8th January

Be True to Yourself

Your God is faithful and true.
Deuteronomy 32: 4

To your own self be true.
Shakespeare

We are meant to be faithful and true, just as God is. However, since we all want and need to be affirmed, but many of us are not, we instinctively seek illicit affirmation, by tailoring our actions in order to gain the approval of others. In a subtle way, this means that we are no longer being true to ourselves. We perhaps unconsciously say to ourselves ‘If I behave in this or that way I will not get appreciation’.

Once Columba came on a visit to the brothers on Hinba Island, and felt they needed to learn to enjoy life, to loosen up and relax their strict diet for a while; and this relaxation included people who were doing penance for some past sin. One of these, Nemen, declined to relax his diet, appearing to be most pious. Columba, however, realised that he was not really being true to himself. He predicted that, because of this, the time would come when Nemen would be back with a gang of thieves in a forest and would eat a horse that had been stolen. Later Nemen was found out to be doing just that.

How can we cure this disease of the soul? Here is an original prescription from the desert:

Abba Macarios told a monk to go to a cemetery and shout his anger at the dead. This he did. Then Macarios told the monk to go there again and this time to praise the dead. He did this, too.

Neither time, of course, did they react. The point was: Why let those who are dead to God prevent you from being true to yourself?
Help me to be
True to myself
True to you
True to others
True to the call
True to all
True to heaven.

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