Last week, I peeked into the epicenter of hedonism as it advances. I was working in the kitchen while watching the news. I kept the TV on when Entertainment Tonight followed. I’ll skip the Bruce Jenner sex change hoopla and get straight to story that made me shudder. (Nowadays, it takes a lot.)
Famous person Kim Kardashian was interviewed on her upcoming book Selfish. It is over 300 pictures documenting decades of her selfies beginning at age 4 with an Instamatic camera. Think lifetime contributions, i.e.: Mother Teresa picking up dying people vs. Kim taking thousands upon thousands of pictures of herself. Get the picture? The big one, not the selfies.
I checked the Internet for Selfish buzz and you would think Kim was poised to win a Nobel Prize. On-line advanced copies sold out in one minute. I would have predicted no one would buy such a foolish book. I am out of touch. Selfishness has gone from repugnant to acceptable to extolled. I was still wrapping my mind around acceptable.
As I watched the interview, Kim was complimented on the perfect angles of herself. But she had a confession to make. Not all her photos are perfect. She admitted that it typically takes 500 shots to come up with one good enough to use. Shudder! Put some math to that statement and that’s a lot of time spent not for the benefit of mankind. While Isis is beheading Christians and humanity around the world needs every measure of help, someone can publish a book full of pictures of herself. And people buy it.
Since Kim has already cornered the market on selfies, what do you want to be remembered for? During his radio show “Christ is the Answer,” Fr. John Riccardo said it was a question someone once asked him. How would you answer that question? What do you want your legacy to be?
Fr. Riccardo rejected the question. “I don’t want to be remembered for anything,” he said. Then, he asked how many people even know the maiden name of their great grandmothers? Most of us are simply not remembered at all, he pointed out. Instead, Fr. Riccardo said he wants Jesus to be remembered. “Jesus is the one that matters; not me,” he said. Living to bring Jesus to others so that it is Jesus and not he that is remembered, makes a life worthwhile according to him.
Holiness of Forgetfulness
Several years ago during a retreat, Msgr. Chad Gion presented pride as not just thinking you are better than others, but the preoccupation with self. “Humility only comes in self-forgetting, when I am not at the center,” he explained. “Christ lowered himself for us because love requires self-emptying. His death is the model of humility because he did not do it for himself. Christ did not die in our place to show us how great he was but he did it to show us how great his love was for us and through it, he did show us his greatness.”
Msgr. Gion described humility as elusive, as something that can only be achieved by abandoning it. “If we focus on it, praying: ‘Lord make me a humble man’ and then we serve others all the while looking inward, the more we focus on it the less likely we are achieving it. Inward concern about my humility contradicts the entire process.” He explained that in the end, “Doing everything you can to make yourself humble, makes it all about you.”
So even lowering yourself by saying, “Oh, I’m not so great,” or “they are better than me,” is still self-focused. Holy forgetfulness is when we think about others; serving them out of love rather than doing it for ourselves.
So put the camera down and pick someone up. For Jesus and for them. And don’t forget to pray for those who don’t understand. Otherwise, we become self-righteous. We are not better, we just have been blessed with the understanding that it’s not about us. And nowadays, that’s not an easy conclusion to arrive at.