Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

8/27/2014 (10 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

One of the greatest joys in this later chapter of my life is an unexpected gift, his name is Noah. He is my grandson. He calls me Poppi. He is seven years old and so very wise. Noah continually confronts me with the utter simplicity, trust, openness and beauty of the spiritual childhood to which Jesus is pointing in this passage - and so many others in the Gospels. The way of spiritual childhood is a theme woven throughout the New Testament. In John's first letter he writes - See what love the father has given us that we should be called children of God, and so we are. (1 John 3:1)

Highlights

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

8/27/2014 (10 months ago)

Published in Living Faith

Keywords: spiritual childhood, simplicity, freedom, contemplative, contemplation, meditation, St Josemaria Escriva, Deacon Keith Fournier


CHESAPEAKE, VA (Catholic Online) - "Children were brought to Jesus that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked them, but Jesus said, "Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them; for the Kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." After he placed his hands on them, he went away." (Mt. 19:13-15)

Nestled between the account of the Lord's response to the Pharisees who tested Him concerning the indissolubility of marriage and apostolic celibacy (Mt. 19:3-12) and the story of the young man whom he called to His service who, because he was possessed by his possessions, went away sad (Mt. 19:16-22,) Matthew inserts this beautiful encounter between Jesus and the children.

The connection is of great importance to anyone who wants to know, love and serve the Lord in real freedom. In the chapter which precedes the account, Matthew records these words of the Lord, "I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.  Whoever humbles himself like this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven."

One of the greatest joys in this later chapter of my life is an unexpected gift, his name is Noah. He is my grandson. He calls me Poppi. He is seven years old and so very wise.

Noah continually confronts me with the utter simplicity, trust, openness and beauty of the spiritual childhood to which Jesus is pointing in this passage - and so many others in the Gospels.

The way of spiritual childhood is a theme woven throughout the New Testament. In John's first letter he writes, "See what love the father has given us that we should be called children of God, and so we are." (1 John 3:1)

This passage points us to the truth of our divine filiation - a fundamental teaching of the Christian faith. We are inserted into the Trinitarian communion of love. We are adopted sons and daughters in the Son.

In and through Jesus Christ, we truly are sons and daughters of God.

St. Escriva often wrote of the way of spiritual childhood. In The Way he encourages us - Try to know the 'way of spiritual childhood' without forcing yourself to follow this path. Let the holy Spirit work in you.(The Way, #852)

When Jesus taught us to pray, He taught us to call God "Abba" (Mt. 6:9), the affectionate Aramaic word for Father.  Before he ascended He told Mary to return and tell His brothers "I am ascending to my Father and your Father." (Jn. 20:17)

To become like little children, to be child-like and not childish, requires a change of heart. That is what conversion is about. Such a change of heart will transform the way we live because it transforms the way we love.

The great Bishop Ambrose, who baptized Augustine, along with his son Adeodatus, on the Easter Vigil in 387, wrote concerning this in a commentary on Luke's Gospel (Lk. 18:17):

"Why is it that children are eligible for the kingdom of heaven? Perhaps it is because, ordinarily, there is no malice in them. They don't know how to lie. They don't lie to themselves. They have no desire for luxury. They aren't drawn to riches. They are uninterested in ambition. But the virtue herein lies, not in what they lack interest in, or know nothing about, but in what they don't want to do. The virtue lies not in their inability to sin, but in their unwillingness to sin."

I have a wonderful grandson named Noah. He teaches me. He shows me again the joy of play. He always trusts that his needs will be taken care of. He delights in the simplest of gifts and laughs out of the sheer joy of just being alive. He is wise.

He shows me the virtue called simplicity; a virtue which is harder to cultivate as life goes on. Yet, cultivate it we must, if we want to live in the kingdom.

One of my favorite writers is Chiara Lubich, the foundress of the Focalare movement. In one of her reflections on the Lord's teaching that we are all called to spiritual childhood, she offered this insight:

"Being at the start of life, the child is open to any adventure. So it should be with you. Don't put any obstacles in the way of your progressive union with Christ, a progress which should continue throughout your whole life."

As I grow older, things become simpler. Left behind with the years was some of my propensity to complicate things.

Oh, don't get me wrong, I have a long way to go. Having been with those preparing for death in my work as a Deacon of the Church, I have discovered that, in a recollected person of faith, prayer before death is the most revealing.

No longer burdened with the concerns of "this world", such prayer becomes simple.  Simple souls see God. Simple souls live as children, trusting their Father.

