Thursday, November 24, 2011

To Go Unnoticed

Recently, in a confession regarding meekness (or lack therein), the subject of the "desire to be noticed" surfaced.  Surely, yes, it was an inspiration from God in the confessor, and one to be pondered and prayed. Whether or not there is a desire to be noticed in any of us, we could hardly rightly discern.  It is one of those subtle, even subconscious, vices (human enough, it was said) that we can only assume to be there, within us, to some degree even if in imagining some situation in which we might be noticed.

The only admission to make, for any person, is yes, there is a desire to be noticed.  How could anyone rightly say no, especially when there is no way of really knowing until one does whatever necessary to halt the desire?  And what is the only sure way to halt a desire to be noticed--or at least to prove one way or another if it is there or not?

The antidote to desire to be noticed is to simply not be noticed.

Of course, we must explain with some discussion.  The greatest circumstance for being noticed is by those who recognize us from our presence physically among them, with some aspect of knowing--such as a name, a face, a position, activity, or more.  Yet, it is among our most intimate family members (with exception of children who vie for attention among siblings and parents) and friends of longest duration that the desire to be noticed seems immune.  We just are as we are with these...barring those mentally ill who crave attention and notice even within the inner circle.

Another immunity from being noticed is that of large, public places in which people are intent upon a goal other than noticing strangers. A grocery store, mall, airport, walkway, or driving a car amidst traffic are places and situations in which there is not repetition of recognition and/or the purpose for being there is so goal-oriented (looking for a product on store shelf).  Thus one can go veritably unnoticed in such situations and places; if noticed, the circumstance is beyond ones control--unless the desire to be noticed creates an effect, to note.

Wearing garb that stands out--colors and fashion so very unique, individual, or ritualistic as to be eye-catching and identifiable--cannot qualify in the passing unnoticed test.  Being exceptional in negative ways--of crime or acting out against the norms in ways noticeable--is sure to be noticed.
Excesses in eating, too much or too little, bring notice in body size.  The same occurs in speech: too much, too loud, too little, too soft.  So it goes in any number of situations in which we could be noticed beyond simply being repetitively recognized.

Again, some situations of being noticed may not be within our control.  These are few, however, once a person determines decisively to snuff any suspect desire to be noticed by simple removal of all that causes notice, including locations in which one is recognized--especially if that notice is deemed a problem or flaw.  Yet, very few actually have the opportunity to limit or eradicate or even test the desire to be noticed.  But most if not everyone can test it at least for a brief experiment.

A hermit has the luxury of time and opportunity.  Being hidden from the eyes of men is one basic premise of the eremitic life.  This is a tremendous grace--to be able to test out, to practice, to live one's life increasingly unnoticed.  Unless one must work in a set place, repetitively so in which others will recognize and know over time, the hermit otherwise is quite free to begin the test and to live it henceforth.  There really are few places one must frequent, frequently.  Other than worship, the chance of repeated recognition or knowing is amazingly limited in the daily necessities.

In worship, one can be unnoticed for the most part, by changing location, and within location by change of seating area, or worship times, and frequency.  If by some odd chance something befalls to create notice beyond one's control, then there may be removal, beyond one's control.  If one is yet charged to delete any lurking desire to be noticed and all other means to remain unnoticed have been utilized (appearance and behavior), then one can eliminate other possible situations of recognition, of being noticed.  It may seem extreme, but rooting out desire to be noticed is rather an extreme process.

What are signs of proof, after one has done all to pass unnoticed and God has removed even by atypical means the possibility of being noticed, that one does not desire to be noticed? It seems that one sign is that willingness of the person to be unnoticed, to accept the circumstances of removal.  Another indication could be that of heightened focus in prayer, spiritual reading, absorption in His
Real Presence in the Word and all Sacraments, thanksgiving, as well as in daily, temporal tasks.  A true spirit of holy indifference and spiritual detachment from self occurs; and with it comes a sense of freedom in the Trinity that brings a peace to the soul.

Another proof is that one thoroughly loves not being noticed and realizes it even loathed notice.

