Advice from St. Paul

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I have a large number of bad habits. One of my worst in the ecclesial realm is that I am an absolute addict of Bibles. I have about 40 of them around the house--every translation, configuration, set of notes, theme, print size, and binding you can imagine. They range from the Good News Bible to the Bible my Grandmother gave me when I was six years old (and which I was expected to carry, read, and use -- the King James Version--says a lot doesn't it?) So last night I indulged my Bible addiction yet once again and updated my Laridian Palm Bible with notes from the Life Application Bible and the NIV study bible. Most pocket bibles do not carry Catholic Editions or Catholic Study notes (are you guys from Ignatius paying attention?--a real market here. Get us a palm-study-Bible and you'll have a corner on the highly lucrative seven or eight person Catholic PalmBible market!)

Well, of course, having purchased the Bible aids and loaded up the RSV and KJV I had to start using the new features (highlighting in six different colors and a new note-taking device.) Given that I had to start work IMMEDIATELY, what better place to begin than. . . you guessed it Paul's Letter to the Phillippians.

And here's what occurred to me to share today:

Phillippians 2:3

Do nothing from selfishness or conceit, but in humility count others better than yourselves.

Count others better than myself? You mean I am not to curse and rail and slam on the horn and hit my steering wheel when someone cuts me off clearing my front bumper by no more than two inches? You mean I should hold a door open for the rudest person in the universe who will then rail at me because I think them incapable of opening a door for themselves? Where does this self-effacement end?

If properly conducted and infused by the Holy Spirit, it ends in divine union. We continue to decrease until there is only God steering the vessel. We give no thought for ourselves, but our entire attention is dedicated to and devoted to others. We do nothing from selfishness and conceit (through grace) and all is directed to the betterment and love of others.

The doctrine of St. John of the Cross is not new. It wasn't new when St. John wrote about it. It wasn't new when St. Bonaventure wrote about it. It wasn't all that new when St. Paul wrote about it. (Okay, it was only thirty or forty years old then--but you get the point.)

Nothing St. John has to tell us about truth is new. What is new is how to approach the truth. What he does have to tell us are things that might help us better execute this admonition of Paul.

So, here is Paul's gift to us for the day--the constant exercise of Christian self-abnegation, aided by grace leads inevitably to the throneroom of God. Of course, the assumption is that all of this is surrounded by prayer and completely supported and led by the action of the Holy Spirit. But we must do our minimum--cooperate with His action in our lives.

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Surely somewhere, amongst all your translations and printings, there's a version that reads "nor" instead of "but."


The crux of the matter - daying no t ourselves and yes to God, to anyone else. There lies the rub. No to what I want??? How unthinkable - yet how essential to life in Christ.

count me among those who would appreciate a Catholic bible for the palm.



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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on January 13, 2005 7:53 AM.

Newman on Logic as a Rigorous Master was the previous entry in this blog.

The Purpose of Self-Denial is the next entry in this blog.

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