Poor in Spirit

How do we save the Church?

How do we save the Roman Catholic Church? It doesn’t take much to see it’s having a crisis, at least in the West. Everyone seems to have an answer to this question. It was only a matter of time before I had to weigh in, so, here it is:

We don’t

We don’t save the Roman Catholic Church. I don’t have it in me to give life to the Church. Nor does any idea, any form of music or liturgy, or any programme. Jesus Christ is the life of the Church, and He alone is her saviour.

So… how do we save the Church? We don’t save the Church, the Church saves us. And this is our problem today: we don’t let the Church save us- we don’t let it give us Jesus. We’re the problem!

It’s not this silly priest, that senile Bishop, those clueless cardinals, or even our wonderful Pope Francis. It’s us–me and you–not accepting Jesus and chasing after Him with all our strength that is the problem. We’re not taking advantage of all the ways Jesus comes to us through His body, the Church, to recreate us in Him. We’re not chasing after sainthood.

‘How do we save the Church?’ Every answer is correct (well… nearly), and every answer is wrong, because in every answer we can find Jesus, and because every answer is not Jesus. It’s not what we need to do, it’s who we do it with and for.

There’s no hope in any of our reforms or programmes, or the chariots of Egypt! The people of God cannot hope in the strength of men. Not one of our clever schemes will save us. We can’t idolise the works of God.

I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing… As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love…  This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.’

[John 15:5,9-10,12]

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“Francis, go rebuild my Church, which you see is falling into ruins.”

What I’m saying is, we need to become saints! At the risk of sounding fanatical, saints are the solution to every real problem in the Church and the world, because Jesus alone is the solution. Jesus alone is the life of the world!

How can we receive God? How do we become saints? We have to encounter Jesus, and as we encounter Him, we become an encounter with Him. We need to rediscover, over and over and over, God’s love for us and our hearts response of love for Him, and we need to submit to this love of God. And submitting to the love of God, we must seek the love of God everywhere.

We have to let go of everything that is not Jesus, even the holy things which brought us Jesus in the past. When we become attached to anything, it destroys our poverty of spirit, and we become complacent, self-righteous, and closed to the Kingdom of God. We can trust our good deeds over the one who gives the grace to do them. We can trust our praying rather than Him we pray to. We can even fall by trusting in our receiving communion, rather than trusting Jesus-Host Himself.

I’m saying we must chase after the love of God with all our might, knowing that we can never pin Him down and capture Him. With all our hearts, all our souls, all our strength and all our minds, we must receive and submit to the uncontrollable love of God. We must let go of every attachment, every possession, every illusion of control we hold so dearly, so that we can give Him control.

When we do this, as individuals and as communities, then we will see the Kingdom of God coming, within and amongst us.

Pray for me, and God bless you!

 

Letting go of my blog

[Previously ‘Renouncing my blog’, but then I looked up renouncing and found it didn’t mean what I wanted]

Sometimes, my blog brings me trouble. I find that mid thinking, or reading, or praying, the thought comes: ‘Ooh! I could write a post on this.’ And if I’m not on my guard, I might start planning it out, coming up with my clever points and witty expressions. And then, I try to actually write it, and it sucks. It’s forced, and you can tell. Meanwhile, my thinking, reading and praying have been ruined by the distraction, and I’m left without peace.

The problem is, I become attached to my blog. Often, writing a post has brought me great joy and fulfilment, which is great! Often it’s a deep spiritual joy. But when I become attached to these feelings, and desire my happiness, my success, they become poisonous. I’m no longer writing for the sake of what I’m writing/for God, and it becomes full of effort and self, and therefore lifeless. Meanwhile, I find no happiness or fulfilment, because these come from God alone.

I can’t write for self and for God. If I’m attached to anything finite, I’m constrained from the infinite.

We must be detached from everything, even spiritual pleasure, even the service of God, because they aren’t God. ‘God alone is good.’

So, I have to renounce Blogging. I’m not quitting, but I am giving it up to God.

How do I do this? I have to accept that nothing that matters is in my power, except to love God; then I have to love God, and let Him do what He wants with me and my blog.

‘Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. Let it be done to me according to your word.’

God bless you!

St. Therese of Lisieux

St. Therese is my favourite Saint (except of course Mary, my mother), or more accurately, my best friend in heaven. I love her deeply, and thought I would give her a brief introduction, so you might discover or rediscover her.

The funny thing about St. Therese, is it’s difficult to say if she’s very ordinary or extraordinary. She clearly thought of herself as completely ordinary. But this ordinary young nun has made a truly extraordinary impact on the world, and on those she personally knew. Of all the unlikely people to change the world, few are as out of the blue as her. Perhaps the carpenter’s son…

And it’s just this paradox of the extraordinary ordinary that characterises her. Her greatness doesn’t lie in any special talents or abilities or genius. She performed no great feats or miracles. To all human eyes, she was not made for greatness. But God doesn’t judge by our standards, and like the little King David, she had a heart after the Lord’s own heart.

She is extraordinary only because of her extraordinary love and trust in Jesus. That is all she had, but that’s all we need, and all that counts.

So please, get to know St. Therese of Lisieux, the Little Flower. Her autobiography, ‘The Story of a Soul’, is available for free online, although you’ll want a copy once you read it. There’s a very good reason she’s been called the greatest Saint of modern times, and a favourite of Bl. Mother Teresa and Pope Francis, among many others.

