The Inner Thoughts of Many…

Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, ‘This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed…’ (Luke 2:34-35)

I had different idea brewing to write about, but when I heard the above verse from the Gospel reading at Mass on the feast day of the Presentation of Our Lord, it pierced me. There is so much in it that speaks to our time, especially the last phrase.

First of all, it seems that the more society rejects God, the more “free” people feel to give voice to things that in the past might have remained unspoken. The “inside voice” has become the “outside voice”. Everyone is talking at once, and almost no one is prepared to be swayed from their position. Amidst the noise and chaos is a spiritual dynamic: the inner thoughts of many are being revealed.

In the past only God had access to our inner thoughts. Now we are all being exposed to the cacophony. We are getting a taste of what God has had to endure since the fall, but amplified in our day, and there is almost no escape. Oh, the wisdom of silent contemplation! The mind of man is a bucking wild horse broken free of its last harness. Look out!

The second reason this phrase pierced me is that I have recently read a book titled, “The Warning: Testimonies and Prophecies of the Illumination of Conscience” by Christine Watkins*. For those of you who have never heard of the prophesied “warning” or “illumination of conscience” I offer you a simple explanation. The prophecy, explicated by numerous well-known saints and mystics including St. Faustina, tells of an coming manifestation of God’s mercy in which we will see ourselves as God sees us, in the light of Truth, but also in the light of his unimaginable love for poor sinner and has been called “a judgment in miniature”. It will be a great shaking for humanity, an event that will remove all doubt about the existence of our perfectly merciful and perfectly just God, a time of decision for every living human soul each of whom will have to answer the question posed by God: “Are you with Me or against Me?”

The foreword of the above-mentioned book was written by Bishop Gavin Ashenden (Chaplain to the Queen of England from 2008 to 2017). He begins by saying, “Every so often a book falls into one’s hands that is particularly powerful in unveiling the mystery and power of God’s purpose for his Church today, and this is one such.” The book contains, not just prophecies, but real-life testimonies of people who have already experienced an illumination, a sneak-preview of what is purportedly to come.

Intrigued, I bought the e-book, not realizing that one of the people whose testimony is included is, in fact, a friend of mine. I knew her at the time she experienced her illumination several years ago. It left her so shaken it was a full week before she could speak to me about it. The experience was extremely painful—to see how her sins had hurt Our Lord. It left her with a profound sense of gratitude and love of our merciful God, along with a burning desire never to hurt him again, which has not waned to this day.

Reading these stories helps us to realize that even our little sins hurt God. St. Faustina herself had an illumination of conscience, and described it in this way:

“Suddenly I saw the complete condition of my soul as God sees it. I could clearly see all that is displeasing to God. I did not know that even the smallest transgressions will have to be accounted for. What a moment! Who can describe it? To stand before the Thrice-Holy-God!”

Divine Mercy in My Soul (36)

This is not meant to be cause for fear, but is an unimaginable grace leading to a far deeper repentance than we could ever imagine. What a gift! Whether or not you believe that this global event is imminent, it is a ever prudent to keep our spiritual house in order, especially through the grace of mercy and the mercy of grace found in the sacraments.

This past week the Office of Readings in the Liturgy of the Hours, featured a reflection by Saint Bernard, abbot. Though it was penned almost 1000 years ago, it remains a timeless teaching on every sinner’s right to the mercy of God. I was going to use excerpts but could not decide which jewel was superfluous. So, I give the final word to St. Bernard:

“Where can the weak find a place of firm security and peace, except in the wounds of the Savior? Indeed, the more secure is my place there the more he can do to help me. The world rages, the flesh is heavy, and the devil lays his snares, but I do not fall, for my feet are planted on firm rock. I may have sinned gravely. My conscience would be distressed, but it would not be in turmoil, for I would recall the wounds of the Lord: he was wounded for our iniquities. What sin is there so deadly that it cannot be pardoned by the death of Christ? And so if I bear in mind this strong, effective remedy, I can never again be terrified by the malignancy of sin.

“Surely the man who said: My sin is too great to merit pardon, was wrong. He was speaking as though he were not a member of Christ and had no share in his merits, so that he could claim them as his own, as a member of the body can claim what belongs to the head. As for me, what can I appropriate that I lack from the heart of the Lord who abounds in mercy? They pierced his hands and feet and opened his side with a spear. Through the openings of these wounds I may drink honey from the rock and oil from the hardest stone: that is, I may taste and see that the Lord is sweet.

