Last year I taught a new Ennegram series titled "Enneagram and the Holidays."
It was very well received and the work was apparently quite helpful to the people
who attended the workshop. We agreed at the beginning of that Saturday to spend
from 9:00 in the morning until 4:00 in the afternoon trying to be honest about
how we each felt about the celebration of Thanksgiving and Christmas with family.
It was a day filled with stories of frustration, pain and regret. One person after
another talked about all the pain that surrounds getting together with family
for this "most joyous" time of the year. It has taken me the year since
to unpackage all that was shared and experienced that day. Having done that work
now I would report that very little that surrounds the holiday celebrations we
are all a part of has to do with the big picture. It is a moment to moment experience
that seems to be marked by expectation, which leads to comparison and competition,
which leads to winning and losing, which leads to resentment.
In today's reading Fr. Richard said, "There is one Great Drama that utterly
relativizes and situates all our daily emotions, hurts, addictions and plans.
When you abide in the Godself, the small self is always seen as limited, insecure
and good ___ but still passing away."
When we don't abide in the Godself, we get caught in what Thomas Merton, Fr. Richard
and others refer to as the False Self.
The Question: What study, if any, have you done of the True Self and the False Self?
I've done quite a bit of study on this topic so I want to share a couple of ideas
that might be helpful for the Advent Season and I have suggested resources listed
at the end of my reflection if you are interested in more study.
This is the construct of the False Self. It is made up of at least these three things:
What I have
What I do
What others think of me
If you put that in the context of "family holidays" then you are instantly
aware that we spend our time together in False Self, each of us measuring and
monitoring what each one has, what each one does and how each one is viewed in
the eyes of the others.
In addition, the False Self is the domain of unhappiness. Every time you are unhappy
or feeling sad during the days leading up to and just beyond Christmas ask yourself
Why am I unhappy?
Is it not because I cannot do something I want to do?
Is it not because I cannot have something I want to have?
Is it not becaue I am concerned about what others will think?
I can almost guarantee it will ultimately be one of these. So, what shall we do?
The best answer I have is to make some suggestions regarding how the True Self behaves
differently from the False Self.
The True Self does not oppose anything and it does not differentiate or compare itself.
The True Self is not trapped in the habit we have of seeing ourselves over and against
When we are in the True Self we don't really act, we are.
The True Self is who God created and who you are.
The True Self would be able to honestly say, "I am not who you think I am or
who you need me to be." Try taking that posture to Christmas dinner. It
will bring more freedom than you can imagine.
Zen: The True Self is defined as the face you had before you were born.
Paul: The True Self is who you are when you are hidden with Christ in God.
Fr. Rohr: The True Self is who you were before you did anything wrong or anything
It will take some serious centering and some thoughtful preparation, but wouldn't
it be great to take your True Self to celebrate Chrsitmas this year? None of
us will be totally successful in this endeavor, but we can all be more True than
we were last year.
Because it is the True Self that Jesus recognizes, it will be the True part of your
heart that He enters.
Wishing you peace.
Fr. Richard's audio presentation True Self, False Self, available from St. Anthony Messenger Press
Enneagram and the Holidays ..... Suzanne Stabile available on our website www.lifeinthetrinityministry.com or at The Micah Center