Elliott Abrams, the U.S. Special Representative for Iran and Venezuela, pointed out during a hearing at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that ‘The U.S. is committed to holding accountable those who deny freedom and justice to people of Iran and
Editor’s note: Monsignor Pope takes up the topic of humility in prayer as St. Teresa of Avila presents it in her treatise The Way of Perfection:
In setting forth her teaching, I have substantially reworked the order of her reflections. St. Teresa was able to see the “whole rose” of the topic, jumping from petal to petal without effort. I, being of a vastly inferior intellect and of far less purity of soul, must look to the individual petals in a certain order to understand.
Following is my presentation of her teaching as best I am able. In effect, St. Teresa summons us to trust in the Lord’s answer to our prayers rather than insisting on our own preferred outcomes and worldly measures of success.
Let’s look at her teaching in five stages. St. Teresa’s teaching is presented in italics while my remarks are shown in plain red text. The passages below are taken from the book The Way of Perfection by Saint Teresa of Avila, virgin (Obras de la gloriosa madre Sta Teresa de Jesus, Tomo 1, Madrid, 1752: 30:1-4 pp. 526-528).
The Prayer Plan –Therefore, the good Jesus bids us repeat these words, this prayer for his kingdom to come in us: Hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. See how wise our Master is! Our good Jesus placed these two petitions side by side … But what do we mean when we pray for this kingdom? … It seems to me that this point deserves serious attention.
Many conceive of prayer as a time to tell God what we need. Intercessory prayer surely has its place, but it ought not to dominate. As St. Teresa reminds us and the Our Father teaches, we ought to acknowledge more consistently the holiness and wisdom of God and seek His kingdom and will in our lives.
Hence, prayer is seeking God’s will, not announcing our own. We all have our preferences in life. We would rather be healthy than ill, financially well off than destitute, in peace than at war. Our ultimate goal, though, is to trust that what God wills or allows is what is best.
Is God holy for us, or is he just a butler who should fetch what we want? Do we love the God of all consolation or merely the consolations of God? To pray, then, is to disclose our heart and seek to conform it to the Kingdom and to the will of God.
The Perfect Picture – O Eternal Wisdom, between you and your Father that was enough; that was how you prayed in the garden. You expressed your desire and fear but surrendered yourself to his will.
St. Teresa points to Jesus Himself as the perfect picture. His human preference is for the cup of suffering to be taken away, but His deepest desire is to be conformed to His Father’s will:
And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will” (Matt 26:39).
We are saved by the human decision of a divine person. To be freed from suffering is appealing to Jesus, but not so appealing as to cause Him to violate His Father’s will. Nothing could do that.
Jesus is the ideal picture of prayer. His heart is perfectly united to the Father and His lesser human desire to avoid suffering is subjugated to His ultimate desire: to do whatever the Father wants. It is for us to journey toward this perfect picture. As we grow in the grace and love of God, we increasingly want what He wants, even if it is challenging, even if it leads us to martyrdom.
The Persistent Problem –But as for us, my Lord, you know that we are less submissive to the will of your Father …. You see, the gift our Lord intends for us may be by far the best, but if it is not what we wanted we are quite capable of flinging it back in his face. That is the kind of people we are; ready cash is the only wealth we understand.
Nothing plainer or more accurate could be said. It is normal to have certain preferred outcomes in life and in general it is not wrong to petition God for these things, but we are often very particular about what we want and so quick to become crestfallen and resentful if we do not get what we want, when we want it, and in just the manner. In addition, our desires are too easily worldly and vain.
So often our Lord must repeat what He said to James and John: “You do not know what you are asking” (Mt 20:22). St. Paul also reminds us, For we do not know how we ought to pray, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans too deep for words. (Rom 8:26).