“He was thinking thoughts of peace, and I did not know it, for who knows the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor? But the piercing nail has become a key to unlock the door, that I may see the good will of the Lord. And what can I see as I look through the hole? Both the nail and the wound cry out that God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself. The sword pierced his soul and came close to his heart, so that he might be able to feel compassion for me in my weaknesses.

“Through these sacred wounds we can see the secret of his heart, the great mystery of love, the sincerity of his mercy with which he visited us from on high. Where have your love, your mercy, your compassion shone out more luminously that in your wounds, sweet, gentle Lord of mercy? More mercy than this no one has than that he lay down his life for those who are doomed to death.

“My merit comes from his mercy; for I do not lack merit so long as he does not lack pity. And if the Lord’s mercies are many, then I am rich in merits. For even if I am aware of many sins, what does it matter? Where sin abounded grace has overflowed. And if the Lord’s mercies are from all ages for ever, I too will sing of the mercies of the Lord for ever. Will I not sing of my own righteousness? No, Lord, I shall be mindful only of your justice. Yet that too is my own; for God has made you my righteousness.”

Second Reading in the Office of Readings, Wednesday, Third Week in Ordinary Time

(*”The Warning” is available for purchase at Queen of Peace Media or Amazon)

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Feet for the Journey…

Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. (Luke 2:4-5)

Do you ever think about feet? Maybe only when they’re hurting. Our feet serve us so humbly and faithfully, we do miss them when they are out of commission. A year or so ago, I was diagnosed with plantar fasciitis in one foot and Achilles tendinopathy in the other. At the same time had a frozen hip joint. It was a perfect storm—I was quite out of commission. I remember watching people walk and marveling at the beauty of it, at God’s stunning design of our bodies that, when they are functioning normally, can travel long distances on foot. We have gotten away from that in modern times, and that’s a pity. God be praised in the glory of the human body!

The Scripture passage above gives precious little insight into the actual journey the Holy Couple undertook to get from Nazareth to Bethlehem for the census. But Mary and Joseph’s 90-mile journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem was no doubt filled with great hardship. Having been to the Holy Land in the past year, I have a new appreciation, not just for the sheer length of the journey, but also the punishing terrain along the way. Winter in the Holy Land can be cold and rainy, and the trip would have been slow, likely taking a week or more. Whether they traveled on foot or rode a donkey, it would have been grueling, especially as Mary was heavy with child.

Perhaps it seems strange to consider their feet at this holy time of year. But Advent is a journey—a mission really. And as soldiers know, if you don’t look after your feet, your mission may become compromised over something as seemingly inconsequential as a blister.

The feet of Mary and Joseph would have been cold and sore. No hot bath at the end of each day either! This too was the hidden life of Nazareth. How fascinating it will be in heaven to know much was won for us through daily trials such as these.

Some years ago, I felt led to see how many passages in Scripture mentioned the feet of Jesus, either directly or indirectly. There were more than I had considered, so I put together some little prayer meditations, which I have adapted here.

Luke 2: 16 So (the shepherds) went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger.

Mary and Joseph were specially chosen to care for Jesus in his infancy and childhood. As parents, would they not have kissed his pure little feet in homage, and would not the Holy Child whose feet would one day be nailed to the cross, have been consoled by it? Beloved Jesus, your infant feet, cared for and adored by Mary and Joseph, were a visible sign of your innocence and purity. May we strive always to imitate your innocence and purity. As we kiss your holy feet in the Christmas manger, may you feel once more the comforting kisses of Mary and Joseph. May your kingdom come!

John 1: 14 And the Word became flesh and lived among us.

When the Word became flesh, his holy feet served as a living bridge between heaven and earth. Each step he took on earth sanctified and cleansed the world he came to save. Living Word of the Father, use our prayers and sacrifices as you wish to once again bridge heaven and earth. Walk in our walking, pray in our praying, love in our loving. May your kingdom come!

Romans 10:15 As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring the good news!”

Matthew 11: 4-5 Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them.”

How our Lord’s holy feet must have suffered as they trod the hot and dusty roads of the Holy Land to bring the Good News to the poor! Humble Savior, for the sake of your holy feet so battered on account of our sin, grant us the grace to imitate your long-suffering perseverance in spreading the Gospel message to those you send us, for the glory of God the Father. May your kingdom come!

Mark 5: 22-24 Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw him, fell at his feet and begged him repeatedly, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live.” So he went with him.

The Divine Physician had mercy on Jairus who fell at his holy feet to make supplication for the life and health of his daughter. In his mercy he rewarded the man’s faith and answered his prayer. Glorious Savior, to whom nothing is impossible, grant us the humility and faith we need to work and pray for the conversion of sinners, so that all who are dead in their sins will be brought, in you, to newness of life. May your kingdom come!

