Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of July 26, 2004
Three personalities in one person
By FR. RON ROLHEISER, omi
If saints struggle in this way, what about the rest of us?
Like Catherine Doherty, all of us have multiple persons inside us. Inside each of us there's someone who has faith, who wants to live the Beatitudes, and who wants to be attuned to truths and realities of the Gospels. Inside each of us, there's a martyr who wants to die for others, a "Mother Teresa" who wants to radically serve the poor, and a moral artist who wants to carry his or her solitude at a high level. But inside each of us there is also someone who wants to taste life and all its pleasures here and now. Beyond that, inside each of us there is also a little girl or little boy, innocent, daydreaming, watching the clouds on some hillside, not particularly enamoured of either the saint or the sinner inside us.
Who's the real person? They all are. We're all of these: saint and pleasure-seeker, altruist and egoist, martyr and hedonist, person-of-faith and agnostic, moral-artist and compensating libertine, innocent child and jaded adult, and the task of life is not to crucify one for the other, but to have them make peace with each other.
Peace, as we know, means more than the simple absence of war. It's a positive quality. What makes for peace? Two things: harmony and completeness.
A musical melody is peaceful when all the different notes are strung together so as to make a harmony, a melody. Part of peace is to not have discord. But there's another part: To play a melody, you also need a full keyboard. Peace also depends upon having enough keys at your disposal to play all the notes that the musical scores demands. A keyboard with a wide, wide range of possibilities is not a bad thing.
That's true too of human nature. Our complexity is not our enemy but our friend. All those pathological opposites inside us are precisely what make up our keyboard. It's precisely because we're both sinner and saint, hedonist and martyr, adult and child, that we have enough keys to play the various musical scores that life hands us.
The secret, of course, is harmony, melody. We need to move beyond a random, undisciplined stabbing at the keyboard because that produces discord. Peace comes when we put all the complex pieces inside of us together in such an order so as to make a beautiful melody.
And, of course, the more varied the notes, the more complex the musical score, the richer the final melody.
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