Spiritual Baggage: On finding the line between self-esteem and self-promotion.

And Mary said: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord.” ~ Lk 1:46

There are few funnier exemplars of a soul that proclaims its own greatness than The Pink Panther’s Inspector Jacques Clouseau, whose high self-regard is matched (if not exceeded) only by his bumbling ineptitude. No matter how many pianos he destroys, stairs he falls down, or colleagues he shoots, he maintains an air of unruffled superiority.

Advertisement

While we may not embody the comic extremes of the fictional French detective, we do slip easily across the line of self-esteem into the realm of self-promotion. At work, in our relationships, in our daily transactions, we find ways to feed our need for validation and praise: maneuvering so that the boss knows how much we contributed to the project or report, dropping the name of a prestigious alma mater or well-connected friend at a cocktail party, even making sure that our faithful churchgoing impresses others.  

RELATED: To subscribe to these Advent reflections, sign up here and check "Digital Content Updates."

In our lives, ’tis a gift to be humble, but not a gift that many of us have. We may, in fact, be so intent on looking at our own magnificent reflection that we fail to focus on the Lord, who is truly worth praising. British mystic Evelyn Underhill wrote, “The human soul cuts rather a ridiculous figure, clutching its own bit of luggage, its private treasures, its position, its personality, its rights, over against the holy self-giving of Absolute Love manifest in the flesh.” When we enter into a time of prayer, we need to forget our small concerns and large egos, and exalt the brilliance and majesty of the mighty one who, as Mary sang, has done great things for us.

RELATED: Read all of our Advent reflections for 2016

Merciful, mighty, saving God, Help me put aside the mirror of self-regard and focus my love and attention completely and wholeheartedly on You. Amen.

For today’s readings, click here.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
Bruce Snowden
1 year ago
Miss Cahill, as Advent ends which will soon happen, any way you can post under a single heading, the short, mighty, prayers following each meditation? They are powerful and everyone of them absolutely on target. Thanks!

Advertisement

Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

Pro-life advocates participate in the annual March for Life in Washington January 2017. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)
Describing abortion as a “key social evil” in the United States, the Jesuits say: “The most fundamental building block of a just social order is respect for human life.”
America StaffJanuary 19, 2018
Men carry a replica of Peru's most revered religious icon, the "Lord of Miracles," during an Oct. 18, 2017 procession in Lima. Each year thousands of Catholics gather to commemorate the image's survival in a 17th-century earthquake that destroyed Lima. (CNS photo/Mariana Bazo, Reuters)
Father Ernesto Cavassa was provincial of the Jesuits in Peru from 1998 to 2004, and president of the Conference of Latin American Jesuit Provincials from 2005 to 2012.
Gerard O’ConnellJanuary 18, 2018
For over 45 years, Feminists for Life has been committed to ending the practice and legality of abortion and promoting the feminism of Susan B. Anthony.
Serrin M. FosterJanuary 18, 2018
A President Donald Trump supporter is see seen at the annual March for Life in Washington Jan. 27. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)
During their tenure in office, President Ronald Reagan, President George H.W. Bush and President George W. Bush all addressed the march via telephone or a radio hookup from the Oval Office.
Catholic News ServiceJanuary 18, 2018