O Lady, Our Lord has become our brother and our Savior.
Like the flame in the burning bush, and the dew in the fleece: the Word of
God descends into thee forever.
The Holy Spirit hath made thee fruitful: the power of the Most High hath overshadowed thee.
Blessed be thy most pure conception: blessed be thy virginal bringing forth.
Blessed be the purity of thy body: blessed be the sweetness of the mercy of thy heart.
Glory be to the Father, etc.
-St. Bonaventure, Psalter of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Psalm 8
‘And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent from Jerusalem priests and Levites to him, to ask him: Who art thou? And he confessed and did not deny: and he confessed: I am not the Christ.’
[Jn 1:19–20 (D-R)]
John the Baptist’s self identity was simply ‘I am not the Christ.’ Who are you? Not the Christ.
There is a strong human tendency to believe that I am the Christ, and it is expressed in the most materialistic and most “spiritual” tendencies of humanity. I think as if I am the solution/saviour of the world.
I am not the Christ.
I suppose I have to do it myself, figure out the problems, answer the questions, heal the wounds. Either because I am so very good and holy, or because I am all we’ve got. Either way, it is the same essential pride.
I am not the Christ.
I am not the solution. I am not the answer. I am not the saviour.
I am not the Christ.
The truth is, I am the problem; I am the question; I am the… savee? [is there a word for one in need of saving?]
Jesus is the Christ, and I am the one in need of the Christ.
Because I am the problem, I will be solved. Because I am the question, I will be answered. Because I mourn, I will laugh. Because I am poor, I will be rich. Because I am not the Christ, I can receive the Christ entirely.
I am not the Christ.
This is what Christian holiness is. It is an absolute refusal to look to our own strength, wisdom, or goodness, which are each less than nothing, and instead abandoning ourselves entirely to God. He alone is our strength, our wisdom, and our goodness.
We are united to Him, because we are not Him. If we are not Him, we will be One with Him, as the Father and the Son are One. If we are Him, we will be utterly apart from Him.
Who am I? I am not the Christ.
God bless you.
is that I don’t need to pray well, or pray right, or pray holily, because there’s someone else who I know can and will do it for me. My prayers don’t need to be anything special, because I’m not relying on myself.
This is how all prayer should be: trusting the One who hears our prayers, and not the one who says them, or how they are said. The annoying thing is, when I try to do this, all too often I try to pray well, by trying not to try–stupid, right? Hopefully, as I learn more of God’s goodness, I’ll look less and less to myself and more and more to God.
It’s a fantastic thing, knowing that you’re part of the communion of the saints, and that there’s a whole army of angels and saints who always have your back. We never walk alone. We always have others to rely on.
I think God gives us the saints like He gave us Jesus, because we tend towards fearing and hiding from God, not trusting His merciful love. Saints can understand me, so I can trust them not to judge me. God is even better than His saints, but He reveals this through them, letting them incarnate His mercy.
God bless you!
I’m always looking for the best book for me to read next, so I thought I’d “do unto others” and share my top book recommendations. I figured the best way to distinguish the cream of the crop, is the standard of giving a standing ovation (if the book were a play…) I’ve made a rough list of about 17 so far, but I’ll share them bit by bit, in no particular order.
This is a genuinely extraordinary book… It has transformed my ideas of Catholicism and the whole universe. I wish that I could explain it, but it’s just too much. It touches on some crazy ideas from science, and I guess is perhaps the beginning of a new Christian Cosmology, that’s been largely lacking ever since Galileo and Newton destroyed the mediaeval Cosmology. But it’s more than that… It’s a renewed Christological Cosmology and a Cosmological Christology.
Bonaventure – The Major Life of St Francis
Nothing has made the gospel seem so clear to me as the life of St Francis, and this book especially. Bonaventure uses Francis’ life to teach us the ways and power of true holiness and virtue, and shows us St Francis in his uncompromised madness. St Francis is fairly called a “second Christ”.
St Therese of Lisieux – The Story of a Soul
This is possibly my favourite book of all. St Therese’s life is, on the face of it, very boring. In terms of events, there’s very little of significance. But what it has, is an extraordinary relationship of total surrender to God’s merciful love. This book teaches the true way of salvation, not by our own strength, but entirely by God’s merciful love.
And once you’ve read this, read My Sister Saint Therese, by the saint’s sister Celine. It’s a collection of recollections, that show Therese from another angle, from someone so close to her.
Let me know your thoughts if you’ve read any of these, and or any books that you’d give a standing ovation.
God loves sinners.
I think this is a lot easier to accept when the sinner in question isn’t myself. When I’m the sinner, I find it impossible to accept that God really loves me, and can’t help hiding from God and trying to earn my way back into His good graces. Which I also know I can’t do.
Basically, God has to batter me down with His tenderness, to accept His merciful love. It’s impossible for me, but not for Him. The most I can do is ask Him to do this.
When we sin, we are in a state of sin, and live by the logic of sin, which is entirely incapable of understanding God’s grace and mercy. We think God is like us, judging and measuring up and seeking to exploit his friends and crush his enemies. Like Adam and Eve, we hide from God, because love doesn’t make sense to us.
Somehow God breaks through. I am put in His presence, and His merciful love breaks me down. In fact, it crucifies me. The heart of stone is shattered, and I’m set free, made alive again.
But it’s not about becoming “righteous”… In fact, I think that when I’m no longer the sinner that’s being crucified by His merciful love, I’m back in the logic of sin, and will soon commit a sin that makes that clear. Christian holiness is God’s own life in an unworthy sinner, and once we’re “worthy”, we’ve kicked Him out.
Lord Jesus Christ, son of the living God, have mercy on me, a sinner. Amen
Our whole universe was spoken into existence by God. We live on the tip of His tongue. Creation is a song that God freely sings into being 1 .
Everything that is, is a revelation of God, because every creation speaks of its creator. Therefore creation is theology. God-words. And in fact, it is God’s own theology.
This includes you and me. We are each of us a God-uttered theology. But if we’re so special already what is left for us to do? To become what we already are 2 .
Each and every one of us is a theology by existing at all, and a theologian because we must engage with the world. We must listen to the theology all around us, and by our lives speak theology also (and when necessary, use words3).
The below song made me think all of this, mainly because I love it and wanted to share it, and needed some justification. Hope you enjoy!
1. St. Bonaventure
2. St. Augustine
3. St. Francis
‘We need to remember that “contemplation of the face of Jesus, died and risen, restores our humanity, even when it has been broken by the troubles of this life or marred by sin. We must not domesticate the power of the face of Christ”. So let me ask you: Are there moments when you place yourself quietly in the Lord’s presence, when you calmly spend time with him, when you bask in his gaze? Do you let his fire inflame your heart? Unless you let him warm you more and more with his love and tenderness, you will not catch fire. How will you then be able to set the hearts of others on fire by your words and witness? If, gazing on the face of Christ, you feel unable to let yourself be healed and transformed, then enter into the Lord’s heart, into his wounds, for that is the abode of divine mercy.’
-Gaudete et Exsultate n. 151
‘Hope is a gift of God. We must ask for it. It is placed deep within each human heart in order to shed light on this life, so often troubled and clouded by so many situations that bring sadness and pain. We need to nourish the roots of our hope so that they can bear fruit; primarily, the certainty of God’s closeness and compassion, despite whatever evil we have done. There is no corner of our heart that cannot be touched by God’s love. Whenever someone makes a mistake, the Father’s mercy is all the more present, awakening repentance, forgiveness, reconciliation and peace.’
[Taken from Happiness In This Life: A Passionate Meditation On Material Existence And The Meaning Of Life]