When I struggle or become frustrated with my prayer life, I know it is often because I’ve become self-absorbed and preoccupied with my own worries, failings, or grievances. It is a cycle that is difficult to break out of, because what, when we are self-absorbed, breaks us open and reminds us that there is a world full of “objective beauties” greater than us?
Bishop Robert Barron uses these words “objective beauties” when he talks about Iris Murdoch in his video below. Iris Murdoch was a novelist and philosopher and, as Bishop Barron explains, she recognized human nature’s tendencies towards self-absorption and self-interest. She saw that it was hard for us to break out of ourselves to see the good of the world that is beyond us- and by extension, God.
She had several interesting remedies for this struggle, two of which Bishop Barron unpacks using his own anecdotes and examples:
- Grappling with another language
- Confrontation with real art
These things “break us out of our little world of self-regard”. We spend so much time trying to pull things around us into our own little world in an effort to remain both simulations open and comfortable. Bishop Barron disagrees with this and says,
“You should be cracked open by the hard rock of these objective beauties so that you can be drawn into them.”
In that way, he links this attitude to something that can be applied to remedy a prayer life that suffers from too much self-regard. Watch the video to learn how, and to discover “the sheer power and objectivity of the Divine Good that breaks through… self regard, that breaks [us] into a higher world,” that allows us to utter “an authentic prayer, a prayer of real spiritual power.”
Questions for Reflection
What do you think about Bishop Barron and Iris Murdoch’s approach to self-absorption?
What has been your best remedy when you get pulled down into self-interest and preoccupation with your own worries?
What can you do to pro-actively and creatively leave self-interest behind?
Let us know in the comments below!