For some time I had been accustomed to offer myself as a plaything to the Child Jesus. I told Him not to treat me like an expensive toy which children look at but dare not touch. I was a cheap little ball which He could fling on the ground or kick or pierce or leave neglected in a corner or even press to His Heart if it gave Him pleasure. To put it in a nutshell, I longed to amuse the little Jesus and offer myself to His childish whims.

He answered my prayer. In Rome, Jesus pierced His little toy. He wantedto see what was inside and then, having found out, He let His little ball drop and went to sleep. What did He dream about and what happened to the abandoned ball? Jesus dreamt that He was still playing with it, picking it up and dropping it, letting it roll away from Him, but in the end pressing it close to His Heart and never letting it slip again from His little Hand. You can understand, Mother, how sad the little ball was to see itself lying on the ground, but she went on hoping against all hope.

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God bless you

 

The struggle for prayer

‘The struggle for prayer is not an easy one. The spirit fluctuates — sometimes prayer flows in us like a mighty river, sometimes the heart dries up. But every reduction in our prayer-strength must be as brief as possible. To pray not infrequently means telling God of our disastrous state: of our weakness and despondency, our doubts and fears, the melancholy, the despair — in brief, everything connected with our condition. To pour it all out, not seeking to express it elegantly or even in logical sequence. Often this method of approach to God turns out to be the beginning of prayer as communion.’
– Elder Sophrony of Essex – On Prayer

Jesus rejected

Jesus was laid in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. Before he had even been born, he was being rejected. And this was the way throughout his entire life, culminating in his crucifixion. He often offended those with any authority, position, or respectability, and was, by the usual measure of influence, a failure. Everyone who was anyone had something against him. It was with the failures, the useless, and the rejects, the poor, the disabled, and the unrighteous, that Jesus was accepted.

Why? I believe it is Jesus’ generosity and meekness. Jesus gave himself so unreservedly, that he was truly free. He wasn’t aiming for any repayment, and so his gifts were entirely his own, and for his own purposes. When he preached, it wasn’t to gain followers to satisfy his vanity or desire for power, but simply to bless, liberate and save whoever would listen. By his life and teaching, he presented in complete freedom, the truly good life; and so his perfect generosity, was completely demanding.

No matter how rich, powerful, or respectable you might be, there is no way you could bribe or lobby Jesus; and nothing made them feel so powerless. All who considered themselves rich, whether by wealth, power, or even righteousness before God, found this man a mad fool, driven by demons to be in all ways poor and lowly, when he might be great and rich. And his staunch and mindless poverty, by its disregard weakened their own richness, and was spreading to all the lowly of the world.

The only people who would accept Jesus, were those who knew themselves to be truly poor, with no hope of buying this man. Only the poor can truly accept a gift. And so Jesus was sent to the poor, the lame, the blind, the prostitutes, the sinners and tax collectors, to welcome them, to be most truly and uncontrollably theirs.

‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.’ Matthew 5:3

When Jesus was dying upon the cross, it was only the man dying beside him who asked to be remembered, and was then promised to be with him paradise. Only those with nothing but the mercy of others, can accept a crucified saviour. For anyone else, he is too ugly, too messy, too weak.

Yet, even nailed to the cross, he is radically free, because he is always giving. In his injuries he gives forgiveness, in his suffering he gives love, in his death he gives life. He accepts the crucifixion meekly, but then blesses it with the resurrection. He enters all weakness, and provides God’s creative strength. As St. Francis said,

Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, let me sow pardon.
Where there is doubt, let me sow faith.
Where there is despair, let me sow hope.
Where there is darkness, let me sow light.
Where there is sadness, let me sow joy.

And so we may see the truth of Jesus’ words,

‘Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.’ Mt 5:5

It is the meek, the undemanding, who are truly free, and shall truly liberate. They are rejected, and they are lowly, but they scatter their seed freely, and it bears fruit. They live love, and the lowly learn love from them, and the world is transformed from its base. In the midst of their rejection, they build solidarity; In sin, they forgive; In division they bring unity; In conflict they make peace; In hatred they love; and in all things, they bear the almighty God, who to bring down the powerful from their thrones and uplift the lowly (Lk 1:52) was incarnate, born as a baby, and laid in a manger.

Lord, reveal to me my poverty, and teach me your meekness.

God bless you

As a little child

I’ve decided to change the name of this blog from, ‘JRahi’s words’ to, ‘As a little child’. In Mark’s gospel, Jesus says,

Suffer the little children to come unto me and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Amen I say to you, whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall not enter into it. [Mark 10:14-15]

When I was a child, I found these words very exciting and encouraging, and firmly decided that I would remain a child forever. Looking back, I wonder if such a joyful, confident and simple decision is a perfect example of receiving the kingdom as a child. I saw, I rejoiced, and I grasped.

I’m not sure how well I followed up that decision. I believe there were periods in my childhood of horrible, unchildlike pride. But I seriously value my childhood because of this verse, and trust greatly in my childish wisdom (it was when I tried to be wise like grown-ups that I became proud and foolish).

So I’m changing the name to ‘As a little child’, as a reminder of my decision and my call to always be a little child before God. The great danger of religion is pride. The grown-up way of learning is to listen, and then craftily deny in such a way that it looks as if you are accepting. But children listen in simplicity and accept. The grown-up way places barriers everywhere, forbidding people to come to Jesus, and limiting his grace. The childish way accepts, loves, and follows, and takes the hands of loved ones to lead them to him.

So I’m changing the name to rebuke my pride, and to recall the heart of the gospel. Please pray with me that it will do so, and that this blog will serve God under its new name.

Thank you and God bless you.