Superman exposed to kryptonite
SUPERMAN!!! We all know Clark Kent,
the mild-mannered reporter! His double life--- reporter and SUPERMAN! As Superman invincible, Samson-like,
superior to any first-class athlete! However, exposed to one element—the famous
“Kryptonite” would cause his debacle and downfall!
Like Samson who found strength in his
long locks of hair, and Achilles who had to protect and guard over his heel,
SUPERMAN could not be exposed to Kryptonite; otherwise disaster would be his
Spiritual writers insist upon the
necessity of Self-knowledge. A famous aphorism of the desert Fathers were the
two shorts words: KNOW THYSELF!
Historians agree with the same
concept expressing it as such: “He who
does not know history is condemned to repeat the same errors...”
Even the classical Greek philosopher,
Socrates, asserted: “The life that is
not examined is a life not worth living!”
Finally, St. Ignatius of Loyola,
founder of the Jesuits, and author of the Spiritual Exercises, has bequeathed
to the Church and world at large the classical “Rules for discernment”, whose
purpose is as explained by the introductory note for the Rules: “For perceiving and knowing in some manner
the different movements in the soul, the good, to receive them, and the bad to reject
them.”(Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola, # 313).
These Rules for Discernment, the Two
Standards of Christ and Satan, the Daily Examen insist upon the paramount
importance of getting to know oneself, self-knowledge as an indispensable tool
to grow in holiness of life!
This short essay will focus on one of
the fourteen Rules for Discernment, actually the 14th Rule which I
have coined as the “Kryptonite Rule.” First simple analogies will be presented
and then ways to know our kryptonite—our major weak point—and act valiantly so
as not to collapse in the spiritual contest!
ANALOGY FROM SPORTS. In athletic sports, team-members study their
opponents in various ways. One of these studies is to detect the weak point of
a player as well as the totality of the team and to take advantage of this
weakness! At times the knowledge of one weak-point of the team or opponent can
make the difference between victory or defeat!
Pitcher pinpoints the batter's weakness!
BASEBALL. Having played baseball from five years of age
into the University, I can give concrete examples of this. THE PITCHER.
The primary goal of the pitcher is to eliminate the batter. In what
ways? The pitcher will utilize all of
his ingenuity and skill to get the batter to Pop-out, ground-out, Fly-out, and
best yet to STRIKE OUT! Today
professional Pitchers and teams have movie shots and films of the opposing
players that they study before the game.
From these movies they can detect where the batter has his weak point (points).
Maybe the batter can pound a fast
ball into the seats. If that is the case a good pitcher will throw an off-speed
pitch--a curve-ball, slider, sinker, or change up! If the batter can hit a ball
on the inside corner, then the pitcher will try to pinpoint the ball out and
away, almost nicking the outside corner.
The strategy of Baseball is unique
and intricate and demands time, reflection, observation and determination. Excellent pitchers have the ability to throw
the ball well, but also to outthink the batter.
Soldiers plundering the weak point
MILITARY EXAMPLE. In rule 14 of the Spiritual Exercises, St.
Ignatius of Loyola offers us another analogy by way of military expertise and
strategy. The Spanish saint and expert
in spiritual discernment catapults us back to the Middle Ages in the period of
time where feudal forts and castles abounded. These castles and forts had to be
constructed in such a way that enemies could not enter, penetrate, and plunder
the building and the inhabitants.
In other words, the enemy would study
the fortress with a fine-tooth comb. Having detected an opening, a crack,
leakage, hole in the wall, open door, open gate, or lattice in the wall
exposed, the enemy would mercilessly force himself upon the structure so as to
capture for his own benefit.
The castle well-guarded and protected
St. Teresa of Avila in her classic Interior Castle presents the interior
life of prayer in terms of a Castle with various levels or stories. However,
surrounding the castle is a moat where there are ugly reptiles, turtles,
snakes, and alligators to intimidate any person that might seek entrance.
All of these images refer to our own
state of soul—sports analogies, military fortresses and castles, the Superman
and Kryptonite. Our concluding remarks
will be a common ground in which most people have a kryptonite that exposes
them to the vicious attack of the enemy; the enemy is Satan. St. Ignatius calls
Satan the enemy of our human nature.
Do you know your own kryptonite???
DESOLATION. When you find yourself in a state of
desolation meaning sadness, depression, lack of faith, hope, and charity, you
might simply feel that life has no real meaning and nobody seems to care about
you. What is the purpose of this dreary and bleak existence!! We all go through this state of soul—at times
anyway—this is a prime time in which the devil sees our kryptonite exposed and
launches his deadly weapons. Be prepared
for his attack in the state of desolation!
LAZINESS IN PRAYER. A prime example of another kryptonite that
the devil reaps an abundant harvest from, is when we decline in our prayer
life. Example! The Apostles in the
Garden of Olives abandoned Jesus when he most needed their presence and
friendship. The reason? Instead of accompanying Him in prayer they fell
asleep! The devil took advantage of
this and they fell; Peter denied Him three times and the others fled when Jesus
was arrested! Lack of prayer exposes all of us to a powerful kryptonite!
SICKNESS. The devil takes advantage of all occasions
and circumstances. He does not respect our state of health. On the contrary,
seeing our bodies weak and depleted by physical maladies, the devil can “up it
a notch” in aiming and launching his spiritual bombs hoping for our moral
collapse! Even when sick in body, the
soul must make a concerted effort not to give up on prayer. What air is to the
lungs, prayer is to the soul and our salvation!
Kryptonite weakens and depletes strength
Failures in any size, form or circumstance can result in casting us into
a state of desolation. Economic set-backs, relational tensions, family
altercations and fights, academic failures—all of these can cause extreme
turmoil in our souls and result in the state of desolation and be an open kryptonite for the devil once
again to shoot for the kill!
SECRECY OF SOUL. When the individual is being tested by a
state of desolation, the devil has another tactic or trick up his sleeves. This
time it is SECRECY! This means while
the inner turmoil of soul grows to a boiling point, the devil, never one to
rest when he sees his opportunity to attack, convinces the person in this dark
state of soul to clam--up and not reveal to anybody his/her state of soul. Then the devil enters in and transforms a
mole-hill into a huge mountain, blowing everything out of proportion! St. Ignatius, in the 13th Rule for
discernment insists that this tormented soul battered right and left by
interior turmoil should seek out a Confessor or Spiritual Director and lay bare
his soul. By doing so, the devil and his plans will be frustrated! Once again SECRECY in not opening up to the
Confessor is a kryptonite that the devil utilizes with consummate perfection in
Know thyself-- your own kryptonite!
CONCLUSION. To advance on the highway of holiness, to
ascend the mountain of heroic virtue, to triumph in spiritual warfare, to fight
the good fight and run the good race and receive the crown of victory it is of
paramount importance that we strive to truly know ourselves better. Get to know
what your own kryptonite is! Get to know where it is, when it draws close to
you and how to flee from it. If done, the victory will be yours in time and for