|John Janaro around the year 1992|
The young man who wrote these words in May of 1992 was still riding on the cloud of his recent success in the public presentation and defense of his complex theological thesis. He was full of the praise of the examining professors and the audience, and perhaps had begun to puff up with the feeling that he really was as "brilliant" as they seemed to think.
One may or may not be brilliant, but it is not helpful to allow one's self to become preoccupied with any kind of overconfidence, since it obscures the real smallness and fragility and radical neediness that constitutes our human condition, even the condition of someone who is a genius.
I've since learned that whatever brilliance I may have had was easily paralyzed by debilitating disease, and easily turned into a weapon against itself by neurological dysfunctions of the brain. The human person is fragile indeed, but also -- by the force of the implacable aspiration of a living vocation and the strength of Divine grace -- tenacious and adaptable, capable of refocusing and moving forward.
One learns, slowly, that self-satisfaction and pride choke off the true growth of the person, and that what is needed is a realistic assessment of one's capacities and a giving-over of everything to the wisdom and goodness of God, to follow the way that He leads.
As I said, one learns slowly -- for the most part. This lesson is a journey of trust, realism, and self-surrender.
I am still on that journey, 22 years after I wrote these words. I still have a scar on my finger from the injury I describe below. It was a small suffering, but it reminded me that I was on the road to transcendence, a long and arduous road.
Young John Janaro, May 14, 1992: