Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Thinking and Reflecting

This morning I read an article in the New York times which resonated with me. The writer's literal "bottom line" was that we do not think enough.

In the play, The Man for All Seasons, about St. Sir Thomas More, Lord Cromwell tells Sir Richard Rich, "You haven't thought enough!" Cromwell as well as The Times' David Brooks both were pin pointing mental laziness. Brooks calls it a "metacognition deficit." Brooks may have been referring to celebrities and politicians whose selective memories force them to make public statements about pronouncements they had made which were false and/or faulty.

In every Catholic spiritual tradition there is time set aside daily for an examination of conscience. Some call it a "verification" of the day. St. Ignatius, founder of the Jesuits, called it a consciousness exam. Actually rewinding the video tape of our previous 24 hours, and pausing at our own behavioral mishaps, helps to prevent metacognition deficit and mental laziness.

Ignatius recommends beginning this daily examen with a prayer for enlightenment. Then he tells us to thank God for the many graces which God gave us since the last examen. Then we are invited to look and see how we responded to the graces, or if we just ignored them, or, if we even acted contrary to what our good judgment told us.

If we discover lapses, mistakes, and sins, then we tell God how we are sorry. Then we resolve to do better tomorrow, or from now on. Then we pray again to be more Christ-like.

St. Paul told his readers, including us, to "put on the mind of Christ."

I consider this advice to mean that I use a new set of lens to see the world, and especially my own particular circumstances. These lens are the criteria of Christ. In Philippians Chapter 4, Paul spells about his view of Christian criteria:

"Whatever is true,
whatever is honorable,
whatever is just,
whatever is pure,
whatever is commendable,
whatever is pleasing,
if there is any excellence and
if there is anything worthy of praise,
think about these things. "(Philippians 4:8)

Today I think of two good persons who died in this week: Brother James Mann, a Brother of the Society of St. Paul, and Sister Maria Rosa Ballini of the Daughters of St. Paul. Both gave their lives to God in the Pauline family, and both spent all their energies for God.

Brother James died in Ohio of pancreatic cancer. Sister Maria Rosa died at our clinic in Albano, Italy, about an hour's drive from Rome. Brother James worked in the CD and DVD duplicating department of the Society of St. Paul in Canfield, Ohio. He was also active in keeping the extensive grounds very well groomed. Brother James was known for his serene smile. Sister Maria Rosa too was one who smiled often. She spent many years in Africa, especially in Nairobi. However, like our Patron, St. Paul, she often ventured to many parts of Africa to bring the Word of God to people who were not able to "come and get it" at one of our book centers. She arranged "Bible Days" where easy to purchase Bibles were made available to the people. Sister herself would speak to the people and explain the Bible with clarity and enthusiasm. Like a farmer who sowed the seed, she "sowed" the seed of the Word of God in Ethiopia, Swaziland, Namibia, Kenya, Tanzania and several other African nations. May these Paulines, Brother James and Sister Maria Rosa, reap an eternal reward for their years of service and loving fidelity.

Check out news and activites of the Pauline Family on http://www.stpaulstube.com/.

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