was so bad that she had to use eye drops every five minutes to lubricate her eyes.
When she died, Jessica left behind her husband and two children, a five-year-old and three-year-old.
After her death, Jessica’s family, friends, and coworkers were all in a state of shock. She had never talked about committing suicide. They later concluded that Jessica experienced extreme depression and anxiety about her chronically dry eyes, her lack of night vision, and the starbursts that she was seeing during her waking hours.
Whenever a person experiences chronic pain and/or suffering, there is a possibility that the person will lose hope for the future. This is something that I always talk about when I present an injured client’s case to a jury.
Here’s an example of what I ordinarily say to a jury when I have a client who is experiencing chronic pain and suffering:
The only other thing that I’m going to mention about pain and suffering before I move on is that both pain and suffering interrupt hope for the future. We were all created with a desire for hope.
I believe that one of the biggest shocks we’re going to experience immediately after our deaths will be when God reveals to us what we could have achieved if we had followed His plan for us. The disparity between what we actually achieved on Earth and what He planned for us will be so enormous that we will be completely flabbergasted. What will be most obvious to us is how selfish we were and how most of our thoughts and actions were focused on what we could do for ourselves rather than what we could do for God and our neighbor.
In order to close the gap between who we actually are and what God intended for us to be, we must focus daily on managing and eliminating our pride and our primary fault. We must freely choose to actively resist the tendencies and temptations that favor our pride and our primary fault. At the same time, we must also choose to practice the actions and virtues that are contrary to our sinful tendencies and faults. By doing this, we will be imitating our Savior in a minor but important way.
In the Garden of Gethsemane, while our Lord was praying and anguishing over the suffering and death he was about to endure, He could have easily chosen to flee and never return to Jerusalem or any of the cities surrounding Jerusalem. He had a free will just like you and me. He had the freedom to choose to disappear into the wilderness, or to accept and embrace the suffering and death that His Almighty Father had planned for Him. By freely choosing to follow His Father’s plan, He opened the gates of Heaven for all of us.
Unfortunately, most people don’t think about what God’s plan is for them. They don’t think about or realize that before they can successfully follow God’s plan, they must first diligently work on eliminating their faults. They behave as though they will never have to answer to God for their behavior. Yet they wonder why their lives are so empty. And they blame others for their inability to improve themselves.
If you have read about some of the lives of the saints, you know that they had a daily regimen in which they prayed and assessed where they were in life and where they thought God wanted them to be. They knew the importance of self-management. They also knew that if they were to live up to God’s expectations, they had to develop certain habits and rituals that forced them to regularly review and manage themselves. They weren’t perfect at this, but they were at least 10 times better at it than most people are at managing their lives.
One of the techniques Saint Ignatius of Loyola taught to his students was for them to set aside time each day — early in the morning and again at around noon — to determine how well they had done since the last time they had reflected on how they were spending their time. They were taught to reflect on: (1) how well they had done in managing and overcoming their faults, (2) how well they had done in following God’s plan and the plan they had prepared for themselves, and (3) what God’s plan for them was for the next half day.
In reviewing how well they had done in overcoming their faults, Saint Ignatius’s students were instructed to review what each of them had done to manage and correct their pride and their primary fault. Had they freely chosen to give up the traits that were associated with their faults? Had they freely chosen to practice the virtues that were contrary to their faults?
I want to suggest to you that you immediately incorporate Saint Ignatius’s exercise into your daily regimen. I’m going to provide you with a cheat sheet that you can use to review — in the morning and at around noon of each day — to determine what sinful tendencies you engaged in, and what virtues and virtuous actions you engaged in. Here’s the cheat sheet:
Pride – Defiance, intolerance, vanity, boastfulness, disdainfulness, revengefulness, impatience, unforgiveness, self-centeredness, stubbornness, unbridled ambition, self-aggrandizement, dishonesty, hypersensitivity, conceitedness, haughtiness, touchiness, and blindness to advice.
The biggest obstacle to minimizing our pride is the satisfaction and pleasure we receive when we engage in prideful thoughts and behavior. We enjoy the feeling of being superior to others. We get great satisfaction from being defiant, intolerant, and impatient with others. We like the feelings and emotions that are associated with the belief that we are smarter than everyone else. We take pleasure in getting revenge against people who have slighted or betrayed us.
None of these attributes were present in the holy family. The Son of God was conceived inside the womb of the Virgin Mary by the Holy Spirit and was completely free from all sin. The Blessed Mother was conceived without sin inside the womb of her mother, Anne. (This is referred to as the Immaculate Conception). And according to Catholic tradition, Joseph, the spouse of Mary and the foster father of Jesus, was born with original sin, but after his birth, his soul was cleansed and the stain of all sin was removed by Almighty God.
Even though Jesus, Mary, and Joseph were truly superior to all others, they behaved as though they were less deserving than everyone they came into contact with. They humbly relinquished the freedom they had to be self-righteous and to feel superior to others. They also voluntarily gave up their freedom to be defiant, intolerant, vain, boastful, impatient, unforgiving, dishonest, hypersensitive, conceited, stubborn, revengeful, and blind to advice.
The holy family had every right to be self-righteous, unforgiving, and revengeful, yet they consciously utilized their free will to reject any temptation that may have come their way to engage in one or more of those vices.
Pride is only the first of two steps that we have to take on a daily basis to deal with our limitations, faults, and fears. The second step is to work at overcoming our primary fault. Because of original sin, we were all born with seven root passions: pride, lust, anger, covetousness, envy, gluttony, and sloth. These are referred to as the Seven Capital Sins, and are also known as the Seven Capital Tendencies or the Seven Capital Passions.
Humanity’s first parents, Adam and Eve, had complete control over their root passions. Unfortunately, as a result of their original sin, they lost the ability to exercise complete control over their passions. Ever since then, original sin has automatically been communicated to and imposed upon all newly created souls. Every one of us — except for Jesus and Mary — inherited original sin from our first parents. Baptism removes original sin and restores sanctifying grace — the friendship of God — within a person’s soul; however, baptism does not remove the stain of original sin or our tendency to succumb to the root passions.
Our worst faults are often completely hidden from us. While the people who know us best can usually see our faults, most of the time we fail to see our own faults because our pride has completely blinded us to them. And, of course, the people who know and love us have given up on trying to tell us what our faults are, because they know we’ll react with anger and outrage if they are pointed out.
Because of our fallen human nature, combined with the individual unique traits we were born with, the environment we grew up in, and our life experiences as children and young adults, each of us developed a primary fault which caused us to become attached to and adept at one of the six remaining root passions — anger, lust, envy, gluttony, covetousness, or sloth. Here are the attributes that are associated with each of these six root passions:
Anger – Annoyance, indignation, rage, wrath, aversion, explosive, vindictive, impatience, revenge, cruelty, vengeance, not at peace, and/or fierce silence.