Sunday, March 07, 2010


Nothing so feeds self-conceit as believing that you are completely devoted to others and never self-seeking, that you are quite free from self-love and always generously devoted to your neighbors.

But all this devotion that seems to be for others is really for yourself. Your self-love reaches the point of perpetual self-congratulation in the mistaken belief that you are free from self-love itself. All your anxiety is fear that you might not be fully satisfied with yourself, and this is the root of your scruples.

If you thought of nothing but God and his glory, you would be as keen and sensitive to the losses of others as to your own. but it is the self that makes you so keen and sensitive. You want God as well as other people to be always satisfied with you, and you want to be satisfied with yourself in all your dealings with God.

You are not used to being content with a simple good will. Your self-love wants a lively feeling, a reassuring pleasure, some kind of charm or excitement. You are guided too much by imagination, and you suppose that your mind and will are inactive unless you are conscious of their workings. So you depend on a kind of excitement similar to that which the passions or the theater arouse.

Because of your excessive refinement, you fall into the opposite extreme -- a real coarseness of imagination. Nothing is more opposed to the life of faith and to true wisdom.

There is no more dangerous opening to delusion than the false ways by which people try to avoid delusion. It is imagination that leads us astray. The certainty we seek through imagination, feeling, and taste is one of the most dangerous sources from which fanaticism springs.

This is the chasm of vanity and corruption that God would have us discover in our own heart: we must look on it with the calm and simplicity that belong to true humility. It is self-love that makes us so inconsolable at seeing our own imperfections. To stand face to face with them, however, not flattering or tolerating them, seeking to correct ourselves without becoming peevish--this is to desire what is good for its own sake and for God's sake, rather than merely reating it as a self-satisfying decoration.

So turn against this useles search of yours for the self-satisfaction you find in doing right.

~Archbishop of Cambrai, Francois Fenelon, The Royal Way of the Cross