Thus, we must ask humbly, realizing that God knows what is best. He sees a more complete picture and understands that simply giving us what we want often leads to troublesome results. Despite our momentary disappointments, we often come to realize that some of God’s greatest gifts have been the times when he said no or gave us something other than what we sought. It is interesting, for example, that no matter how many times God warns about wealth in the Scriptures, most of us still want to be wealthy. Our desires can be obtuse and close us in on worldly and fleshly things.
Recall the words of Jesus to the crowds who wanted another free meal after He multiplied the loaves and fishes: Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you (Jn 6:27). Jesus was speaking of the Eucharist, His very self, but they just wanted ordinary bread. They were behaving like the ancient Jews, who tired of the miraculous manna, calling it wretched (Num 21:5), and pining for the melons and leeks of their slave years in Egypt (Num 11:5).
Yes, indeed, all we understand is “ready cash,” as St Teresa observes. How we must wear God out!
The Particular Petition – My Lord, could you not have included all in one word by saying “Father, give us whatever is good for us?” After all, to one who understands everything so perfectly, what need is there to say more?
For our prayer to grow, and our desires to be purified, a simple and filial trust of the Father is the key:
Whatever you want, O Heavenly Father, I want it too. I know it will be best. Even if my first emotional response is less than happy, I know that my truest happiness will be in whatever you will for me.
While the Lord Jesus directs us to present our needs to Him and to persevere in our prayers, it does not follow that we should give God detailed instructions. Doing so would be controlling, not trusting. It is enough to say, “Here are my needs, my concerns. I know that you will do whatever is best. Whatever you want, Lord, I will be fine knowing that you have heard and answered in your own way.
Indeed, there is no safer or better place in the world than inside the will of God. St. Teresa reminds us that humility in prayer comes finally to this: “Father give us whatever is good for us.”
Of course, whatever is good for us is that which will best lead us to Heaven. Hence, St. Teresa concludes with a vision that should always be before us.
The Palliative Perception – Of the many joys that are found in the kingdom of heaven, the greatest seems to me to be the sense of tranquility and well-being that we shall experience when we are free from all concern for earthly things …. Loving him is the soul’s one concern. Indeed it cannot help but love him, for it knows him. Here below our love must necessarily fall short of that perfection and constancy, but even so how different it would be, how much more like that of heaven, if we really knew our Lord!
I use the word palliative here to mean healing. We must look to Heaven to see our prayers and desires healed. There is an old saying, “The end is the beginning.” If we know our destination, then every other decision we make is directed toward that destination.
For example, if I am driving from Washington, D.C. to New York City, I can freely disregard signs for roads that lead south or west, knowing that they will not help me to get there. Even if I have to wait in heavy traffic, drive through heavy storms, or pay tolls, I am not overwhelmed because I know that every mile north and east gets me closer.
In our spiritual journey, we must meditate often on our destiny. Our goal is to be with the Lord forever. Our destination is Heaven, that beautiful place beyond description or imagination, where we are at peace in the presence of our God, lost in wonder and awe, and caught up into the great trinitarian dance of love. Looking into the beautiful face of God for which our soul yearns, all our lesser and often petty desires of this world will be gone.
As St. Teresa notes, however, all this doesn’t have to wait for Heaven. Even here in this world, as we grow to know the Lord more deeply our desires become purer and our prayer more humble. Increasingly, we come to be able to say what St. Thomas Aquinas did when asked by the Lord what he wanted: Nil nisi Te, Domine, nil nisi Te (nothing but You, O Lord, nothing but You). St. Teresa adds her hearty amen
What does it mean to call someone a friend? A friend is a person with whom you share your heart and who shares his heart with you. Friendship builds upon vulnerability, the willingness to open our hearts to those we trust. We confide in friends who will look out for our best interests and respond accordingly. The deeper a friendship goes in willingness, vulnerability, and personal entrustment, the more pronounced its growth. As we spend time with our friends, we pick up each other’s habits — good and bad. As friendship grows, we begin to see ourselves in the other. The places we like to go, the programs we watch, the music we listen to, the games and sports we play, the people we get along with — everything that makes up the time we spend together unites us. Our friend becomes like a mirror in which we see ourselves.
