Little by little we are able to hear the still, small voice in the hurricane, the earthquake, or the fire. God is hidden in difficulties. If we can find him there, we will never lose him. Without difficulties, we do not know the power of God’s mercy and the incredible destiny he has for each of us. We must be patient with our failures. There’s always another opportunity unless we go ashore and stay there. A no-risk situation is the biggest danger there is. To encounter the winds and the waves is not a sign of defeat. It is a training in the art of living, which is the art of yielding to God’s action and believing in his love no matter what happens.
-Father Thomas Keating, O.C.S.O.
I ask thee, O God, not for the goods of this world, for pleasures, for honors. Give me, by the merits of thy Passion, O my Jesus, a constant sorrow for my sins. Enlighten me and make me know the vanity of worldly goods and how much you deserve to be loved. Separate me from all attachment to the world and bind me entirely to thy love, so that from now on my will may neither seek nor desire anything but what you will. Give me patience and resignation in infirmities, in poverty, and in all those things which are contrary to my self-love. Make me gentle toward those who despise me. Give me a holy death. Give me your holy love. And above all, I pray to you to give me perseverance in your grace until death. Never permit me to separate myself from you again. And I also ask of you the grace always to have recourse to you and to invoke your aid in all my temptations. Amen
– St. Alphonsus Liguori
Precisely because our secular milieu offers us so few spiritual disciplines, we have to develop our own. We have, indeed, to fashion our own desert where we can withdraw every day, shake off our compulsions, and dwell in the gentle healing presence of our Lord. Without such a desert we will lose our own soul while preaching the gospel to others, but with such a spiritual abode, we will become increasingly conformed to him in whose name we minister . . . Solitude is its own end. It is the place where Christ remodels us in his own image and frees us from the victimizing compulsions of the world. Solitude is the place of our salvation.
– Henri Nouwen
Trials are not only good for us, but necessary for our spiritual growth, especially if endured with the right disposition. During hard times, God helps us see that control is really an illusion. We’re not in charge. Our lives don’t even belong to us. We would cease to exist if the Holy Spirit stopped actively sustaining our existence, even for one second . . . God is more responsible for our lives than we are. Our job is to listen, humble ourselves, work hard and not get in his way.
Prayer is a gift. It is a gift because Christian prayer is based on our knowing the Lord Jesus Christ and on our having the power of the Holy Spirit that will stir and anoint us, and move through us in prayer. Prayer is based on our being part of the Body of Christ and standing with Jesus in prayer . . . We should desire prayer. We should thirst for it, seek after it, make decisions for it and repent when we don’t live up to those decisions. The gift of prayer is given to us so we can be in union with God. Prayer can transform our mind and inspire us so that in no situation, do we give way to discouragement or depression. Prayer is meant to be the assurance that we cannot be overcome. In all circumstances we can say, ‘I belong to God. I’m royalty. I have the first pledge of my inheritance. Regardless of what happens to me, I am in the company of the saints and the apostles and I am destined to live forever.’ Because of our prayer life, we are victorious.
– Father Michael Scanlan, T.O.R.
For most people, daily life in the secular world is the place where transformation in Christ is worked out. Like the Pharisee, one can be in religious life and not be transformed. So, what is it that makes the difference between the daily transformed life and the religious untransformed life? It’s the hidden action of the Kingdom of God that works not so much through external circumstances as through a radical change in our attitudes. This is what transformation is. It is not going on pilgrimage or entering a special state of life. It is how we live where we are and what we do with those circumstance.
– Father Thomas Keating, O.C.S.O.
Christianity is more about our undoing than our pulling it together. It’s the unraveling of our grandiose plans. The collapsing of our defenses. The slow release of the reins in our tightly clenched fists. The seed falling to the ground to die. The failure to build a mighty tower reaching to heaven. For every few steps we progress, God reveals how many miles we have yet to go. So let us persevere in offering a sacrifice of surrender, for the salvation of our own souls and for those around us.
What does poverty of spirit mean? It is my awareness that I cannot save myself, that I am basically defenseless, that neither money nor power will spare me from suffering and death’¦.Poverty of spirit is my awareness that I need God’s help and mercy more than I need anything else. Poverty of spirit is getting free of the rule of fear, fear being the great force that restrains us from acts of love. Being poor in spirit means letting go of the myth that the more I possess, the happier I’ll be. It is an outlook summed up in a French proverb: “When you die you carry in your clutched hand only what you gave away.” Poverty of spirit is letting go of self and of all that keeps you locked in yourself.
Thank you Jesus, for bringing me this far. In your light, I see the light of my life. Your teaching is brief and to the point. You persuade us to trust in our Heavenly Father. You command us to love one another. What is easier than to believe in God? What is sweeter than to love him? Your yoke is pleasant, your burden is light. You promise everything to those who obey your teaching. You ask nothing that is too hard for a believer, nothing a lover can refuse. Your promises to your disciples are true; nothing but the truth. Thank you Jesus, now and always. Amen
– St. Nicholas of Cusa
Into the heads of our remote ancestors was the idea that they could ‘be like gods’ – could set up on their own as if they had created themselves – be their own masters – invent some sort of happiness for themselves outside God, apart from God. And out of that hopeless attempt has come nearly all that we call human history – money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery – the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God to make him happy. The reason why it can never succeed is this: God made us, invented us as a man invents an engine. A car is made to run on gasoline, and it would not run properly on anything else. Now God designed the human machine to run on Himself. He Himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn, or the food our spirits were designed to feed on. There is no other. That is why it is just no good asking God to make us happy in our own way without bothering about religion. God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.