Luke 10: 38-39 Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying.

The Divine Teacher told Martha that her sister Mary had chosen the “better part” in choosing to sit at his feet and listen to him. Beloved Lord, may we, like Mary, always choose the better part. May we sit at your holy feet and learn from you new ways to worship you and contemplate your glory. May your kingdom come!

Luke 7: 44-47 Then turning towards the woman, he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has bathed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which were many, have been forgiven; hence she has shown great love.”

The love and gratitude this woman felt for Jesus gave her a holy audacity. She did not let human approval stop her from showing her love for her Beloved, bathing his holy feet with her tears and wiping them with her hair, from covering his feet with kisses and anointing them with costly oil. Lord of compassion, as we sinners contemplate your mercy, may all that we have been given and forgiven fill us with unending gratitude, holy audacity, great confidence, and unending trust in your great love. May your kingdom come!

John 19:16 Then (Pilate) handed (Jesus) over to them to be crucified.

Our loving Savior allowed his holy feet to be nailed to the cross out of love for us, allowing every drop of his precious blood to spill to earth. Founts of mercy gushed forth from him, top to bottom. O Lord, what love! Give us the courage we need to stand at the foot of your cross with our Blessed Mother and St. John, that we too may kiss your holy, crucified feet. May your kingdom come!

Matthew 28: 8-9 So (the women) left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshipped him.

Jesus, the God of surprise and delight, met the women on the road after the angels had told them that their Lord had risen from the dead. In love and unimaginable joy, they embraced his holy feet and paid him homage. Risen Savior, may we also worship you passionately as Lord and Savior, embracing your holy feet with delight, as we wait in joyful hope for the fulfilment of your promise to come again in glory. May your kingdom come!

1 Corinthians 15: 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.

The King of Kings must reign until he has placed all his enemies under his holy feet. All-powerful Savior, may our humble prayers and sacrifices, perfected in the power of the Divine Will, hasten the day of your coming in glory. May your kingdom come! Fiat!

Ephesians 6:14-15 Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace.

As FOOTsoldiers in the Lord’s army, we aim to be lowly and useful, fulfilling our duties whether we are appreciated or not. Perhaps we are best represented as being the feet in the body of Christ. Glorious Commander, train us to become more humble, faithful, and steadfast in your service. Protect us against the tiniest blister of sin, or the most putrid fungus of pride. Lord Jesus, may your kingdom come and your will be done on earth as in heaven! Fiat!

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Union of Wills…

Jesus’ prayer to the Father at the Last Supper: “(May they) all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” (John 17: 21-23)

Jesus spoke these words as part of the Last Supper discourse, a heart-wrenching prayer to his Father. It was his final hour, and every word he spoke bore the weight of eternity. Even in this short Scripture passage, we sense the tremendous longing in the heart of Jesus for unity among his followers. The words themselves seem to tremble on the page.

It is of cosmic importance that on his last night on earth, Jesus bequeathed to his followers the inner life of the Trinity—a unity of wills in perfect love—praying “that they may be one, as we are one…so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” This is the life of heaven and we are called to live it now as a sign to the world that God sent his only Son to die out of pure love for us. We need to ponder this deeply. Sins against unity, that is unity with the will of God, cause great damage to the Church and consequently to the world.

Lately we have heard of a serious disagreement between the bishops of Germany, and the Vatican. Too often these days, the word “schism” is heard in Catholic circles. My friends, if the Church herself cannot maintain unity, what hope is there for those who do not believe in God? Unity is critical, now more than ever, a unity born in the humility of the manger.

In the Liturgy of the Hours is a reading from a letter to Diognetus which contains this line: “…it is by the Christians, detained in the world as in a prison, that the world is held together.” Unity with the will of God and each other is a sacred duty for Christians.

Several years ago our parish ladies group visited a Carmelite monastery in our diocese. We were blessed with a brief audience—through a grate—with the saintly prioress, Mother Teresa of Jesus (may she rest in peace). She spoke about life in a closed community. She did not sugar-coat it, emphasizing more than once the challenges of living day in and day out with “the same 10 people.” Yet, in spite of the challenges, they were a true community modeling a common unity. Did they always agree? Certainly not. Did they sometimes argue? Most likely. Were they living in unity? Absolutely! Their unity did not depend on agreement in earthly matters, but on loving obedience to the will of God in the bond of charity.