There are friends, and then there is our best friend. Your best friend knows everything about you. They know the good, the bad, and the ugly, and they know when you are feeling good, bad, or ugly. (At least my wife, who is my best friend, does.) They know what makes us tick and what ticks us off. Our best friends are the best reflections we have of ourselves because they contain all the secrets that we would not share with anyone else.
We call Jesus friend because we believe that He wants what is best for us. We confide in Him because we trust Him. But what is “mind numbing” about this call to be friends with Jesus is that He desires to be not just our friend but our best friend, or in the words of my five-year-old, “our bestest friend” (because bestest is better than best).
In the Gospel, Jesus asked His Apostles: “Who do you say that I am?” (Matt. 16:15). Jesus wants to know what His friends think about Him, not for His sake, but for ours. Jesus did not need a self-esteem boost; rather, He was providing an opportunity for the disciples to personalize their relationship with Him. It was then that Peter stepped forward and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matt. 16:16). Just as the disciples were invited to identify who Christ was in their lives, so are we. Fundamentally, as Christians, we must ask the question: Who is Jesus to me? Do I call Him friend?
As we pray our devotions, receive Christ in the sacramental life, read Scripture fervently, study the lives of the saints, and serve the poor, the depth of our friendship with Christ will grow and so will our understandings of who we are as human persons. In studying Christ, we will better understand not only the functional part of what we do but also the more meaningful part of who we are in our relationships with God — that which animates what we do. The more we get to know Him, the more we get to know ourselves. Jesus is not just any friend, but the One Friend who reveals to us how to be a better human being, the best friend we could ever hope for.
We must pay attention to Christ’s “revealing” Himself to us, both in divine revelation and in the more informal revelation we find in our everyday conversation with Him. This “paying attention” happens in proximity and silence.
‘Some countries in our region did not exist yesterday, and they may not exist in the future….’ — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, addressing parliament on October 1, 2020. ‘His [Erdogan’s] crimes against the Arab peoples must be exposed, such as
Your supervisor knows that you’ve got a lot on your hands between working and taking care of your kids, so they take a task off your plate. You notice that your normally energetic coworker seemed quiet and withdrawn during a meeting, so you reach out and schedule some time to chat.
Empathy is the common thread between these two scenarios.
During the recent GovLoop online training “Empathy in the Workplace,” Managing Editor Nicole Blake Johnson and Senior Digital Marketing Manager Leah Anderson discussed with moderator Emily Jarvis the importance of empathy, what it means to them and how one can practice it in the workplace.
For Johnson, the word “heart” was the key to talking about empathy.
“Empathy is a heart issue that causes you to ask yourself: do I care about people on a human level?” she said.
For Anderson, empathy is all about understanding – the ability to understand the emotions of other people, and to understand what’s affecting someone on a day to day basis.
But empathy is about more than just other people and how you relate to them. It’s also about how you relate to yourself.
“You have to stop and look within,” said Johnson. We often think of empathy as something we do unto others, but we need to have empathy for ourselves before we can apply it in social settings.
It’s also not just acknowledging people caring about them, said Johnson. Empathy drives you to take action. It’s not just noticing that someone is struggling but considering the ways in which you could help them.
As Anderson said, you can be empathetic even when giving critical feedback. You start by considering what your motive for giving feedback is, and then you present it in a constructive way and offer avenues for changing a behavior or improving a situation.
Empathy can also be important for interacting with coworkers who you normally have a difficult time getting along with. Anderson was careful to point out that you can be empathetic towards negative people, and that by understanding the social, environmental and personal factors that are impacting their attitude, you can change your relationship with them.
Empathy is obviously a great thing, but it is not always easy, and this is true on both ends of any interaction.
If you are initiating a conversation, you have to understand that you are asking the other person to trust you with their stories and experiences, said Johnson. To set yourself up for success, you also have to approach any interaction by assuming the best, added Anderson.
