Gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.
~ GK Chesterton

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Outrage Addicted?

Here is an article that has been haunting me.

Outrage Addiction: Its harm on the spiritual life and on the mission of the Church

I am guilty, guilty, guilty of getting very caught up in current events.  When crises hit, I can get a little addicted to checking the latest news headlines.  There's a lot of outrage to be found in the events of the day.  The problem I have is that I tend to slip into despair needlessly.

Happily, remedies are provided in the article.  Prayer as a remedy is already practiced by the wise; one that the Catholic outrage-addicted know about, but still have to work a bit before it is their default setting.
Their relationship with God suffers as the outrage becomes an idol unto itself.  The outrage-addicted seem to believe that the power of outrage is greater than the power of God to move hearts and souls.  One clue is when more time is spent reading and discussing things to be outraged over than there is invested in prayer over those things, and for the people involved in them.  A cloistered monk or nun does more to move hearts of stone through their sacrifices and intercessions without being aware of anything to be outraged over. 
Yes.  I have been guilty of fuming over injustice when I could be praying over it.  I agree that the cloistered religious are choosing the better part, even without being aware of the issues at hand that cause the outrage.  I have faith that prayer is efficacious, when offering up general terms for those struggling with difficulties, even without having each detail as it is reported by the 24/7 news cycle.

Now, I don't believe that noticing the injustice of this world is bad, in and of itself.  But when knowledge fuels despair, a different approach is needed.  Sure, scan the news headlines of the day . . .  but then do something positive about the bad things in the world by offering a spiritual approach.  Interestingly, even voices in the secular world call for re-evaluating our approach to current events as this approach pertains to our general well-being: see Dr. Weil's recommended news fasts.

Let us look at the Carmelite approach, shall we?

St. Teresa of Avila, the antidote to outrage addiction:
Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing away:
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things
Whoever has God lacks nothing;
God alone suffices.
St. John of the Cross:
"For the afflictions and disturbances engendered in a soul through adversities are no help in remedying these adversities; rather, distress and worry ordinarily make things worse and even do harm to the soul itself.  Thus David proclaimed: 'Indeed every human being is disturbed in vain. [Ps. 39:6]"
Ascent of Mt. Carmel, Ch. 3

"Clearly, it is always vain to be disturbed, since being disturbed is never any help.  Thus if the whole world were to crumble and come to an end and all things were to go wrong, it would be useless to get disturbed, for this would do more harm than good."
Ascent of Mt. Carmel, Ch. 3

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