Someone once asked St. Mother Theresa of Calcutta how we can know what the will of God is in any given situation. She gave a little smile and replied, “Wait and see what happens.” That is the reply of one who lives in the fiat of the Blessed Virgin Mary, always docile to the movement of the Spirit. 

Those of us who try to live in the will of God know that His will is not always easy to discern. That is why it is good to have a spiritual director, or priest, or someone spiritually mature enough to help with discernment. When in doubt, we cannot err in being obedient to those God has placed over us in authority.

Unity with the Will of God is what we must aspire to at all times. This has never been easy for us, for the shadow of the evil one is never far away. He loves to sow confusion and chaos, misunderstanding and the pride of self-righteousness, a righteousness that divides and seeks to conquer. There is no peace in this approach, only division. Therefore, we need to look carefully at the attitudes we hold—and especially the ones that hold us! Let us not be slaves to them, but always act out of love for those God sends us. Let our own thoughts and feelings take a back seat to the true inspiration of the Spirit in the bond of charity. Then we will be working for peace, not division.

Never has it been more urgent that we learn to live in God’s will, to desire it above all else. It is the only way to peace and unity in families, in the Church, and in the world. God has given us many unimaginable graces in our day. We must re-double our efforts to be faithful, attentive, and docile to the Spirit. No one is safe outside of grace. Humility is key; pride will be our undoing. And when we fail, let us place all our trust in God who can, by his merciful grace, make what is bitter, sweet.

Where hearts are not at peace there can be no unity. Where hearts are not at prayer there can be no peace, for one flows out of the other. Peace has its source in the heart of God, which is perfect unity. Since prayer is communion with God, the more one prays, the more the fruits of peace and unity will flow.

We are children of light! We must not give in to the shadows. Light always dispels shadows. Let us stay firmly rooted in the truth of our faith found in the Divine Will, especially as taught to Luisa Piccareta. And in all things—charity.

ADDENDUM: Minutes after I posted this, I read this article which quotes Cardinal Robert Sarah. He speaks very strongly on the theme of unity.

Mountains laid low…

(Friends, I first wrote this in 2006 and have re-posted it a few times now. I find it helps me in preparing for Christmas to meditate on this at Advent.)

(John the Baptist) went throughout (the) whole region of the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah:

‘The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” ’ (Luke 3:3-6)

For some reason I have found myself doing a lot of apologizing lately. So much so, that I have felt compelled to reflect on the phenomena. Two possibilities emerge: either I have been acting more rashly than usual lately, or else the Lord is giving me some new illumination on the effects my words and actions are having on others. If it is the latter, then comes the horrifying thought that I have habitually acted in ways that are arbitrarily hurtful to others. Mercy!

“Every mountain and hill shall be made low.” As I read the above gospel reading, I begin to realize that these humiliations may be meant to form part of my “fast of St. Martin”**. The mountains of my pride and the hills of my arrogance are being laid low, one at a time. Gee, I wonder how many there are?

As painful and humiliating as the process is, I must be grateful to God for the grace of it. The more the rough ways of my selfishness are made smooth, the more comfortable a resting-place will my heart be for the Prince of Peace when he comes. I suppose it is Mary’s doing. As I prepare to renew my consecration to her on December 12, I can imagine her making ready the poor and lowly manger of my heart to receive the Infant King. Her loving care for my miserable soul dazzles like the star of Bethlehem. Who can fathom her love for us and for all she does to make us ready to receive her Son?

I am reminded of an Advent experience a few years ago. It was a time of great personal trial for me. Our business was failing and the future seemed far from certain. It was at this very low point of my life, during Advent, that God withdrew from me any smidgen of evidence that he was there. I had no comfort. Prayer was a chore. I felt heavy. It was a feeling that went beyond the circumstances of my life. Spiritually speaking, it was a dark night.

There was one prayer I prayed over and over, but even that I prayed without feeling. It was from Psalm 116, vs 10: “I trusted, even when I said, ‘I am sorely afflicted.’” It was a prayer of the will, not the heart. But it was all I could muster, and I clung to it.

It was a long, dry Advent for me. I could not look forward to Christmas in any way. When I went to confession, even though I had not told the priest about my darkness, he made this comment out of the blue, “I see a baby. Why don’t you invite the Infant Jesus into your heart this Christmas.”

I did not give his words much thought. They were far too simplistic for what I was going through. Then, the BSP newsletter came out. In Bruce’s column, lo! and behold, he also encouraged us to invite the Infant Jesus into our hearts at Christmas.