The final application of empathy in the workplace that was discussed can be a tricky one. Empathy is an integral and irreplaceable part of any discussion or action around sensitivity and inclusion, but this can often be a time when people feel uncomfortable leaving their own minds to occupy the shoes of another.
Anderson had some advice regarding this, which was that while one wants to be a perfect ally immediately, the reality is that effective allyship is a process where one learns along the way. It is also, as she pointed out, not a self-centered process, but rather one where the increased comfort, safety and well-being of others is the goal.
And as Johnson said, “it’s better to have the conversation than sit in silence.”
This is also true of the conversations we must have with ourselves, where we acknowledge our unconscious biases, reject preconceived notions about our coworkers and their experiences, skills and personalities, and resolve to take action.
The good news, Anderson noted, is that empathy is a skill that one can practice and improve over time.
And it’s a skill that’s vitally important to practice because as Johnson put it, ultimately, “the workplace is about people—it’s not just pushing papers around.”
Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden at the reviewing stand to watch President Barrack Obama’s Inaugural Parade from in front of the White House in Washington on Jan. 20, 2009. (Alex Wong/Getty Images) Joe Biden
The New York Post’s opinion editor said the publication has been “very transparent” with how it handled a hard drive that allegedly belonged to Joe Biden’s son Hunter and contained purported emails that point to deals with Ukrainian and Chinese officials. He calls on readers to “judge it for yourself without letting the narrative be shaped for you before you’ve had a chance to read it.”
“We were very transparent about what we knew and what we didn’t know. And we reported it out very meticulously. And then, [in the] morning we published it,” said Sohrab Ahmari, the editor, in an interview with Epoch Times on Friday.
After the story was published earlier this week, it quickly went viral on various social media websites. However, it was later found that Twitter blocked sharing the article and added warning labels, while a Facebook executive, Andy Stone, said the platform would limit the spread of the article and allow its third-party fact-checkers to evaluate the contents. Some users who shared the link were locked out of their Twitter accounts, including New York Post itself and White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany.
As of Friday, it “seems like Twitter unlocked at least the initial Ukraine story. So now you can share it and your viewers can find it anywhere,” he added. “You can find it on our website NYPost.com, they can see for themselves, both the kind of depth and quality of the reporting.”
The move drew several comments from Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey himself, who first said on Wednesday night that communication around the blocking of the article was poor.
Later, Dorsey admitted that “straight blocking of URLs was wrong, and we updated our policy and enforcement to fix.” He added: “Our goal is to attempt to add context, and now we have capabilities to do that.”
Twitter initially claimed the NY Post article violated its policies on “personal and private information” and violations of its Hacked Materials Policy. “Commentary on or discussion about hacked materials, such as articles that cover them but do not include or link to the materials themselves, aren’t a violation of this policy. Our policy only covers links to or images of hacked material themselves,” Twitter stated.
But for Ahmari, the damage appears to have been done.
The move from Twitter and Facebook, which announced it had limited the reach of the NY Post’s initial story, “just goes to show how much unaccountable power these tech monopolies wield, where our freedom speech today lives or dies on these platforms,” he remarked. “And, you know … if freedom speech is real, and it matters, it has to be real on these platforms, and yet, it’s hostage to the whims of Silicon Valley billionaires, it seems.”
Joe Biden’s presidential campaign refuted the NY Post’s report, saying Joe Biden met with an executive at Ukrainian gas firm Burisma Holdings.
“Investigations by the press, during impeachment, and even by two Republican-led Senate committees whose work was decried as ‘not legitimate’ and political by a GOP colleague have all reached the same conclusion: that Joe Biden carried out official U.S. policy toward Ukraine and engaged in no wrongdoing. Trump Administration officials have attested to these facts under oath,” the Biden campaign spokesman Andrew Bates said in a statement to news outlets on Wednesday.