Hello, my name is Br. James Martin, and I am a narcissist. No, I don't have just any form of narcissism. I happen to suffer from spiritual narcissism. For example, last week I went on retreat with a great Dominican preacher, Fr. John Farrell, 0.P., of Oxford, England. After my first day on retreat I noticed myself getting very angry at Fr. John. So, I did a little self-check, and I found the source of my irritation. All day Fr. John would talk about what Jesus did or say, and I was getting angry at him because Fr. John was not talking about me! So often I think you and I fall into the same trap of spiritual narcissism. We come to church or we go to prayer because we want to hear something about us or we want to know what do. We may want father to say something that will impact our lives in his homily or give us some insight in the confessional. While these needs are not bad, if this is the totality of why you or I come to church, then we are missing the greatest part of being catholic, growing in charity.
To grow in our capacity for charity, we need two things, God's grace and a holy longing for communion. First and foremost, charity is a theological virtue, and Uncle Tom (St. Thomas Aquinas) sees theological virtues as directed towards God, infused in us by God, and - just in case we forget - written by God. Secondly, if you and I really want to rid ourselves of spiritual narcissism, we need to pray for and long for a communion with each other within the Holy Trinity. Visiting a homeless shelter in May 2013, Pope Francis said, "For us Christians, love of neighbor springs from love of God; and it is its most limpid expression." We can never hope to be in God if we are not first with our neighbor.
-br. James Martin Nobles, O.P.