I am reading an old, but still valid book by Rudof Allers, in which the Psychology of Character is examined. As Europe slides into a recession, as I am also multi-tasking and watching Bloomberg and the Greek man-made crisis, I realize that those with character will rise above these hard times and will need to help those who have not, either by nurture or nature, had good character formation.
Much of Allers is dated, but some of his ideas are timeless. A few points in a few posts are worth making.
The first point, which is most timely today, is that each person must have real and not false ideals of themselves and the world around them. The narcissist cannot exist in the real world, for example, and tries to create his world and let people like him into this bubble world. If he is in power, and has even great power, this world can become an empire. Have not we see this in history?
Allers specifically refers to those who limit his or her own ideals and live less than the expectations which God or life would demand of the person. So, for example, I meet young men, ages 20-35, daily who refuse either to answer a religious or priestly vocation, or choose marriage. The single life is not a vocation, rarely, unless one is taking care of aged parents, for example, or some accident of nature. That some do not choose life, Allers notes, referring to the parable of the talents, is merely a tragedy. I like this quotation from him, "In reality life is an adventure, and must be so lived and endured. "Be ready, that is everything." This reminds me of Hamlet's famous line, "The readiness is all", a phrase I had on the blog in January for a month or so.
Our potentialities are not surface values, states Allers, and he merges, psychologically, to the pursuit of perfection, about which I have been writing here from the classic authors, the interior values and gifts given to us by God as needing fulfillment.
The pursuit of perfection, states Allers, is not for our personal growth, like the 1980s New Age pursuits of a spiritual life without any responsibilities. Allers states our potentialities are not only unlimited, but can be full of grace, grace which makes us cooperate with all those gifts given to us and the Church in order to live as we were created to be. Grace is a key here, and we Catholics live in grace.
How cool is this, I think, to realize that the psychologist and theology overlap, and why not?
Allers knows his scholastic philosophy as well. "The transformation of potentiality into act, to employ the terminology of scholasticism, is the essence and meaning of human life." He also states, that since the Fall of Adam (sorry, but not really, to some of my readers who do not believe in Adam, which is the teaching of the Catholic Church-one set of parents-but I digress) that an individual life is "nothing more than the successive realization all values inherent as potentialities." Hard work, like the banking ads behind my computer here, means securities and success. But, we are thinking in terms of character building and eternal life.
And, for this posting, here is the crunch--when we have realized those ideals, we die, unless we die too soon. God intends us to go into heaven directly, to be saints.
Allers notes, "When a man has ceaselessly realized all that there was of value-potentialities in the depths of his being, his life must come to a standstill: he must die. That is, I think, why so many saints die young. If we consider the life of a St. Aloysius Gonzaga, a St. John Berchmans, a St. Theresa of the Child Jesus...do we not get the strong impression that for these people there was nothing left over for them to do on earth, that they had realized everything that it had been in any way possible for them to realize?"
Suffering, Allers notes, was part of the fulfillment of their potentialities, pain and sickness being that which they had to accomplish. Here is a quotation, "In German common parlance, one says of such people that they were fruh vollendet, "completed early".
Have we, even the middle-aged, completed what we were created to be and to do? Do we care? Are we healthy, mentally, and inspired enough to say "yes" to what realization God has called us to be and do? Are we merely able to go into retirement, a false concept in my mind, and let the world slid by without involvement, without using the talents, the loaves, the fishes? Can we ever say that we have done or are enough?
|thanks to Wiki|
For B., N., G. et al who have yet to make a decision in life for life, for God, for the world.
To be continued....