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Thursday, October 6, 2016

What is Falzhaefengilt?

Falzhaefengilt is a feeling of shame, guilt, frustration, or failure in a person arising from or associated with an act of charity the person performed.  Usually the feeling accompanies the act itself but occasionally it immediately proceeds during a period of reflection.

Falzhaefengilt manifests itself as a desire of the individual to downplay the act, or run from the scene of the act, take careful steps to ensure that the act is anonymous and untraceable, or follow up the act with self-deprecating statements.  The individual may sometimes wish to make excuses for the act.  In other words the behavior leading up to or following the act has all the appearance of a guilty conscience.

Schindler's List dramatized it.

It is uncertain how common Falzhaefengilt is but there is plenty of evidence to suggest that it is rather common.

Mother Teresa may also have experienced it.
I spoke [to others] as if my very heart was in love with God—tender, personal love. If you were [there], you would have said, "What hypocrisy."

Her spiritual agony was exploited by her critics who viewed her as a fraud.  They claimed that the phenomenon of Mother Teresa was driven by feelings of guilt called Middle Class or Bourgeois Guilt.  Mother Teresa supposedly took advantage of this.  (Though what this "advantage" got her is unclear).

However, Falzhafengilt is not a feeling that arises from ignorance of the "interior life" or without consideration for the lower emotions.  It is not the product of hypocrisy or unexpressed guilt.  The person who suffers from Falzhaefengilt is aware of the fact that his or her own motivations for the act are not genuine or pure.  That is part of the spiritual problem. The charitable act happens despite guilt not because of it and knowing that feelings of guilt (in terms of one's own fallen nature) will remain.

It can be anticipated that exploring Falzhaefengilt will lead us to other important questions.  I do not claim to have any of the answers to these questions.  But a respectful dialog may help to form a clearer picture of the interior struggles of sinners and saints, the nature of morality, and our relationship with other's as a community and as individuals.

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