Spirituality

Marian Consecration

Today I began 33 days of preparation to consecrate myself to Mary, following St Louis de Montfort’s instructions, and ending with consecration on the feast of the Presentation of Mary. I’ve done the consecration before on the same feast, and am renewing the consecration this time. Please pray for me, that I will give myself fully and hold nothing back.

Marian consecration is one of the most beautiful of all the devotions in the Church. It is perhaps the summit of all true spirituality.

We consecrate ourselves to Mary, because she is perfectly consecrated to God, and we wish to be united to Mary in her consecration. I once wrote the following:

‘God gave Himself to us by giving Himself to Mary. We are saved through God giving Himself to Mary in Jesus Christ, and through Mary’s “yes”, her giving herself up to God in Jesus Christ. God gave Himself through Mary, and we must receive God, be given up to God, through Mary’s “yes”.’ (https://asalittlechild.wordpress.com/2018/11/12/marys-teaching/)

I really want to double down on this point. We are saved through Mary’s fiat to God. When she said yes at the annunciation, she said yes on behalf of the whole universe, welcoming Jesus into creation. To be saved is to be united to Mary in saying yes, in surrendering and consecrating ourselves to God and welcoming Jesus to be conceived in us.

And this yes, this surrender and consecration and welcome, are simply who Mary is, through and through. From the first moment of her existence, her Immaculate Conception, she was claimed wholly for God. And at every moment following she gave herself wholly to God. We can see this in the annunciation, but also in every single Marian feast: God has claimed her entirely for His own, and she gives herself entirely to Him. The entirety of her being is caught up in loving God back. She is love returning love. To be saved is to be united to Mary.

Please pray for me to make this consecration well.

God bless you

Set your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are upon the earth

Is prayer a form of escape from the world? Is that the ultimate aim of Christian life – to leave this world behind and instead to dwell with God in heaven? Are we to live for the next life, and not for the present life?

Well, yes and no.

Yes, because we are made for God and for eternal life, and we must renounce all finite distractions that would keep us from Him. Our destiny is the fullness of life in God Himself and nothing less. We are told again and again to deny ourselves, to renounce the world, and to live for God alone. We must not fall into thinking that prayer or spirituality or the Christian faith are concerned primarily with improving this world and this life. The Christian faith has a far larger vision.

‘If then ye were raised together with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated on the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are upon the earth. For ye died, and your life is hid with Christ in God.’ [Colossians 3:1-3]

But no, because Jesus came to save the world. He didn’t come to save us out of the world, He came to redeem the entirety of creation with us in it.

‘For the creation was subjected to vanity, not of its own will, but by reason of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the liberty of the glory of the children of God.’ [Romans 8:20-21]

So then, how can we have both yes and no? We save the world with Jesus, but only in renouncing it with Him. ‘Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it: and whosoever shall lose it shall preserve it.’ [Lk 17:33] In the same way, whoever seeks to save the world will lose the world, but whoever shall renounce the world will save it.

Jesus saves us and saves the world by the sacrifice He made upon the cross, present at every mass. In this sacrifice, He renounces absolutely everything, His life, His body, His soul, everything He loves and cares for (including you and me), offering it all to the Father. It is in this offering that we are saved. We are sinners, and do not have the purity of heart to truly offer ourselves to God, except by being united to Jesus’s own self offering.

This is the goal of Christian life and the heart of Christian prayer and spirituality. We renounce ourselves and the whole world, and offer it all up to God, united to Jesus’s offering upon the cross. Or to express it differently, we let go of our selves, of every finite thing, of every desire to control and possess and consume, and we entrust it all to God, to Him who is eternal love, uniting ourselves and all the cosmos to the holy sacrifice of the mass.

So then, what does this renunciation and salvation look like? For now, it looks like loving the world, but refusing to grasp at it, even in thought. It looks like placing ourselves and everything in our lives into Love’s everlasting hands. And in the end, it looks like the resurrection of the entire universe.

God bless you.