Others may discourage such action, even if they were the ones to suggest there is a desire to be noticed.  Suddenly they may interject that one does not really need to rid out the desire by taking actual action, embracing the only sure antidote to such a desire by determining to simply, profoundly, decisively avoid being noticed.  Yes, it takes some courage and forethought, much self-examination and figuring out the lay of the land and ones own habits both outer and inner, in time and space.  But it is a worthwhile effort--not just to imagine what it would be like, but to actually effect the reality of not being noticed.  It is possible if but even for a day or week, or in small eclipses of notice, bit by bit.

Having the opportunity to stop being noticed brings with it a freedom not experienced in the temporal realm, not even in the visible church.  The freedom brings the soul to the immolation of self required for mystical union, even if for short embraces now and then with the Divine.

Note:  To cease writing and sharing writing is one point of being noticed, even if the writer is anonymous.  The sharing of thoughts if read by others repetitively, or the same readers to a point of recognizing the sequence and style of prose, could be a type of notice.  Does the subconscious or conscious have a desire that the writings are noticed?  What is the test--to cease writing? Or, cease comment availability and thus not know if the writing is being read; be as in a supermarket venue in which if noticed, it is beyond one's control? Or, if negative comments, do they assist in the self-annihilation, the death to any lurking desire to be noticed?  There may be other aspects of being noticed that one does not notice in the realm of note but to pray for fool-proofs.


  1. Does it matter whether people notice you or not? Why not just forget about it and get on with your business?

  2. Isn't this preoccupation with being noticed just another snare of self-entanglement? Why not just keep focused on the Face of Jesus?

  3. Dear Hroswitha, It does matter in the progression of the soul in the spiritual life to go with the flow of the spiritual director's insights. It is all an exploration and to die to self in ways seen and unseen. To pass unnoticed is a level of the process in which one discovers within more any subtle motives or desires other than His Real Presence and then to uproot them. This process takes some prayer and pondering and discovery, as well. To focus solely on the Face of Jesus sounds good, but the actuality of being able to focus on the Trinity is more the ultimate goal. To be able to do that, one must also die to self at the same time. Passing unnoticed is part of that death. I hope this helps. Thanks for your questions. They are appreciated in offering me a chance to clarify or to consider from a reader's perception. The spiritual path is one of increasing deaths to that which hinders us temporally which bring increasing births to the spiritual, allowing a soul to then better focus on the Most Holy Trinity, His Real Presence in fullness and wholeness.

  4. Are you saying that you can approach the Trinity without Jesus? Is not Jesus our portal to the Trinity? How do you conceive of the Trinity? When you pray, who/what are you with?

  5. Dear Hroswitha, Thanks for the good questions. Perhaps I will write more in depth on this topic, although my other readers understand the Trinity, so it might be redundant for them. If you have a Catechism of the Catholic Church or could borrow one from a parish, please read about the Trinity in sections 232-256 (approx.). You will find that Jesus is the Second Person of the Holy Trinity; the Father is the First Person, and the Holy Spirit is the Third Person. However, they are Three in One. All three Persons would be considered portals of prayer and interaction, yet each have more distinct functions. I can't say that any of the Persons are portals "to the Trinity", for they ARE the Trinity. Another good resource that is fairly complete and detailed is Msgr. Adolphe Tanquerey's "The Spiritual Life: A Treatise on Ascetical and Mystical Theology." Tan publishes a paperbound copy, but online you may be able to purchase a used hardbound. The Blessed Trinity (Three Divine Persons) is detailed in sections 90-101. Specifically, when we pray, we are within the Trinity, which by grace draws us in by varying degrees dependent upon the state of our souls in any given moment. We are in prayer within the Three Divine Persons of the One Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. While brief, I hope this helps. I highly recommend the other reading, though. Every now and then I re-read from books I have here, as I feel it helps me always to keep learning. I really like Garrigou-Lagrange's writings. He has a couple volumes just on the Holy Trinity. There's much out there to read by proven theologians and makes learning more about the Faith a joy for us.

  6. Dear Hroswitha, By other readers in the above comment, I mean the ones who are in contact with me privately. I'm sure there may be some readers out there who do not understand the Trinity, and that is why I appreciate your question all the more, for I think I'll cut and paste this response on a post, and I'll include some other titles for people to possibly read--at least the parts specific to your question. They are very good questions that you ask. Thanks again.


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