A little excerpt from my retreat packet which illuminated my mind yesterday:
"Reform of Life: Deepening your examination of conscience, look at the recurring sins in your life. Which kind of pride is at the root?
Selfishness (valuing yourself most?)
Vanity (valuing others' opinions most?)
Sensuality (valuing comforts most?)
Ask Christ for humility to apply the opposite virtue:
Charity (serving others first)
Fidelity (valuing Christ's love foremost)
Discipline (accepting your crosses)"
From "How to pray a Holy Hour", Faith & Family Magazine
I had a "falling off my horse" St. Paul moment when I read this yesterday. I thought I was completely immune to vanity since I own one tube of lipstick that has so far lasted me five years. I had no idea that the sin of vanity isn't limited to endless mirror primping, it's caring about other people's opinions more than Christ's love. Man does that sin acts as a cancer in my soul.
The same for "sensuality". I thought that meant craving expensive massages and rose petals baths. But instead that sin "craving comforts most." So that is why the torn IKEA couch cover drives me crazy everyday! I like my treats. I like madelines with my tea, and pretty church shoes for my kids, and new DVDs from Redbox on Wednesday nights. If the opposite virtue is "discipline" how little of that do I possess? I feel every pea under my mattress and complain loudly about it during my time as a Princess in the Lord's Kingdom.
During our St. Patrick's Mass yesterday, I said contrition for my toxic cancer of people pleasing vanity sins and my "must have my creature comforts" sensuality sins. Then I asked for the Lord to bring me "fidelity" for my communion intention.
A few hours later I was late dropping Hannah off to her religion class. "What must her teachers think of me?" I cringed as I looked at the clock as Hannah skipped out of the car. "Oh, I can't think that way anymore" I told myself.
I drove home elated. I'm looking at regaining hours of free time after fully ridding myself of the vanity curse. Worrying about what other people think, worrying about making people mad, worrying about doing something "wrong." Those thoughts have taken up hours of my life. They make me feel crazy. They make me depressed. Now it's about pleasing one guy, who also happens to be Truth Itself and Eternally Consistent.
What joyful, pleasant work!