‘The Lord will fight for you, and you must be silent’

Those who still fear the war against the passions and dread the assaults of invisible enemies must keep silent in their struggle for virtue they must not enter into disputes with their enemies but through prayer must entrust all anxiety about themselves to God. To them apply the words of Exodus: ‘The Lord will fight for you, and you must be silent’ (Exod. 14:14). Those, secondly, who have been released from the enemy’s attacks and who genuinely seek instruction in the ways of acquiring the virtues, need only to keep the ear of their mind open. To them Scripture says, ‘Hear Israel’ (Deut. 6:4). Thirdly, those who as a result of their purification ardently long for divine knowledge may commune with God freely. To them it will be said, ‘What is it that you are calling to Me?’ (Exod. 14:15. LXX). Thus, he who is commanded to keep silent because of his fear should seek refuge in God; he who is commanded to listen should be ready to obey the commandments; and he who pursues spiritual knowledge should call ceaselessly to God, beseeching Him for deliverance from evil and thanking Him for communion in His blessings.’

[St Maximus the Confessor, ‘Two Hundred Texts on Theology and the Incarnate Dispensation of the Son of God’, no. 30]

I will look at just the first point, because I know I’m not one of those who have been released from the enemy’s attacks, so this is probably the most important for myself.

Many spiritual writers have written about how, in the battle against sin, we must not trust in ourselves at all but trust entirely in God, and never argue with the devils that are tempting us. In fact, some say that we fall precisely because we begin to trust in ourselves, and so God allows us to fall so that we will learn to distrust ourselves and trust in Him.

Through prayer we must entrust all anxiety about ourselves to God. The truth is that we are not strong enough in ourselves, but He is more than strong enough. It is absurdity for us to try to be self sufficient, self supporting, self made, when God desires to be our all. We should entrust all to Him, and let Him take care of us, especially in the spiritual battle.

We have to learn to let go. We have to learn how to fight by not fighting. We have to learn silence. We have to learn to trust in God alone, and not in our learning or our trusting or our virtue or our strength or our systems. Trust in God alone.

Saints are not people who have mastered themselves or their own lives, they are people who entrust all anxiety about themselves to God.

God bless you

Loving the unknowable God

All good Catholic theology and philosophy acknowledge that God is beyond knowing. He is utterly beyond our understanding, and beyond every concept we could ever come up with. It is to the point that, according to St Thomas Aquinas, we don’t even know what it means when we say that God exists.

So then, how are we supposed to love the Lord with all our hearts, minds, souls and strength? How can we love what we cannot know? What would such a love even look like?

To love is to desire the good of the other. That is, it is to desire the good that the other themselves are, to desire them to exist more fully, to come into their perfection and fulness. It also includes the desire of this good for ourselves.

What can we know of God? We know God as He reveals Himself, firstly in creation, in which every creature reflects something of God; secondly in the inspired scriptures, in which we see God moving and hear God speaking throughout history; thirdly in His Son, Jesus Christ, the fulness of God’s self revelation and action in history. And yet, all of this revelation does not negate the truth that God is completely beyond our power to know. So what does all of this revelation even reveal?

It tells us that God is love. That creation is loved into being, and exists as a reflection of His boundless goodness. That He cares for us, and moves within our history. That He is totally with us, joined in our joys and sufferings, giving Himself to us entirely.

We cannot grasp what God is. In fact, God is not a what at all. We cannot grasp Him because He is perfect self emptying love, pouring Himself out through all of eternity. You try to grasp Him and He has already gone, already fully emptied. We only know that He is, because we see how He fills up everything else.

So what is it to love the unknowable God? It is to desire His love to be fully expressed and received, both within ourselves and within all of creation. It is to surrender ourselves to His love for us, and be immersed in and transformed into His indiscriminate love for us all.

God bless you!

Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us.

[1 John 4:7-12]

Merry Christmas! (sorry it’s late)

Sorry for the recent radio silence. There’s no particular reason for it.

I just thought I’d deliver the yearly reminder that on Christmas day, approximately 2,019 years ago, God was born amongst us as a teeny tiny baby. Almighty God hid Himself in the Blessed Virgin’s womb. The Lord God of Hosts was wrapped in swaddling bands. The creator of the universe was nestled up in Joseph’s arms.