Okay,okay, I’ll do it, I thought. Something simple can always be tried, I suppose. But, like Naaman*, I didn’t hold out much hope.

I dragged myself to Christmas Eve mass even though I had no heart for it. After communion I decided to try the “simple thing”. I invited the Infant Jesus into my heart. At that very moment, the darkness lifted. The Light was back! I could not believe or understand it, but there it was! My life circumstances had not changed, but my Jesus was back in my heart! With unprecedented joy my heart sang, “Glory to God in the highest! And peace to his people on earth!” My prayer of trust had been answered most spectacularly in my very own Christmas miracle!

If I were to draw a single lesson for penitents from these Advent experiences it would be to encourage all of us to remain docile to whatever the Lord or his Mother ask of us during Advent. As penitents we have a special role to play in making straight the way of the Lord. Let us not begrudge Our Lord and Our Lady anything they ask, but offer it all up for the forgiveness of sins and for the conversion of sinners.

May our Advent sacrifices make straight the way of the Lord, so that all flesh may see the salvation of God this Christmas. May the Infant Jesus dwell in every heart.

(* Naaman – see 2 Kings 5:1-14)

(**Fast of St. Martin – in the BSP we have a 40 day pre-Christmas fasting period that begins after the Feast of St. Martin of Tours.)

Harmony…

“And I said: ‘Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!’” (Isaiah 6:5)

By the grace of God, I am involved in music ministry in our parish. I have no voice training, so I am always amazed at people who can harmonize, seemingly without effort. It occurred to me recently that these people, by singing “wrong” are vastly enhancing the beauty of the piece. There is a lesson here for all of us, who even on our best days have only weakness to offer God.

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Swaddling bands…

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 16:24,25)

I have felt led to ponder lately on the swaddling bands of Christ and what they symbolize in the Divine Will. I was thinking about Jesus, the glorious, infinite Word of God, the Second Person of the Trinity, about whom St. Paul wrote:

“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him. He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.” (Colossians 1:15-20)

I have to say, this is one of my favorite Scripture passages. It so clearly and beautifully depicts the glorious participation of Jesus in the act of Creation, yet more than participation, it speaks of Christ as the very reason that creation exists at all. It was a glorious gift from Father to Son, but not just something to be played with, not a bauble or a toy, but something to die for—literally! This passage says so much that we could spend a lifetime meditating on it and never plumb its depths. Continue reading

Humility…

John 14:10, 12 “The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works….Very truly I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father.

Every Christian, indeed every human creature, is called to humility. Certainly as Christians, we should be always aware that we are mere creatures, miniscule fragments in the Divine imagination. Pondering on our own smallness must always lead us farther down the path of humility. Christ must increase, and we must decrease. We all know that, but implementing it is often a tricky business.

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Hooked on a feeling…

Matthew 5:43-45 You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven…

I’m sure we have all heard the cliché line that a counsellor or therapist might use: “How did that make you feel?” The popular theory is that if we can identify our feelings, we can communicate more effectively and our relationships will improve. To paraphrase a 60s pop song, society is hooked on feelings.

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The power of detachment…

The apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith!’ 6The Lord replied, ‘If you had faith the size of a* mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, “Be uprooted and planted in the sea,” and it would obey you. (Luke 17:5-6)

If we had faith the size of a mustard seed, we would see miracles. Imagine! What can this mean for us who, like the man in Mark 9:24, can only pray, “Lord I believe! Help my unbelief!”

I often tell people, “Pray, ‘Jesus I trust in you.’ Pray it till you mean it!” What I have discovered is that trust in God is more than a prayer, it is a many-faceted virtue forged in the fire of trials. In my experience, the facets of trust include detachment, humility, surrender, and probably many more, but these are the three I want to expand on in this article.

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Miserable Beggars…

Ephesians 1:17-19 I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power.

Dear friends, most often I end my article with an excerpt from my prayer journal, but this time I wish to begin with one:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3)

“Beloved child, be always littler. Recognize your abject lack, your total need. Not only are your pockets empty but you come into the world without pockets and you leave the same way. All is gift. All. You have no virtue, nothing to sustain you in any way outside of grace. Recognize your utter dependence on Providence. But go beyond this recognition and celebrate that you are a miserable beggar before your gracious Lord. My child, the beggars are the ones who receive the most because of their utter reliance on their beloved Lord. They never stop looking at him with a gaze of love and gratitude, for they cannot believe their good fortune in serving such a generous, kind Lord. Children, my heart cannot resist a beggar with love and gratitude in their eyes. The heavenly treasure is theirs!”

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