Happy New Year to all our readers! Hope it’s off to a great start. As the new year began, I recalled a scene in Anne of Green Gables (the movie) where Anne apologizes to Miss Stacey, her teacher, for reading Ben Hur during math class. Miss Stacey chides her, not only for misusing math time, but for engaging in “a deception.” Anne apologizes profusely even promising not to read the book for a whole week as penance even to find out how the chariot race turns out. Miss Stacy consoles her saying, “We can hold on to the lessons we’ve learned from our mistakes. Remember, we can always start everything fresh tomorrow.” Anne replies, “That is a tremendous consolation, Miss Stacey. Tomorrow is always fresh with no mistakes in it.” Laughing a little, Miss Stacey responds, “Well, there are no mistakes in it yet!”
So how has your new year begun? Many “mistakes yet?” Did you make a new year’s resolution? Have you chosen a sin, fault, or “mistake” to work on? Small is best and most doable for resolutions as St. Ignatius teaches in his Spiritual Exercises. Work on one sin or fault, get it under control and then move on to something else. An unspecific resolution to “be a better person” is doomed.
Many of our sins and faults are directly linked to our temperaments, the responses and tendencies that influence our actions. Antiquity names four: melancholic, choleric, sanguine, and phlegmatic. The melancholic tends to grumble and complain, pick at the scabs of past wounds, and be quick to criticize. A choleric is likely to act too quickly often transforming small problems into bigger ones because of imprudent haste when counting to ten and “pondering in the heart” is what’s needed. The sanguine resembles a racehorse in the paddock restless and eager to be off enjoying life to the full. He is often an incessant talker who loves to be the center of attention and tends to dominate. The phlegmatic, on the other hand, simply sits back, watches the world go by, and is afraid to make decisions, sometimes leaving his serious duties to others. Procrastination allows him to avoid the risk of making a wrong decision.
Of course, there are strengths associated with the four temperaments as well. The melancholic is often a person of great loyalty who takes obligations seriously and follows through. The choleric is a crusader against evil and injustice, eager to solve problems. The sanguine personality makes friends easily, is cheerful and fun to be with. The phlegmatic tends to be low-key, easy going, and sympathetic.
Most of us are a combination of the four. Knowing our predominant and secondary temperaments can help us lead a more balanced life building on our strengths and working on our weaknesses.
A good start in the spiritual life is to understand ourselves How do we reach that understanding? By asking ourselves the important questions. Who am I? Why am I here? Where am I going? The old Baltimore Catechism (BC) took a question and answer approach to learning the faith. We can do the same and ask ourselves questions in the BC context. Why did God make me? How can I know Him and serve Him better? What are the primary duties of my state in life?
But even without a Catholic mindset, man needs self-knowledge! Can you imagine a person who knows he hates anchovies ordering an anchovy pizza? But that’s exactly what the person lacking self-knowledge does on a regular basis. “I hate being used,” thinks the pretty young teen as she dons a bikini that draws a boy’s attention away from her eyes, the windows of the soul, to ogle her body and imagine the delights in that garden of lust? Does she know what she’s doing to herself and others? And what about the young man who says he wants to become a doctor, but hangs out with friends whose only object is to get high and have fun. Does he not see how his actions conflict with his goal? St. Teresa of Avila wrote an entire book on knowing oneself, The Interior Castle. Early on she writes, “self-knowledge is so important that, even if you were raised right up to the heavens, I should like you never to relax
your cultivation of it.” She then emphasizes the virtue that fosters it, “so long as we are on this earth, nothing matters more to us than humility...it is a very good thing -- excellent, indeed -- to begin by entering the room where humility is acquired.... For that is the way to make progress.” But she adds a caveat: “we shall never succeed in knowing ourselves unless we seek to know God: let us think of His greatness and then come back to our own baseness; by looking at His purity we shall see our foulness; by meditating upon His humility, we shall see how far we are from being humble.”What a good new year’s resolution it would be to take practical steps to grow in humility by keeping our eyes on Christ. Suppose every day, one meditated, even for only one minute, on the Face of Jesus. One of my resolutions is this: whenever I have an uncharitable thought toward someone, I immediately imagine the Face of Christ and say a Hail Mary for that person. It has already helped me to control my unruly passions toward several difficult individuals in my life. And I hope to be faithful to this commitment all year. May 2020 bring us all to see ourselves clearly, the best 20/20 vision anyone can have!
I am writing as president of the Catholic Media Coalition and also as a member of your flock to beg you to respond to the call of many clerics and laity (including four exorcists) asking for reparation for the sin of idolatry at the Vatican during the Amazon Synod. Please, Your Excellency, offer a Mass of reparation at the diocesan cathedral and announce it in the Catholic Herald. Please ask every priest in the diocese and every deanery to offer Masses of reparation as well. The exorcists recommended December 6th, First Friday, as a particular day of atonement. What a blessing if every parish in the diocese offered a Mass of reparation that day with the prayers recommended by the exorcists which are available at LifeSiteNews: Exorcists call for day of reparation after Pachamama rituals
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that, during the synod and its aftermath, the readings at Mass focused on the abominations that occurred during the reign of Antiochus IV. We are living that time again. We saw the Pachamama fertility goddess venerated and worshiped on the very ground where Catholic martyrs lie. What a desecration! We saw groups of synod participants bow down to the idols in front of the tabernacle. What an insult to Jesus! We saw Pachamama, “Mother Earth” in a bowl, placed on the very altar during the synod closing Mass, a sacrilege and blasphemy. Your Excellency, we must make reparation!
I also beg you to enthrone Our Lady of America in the cathedral. Her request to be enthroned at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception by the bishops is yet unfulfilled, but every bishop in the country could prepare for that by giving her honor in his own diocesan cathedral. Our lustful age desperately needs her call for purity. She warned us through Sr. Mary Ephrem that:
The hour is very late. It is our shepherds like you, Your Excellency, who have the power to call the flock to listen to Mary’s call of repentance and answer with a resounding “Yes!” to her questions:
Please, Your Excellency, we need your leadership. I will be offering my daily Mass and rosary for you and will be making a daily act of penance for your intentions.
Sincerely in Christ Jesus,
Mary Ann Kreitzer, President, Catholic Media Coalition