It’s true that this post has missed the big day, but the magi are running later still! The divine babe is still newborn, and hasn’t even received His name yet.

We shouldn’t shy away from the absurdity of the Incarnation. Who in their right mind would ever worship a newborn (or even, unborn) baby as the omnipotent creator of all? What kind of God would genuinely become a human, with all of our weakness and suffering and vulnerability? The God who is love would.

Love unites the lover to the beloved. Love condescends. Love is vulnerable. Love is weak. Love is small. Love is dependent. Love is almighty.

God is not a philanthropist, trying to better everyone’s lives from the outside: He is the lover of us, and desires to give Himself to us entirely. He loves us!

Can you imagine if we loved Him like He loves us? Can you imagine how differently we would live? Can you imagine how happy we would be?

May the Christchild bless you!

My life is not important

“What if my life isn’t important?”

This question came to me a few weeks ago, and I realised, of course it’s not important! Why would I assume that it was? How did I acquire such absurd and unjustified pride?

We can’t all be a “big deal”. Not even most of us can – there’s not enough space for so many big deals. So, what if in the course of my life, I don’t ever become a big deal? Who cares?

Why in the world would I care about being important? It doesn’t appear that many others do. At least no one else seems to have assumed they would be. It seems I’ve been thinking of myself in terms of how history will view me. But that’s not who I really am at all.

If my life is unimportant, does this mean my life is meaningless? No. But the meaning of life is no more than to live and to live fully. My purpose is not something outside of me.

We don’t have a mission from God – we are a mission from God. My mission is not to do something, but to be who I am and who I’m made to be. Our mission, our meaning, is to let God love us into being what we already are: His children. He asks nothing at all from us except ourselves. As Mother Teresa said “God has not called me to be successful; He has called me to be faithful.” St Therese understood this too, knowing herself as a worthless but beloved toy in the hands of the child Jesus, while also knowing that she would become a great Saint.

If God wills that we should become a “big deal”, even then it doesn’t really matter. No matter how “important” we may become, this will never be our purpose. To speak tongues and move mountains and work miracles without love is worthless. All of our importance is just grass in the fields, here today and gone tomorrow. Even work done for God, the only work that lasts, is entirely and solely His; our part is merely that of a child, in their father’s workshop, carefully guided and protected and supported at each step. We were allowed to cooperate by His grace, and should rejoice in that, but we are still just children at play.

‘The rose is without “why”; it blooms simply because it blooms. It pays no attention to itself, nor does it ask whether anyone sees it.’ – Angelius Silesius

God bless you!

The only sin is failing to trust God

Holiness means abandoning yourself to God. If we look at the life of any saint and ask what makes him/her a saint, we will always find it is because they handed themselves over to God, placing themselves in His hands and not their own. This abandonment of self is what drove St. Francis’s poverty, St. Ignatius’s obedience, St. Therese’s confidence, the chastity of the holy virgins, the courage of the martyrs, Mary’s fiat, and Jesus’s whole life and death upon the cross.

I don’t think there is anything more to it. We must abandon ourselves entirely to Him: our desires, our wills, our happiness, our security, our struggles, our fears, our loved ones, our futures, our pasts, our weaknesses, our strengths, our ideas, our beliefs, our good deeds, our sins, our salvation, and our everything else. That is it. Everything else is contained in this.

If we fail, then we must get up right away, and hand this failure over to Him also. We have to entrust to Him our failures to trust Him. Place everything right away in the hands of His merciful love.

And if we fall greatly, over and over again, we still can’t be discouraged. The only sin is failure to trust God. His mercy is always greater; He is always trustworthy; He is our Father, and we are His children.

In this self-abandonment, we are surrendered to God’s love for us revealed upon the cross, and we are united to Jesus’s total abandonment to the Father upon the cross.

God bless you!

Standing in a waterfall, looking up

He is a waterfall.

He empties Himself every moment,

and is superabundantly full.

He is high up above,

and He is drilling to the depths.

He is always in motion,

always a gift.

He falls down,

and He bursts out.

He is the living water.

Who are we?

We are standing in the waterfall

looking up

and losing ourselves,

drowned under the current.