There is an invitation to simplicity in Gods loving plan for each of our lives. Living simply can help us to see things differently. To those who voluntarily embrace it, simplicity becomes a means of grace, an invitation to love, and a school of sanctity.

All relationships, with persons as well as with the goods of the earth, are changed by its embrace. My grandson Noah teaches me this way. Oh, he does not do so with intentionality, but with the beautiful spontaneity of love so evident in children.

I have found that the admonition of Jesus, "Unless you become as a little child, you shall not enter the kingdom of God" (Mt. 18:13) is an invitation to freedom. In the light of simple faith, even painful experiences become the material for our personal transformation and enable us to open ourselves more to the fullness of life.

Through simple surrender to the loving plan of God, we are continually invited to go deeper into communion with God and respond to His loving gaze. In this communion with God, fear dissipates and everything is bathed in love. After all, when all is stripped away, there is only God.

In His Sacred Humanity, prepared for death, the Lord Jesus prayed for each of us "May they be one, as you Father are in me and I am in you." The words of this prayer reveal the simple heart of God. They also unfold the purpose and final goal of human existence; we are all called to love. 

The way of spiritual childhood is the path to peace. It leads into an ever deepening, intimate, loving relationship with God the Father, through the Son and in the Holy Spirit. In this loving communion we enter into a new relationship with all men and women and creation itself. We now live in Him and He lives in us.

Contemplatives comprehend, or rather, are comprehended by this experience of communion. They literally fall in love with God. All Christians are called to contemplation, no matter what their state in life, their job, or their place in society.

The way of spiritual childhood is the way into contemplation. Let us walk the path and find the joy of divine filiation as sons and daughters of God. Jesus truly liberates us and makes us new, when we become like little children. 

 -----

Deacon Keith Fournier is Founder and Chairman of Common Good Foundation and Common Good Alliance. A married Roman Catholic Deacon of the Diocese of Richmond, Virginia, he and his wife Laurine have five grown children and six grandchildren, He serves as the Director of Adult Faith Formation at St. Stephen, Martyr Parish in Chesapeake, VA. He is also a human rights lawyer and public policy advocate.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for June 2015
Universal:
That immigrants and refugees may find welcome and respect in the countries to which they come.
Evangelization: That the personal encounter with Jesus may arouse in many young people the desire to offer their own lives in priesthood or consecrated life.


Rosaries, Crosses, Prayer Cards and more... by Catholic Shopping .com


Comments


More Living Faith

Learning from Elijah: Shipwreck, Struggle and the Broom Tree

Image of Elijah under the broom tree

By Deacon Keith Fournier

There are lessons that can only be learned under the broom tree. The lesson St Paul gave to the early Christians in Greece about the reality of being shipwrecked and experiencing daily struggles in life is critical in our age. God is searching for men and ... continue reading


Head of Russian Orthodox Church to meet with Pope Francis to repair rift between branches Watch

Image of Patriarch Kirill of Moscow is a Russian Orthodox bishop. He became Patriarch of Moscow and all Rus' and Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church in February of 2009.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It is definitely going to happen -- but where and when has yet to be decided. The head of the Russian Orthodox Church and Pope Francis have agreed to meet in an attempt to repair the major rift between the Eastern and Western branches of Christianity. LOS ... continue reading


Pope Francis explains the nature of faith - the whole Gospel is written in its light Watch

Image of Francis lamented that

By CNA/EWTN News

The Pope focused on the virtue of faith during his Sunday Angelus address, saying the whole gospel is written in its light. VATICAN CITY (CNA/EWTN News) - "Faith is this: to touch Jesus and to draw from him the grace which saves," Pope Francis explained June 28 at ... continue reading


Pope Francis admonishes archbishops to be convinced by what themselves teach Watch

Image of The Pope added that, in being witnesses to the faith, archbishops should practice what they preach.

By CNA/EWTN News

During his Mass for the feast of Saints Peter and Paul on Monday, Pope Francis called on the Church's new archbishops to be courageous witnesses who are not ashamed of Christ, and who are convinced by what they themselves teach. VATICAN CITY (CNA/EWTN News) - ... continue reading


Parents of St. Therese of Lisieux to be canonized by Pope Francis later this year Watch

Image of The canonizations of the married couple will coincide with the Synod on the Family, to be held on Oct. 4-25.

By CNA/EWTN News

Pope Francis formally approved on Saturday the decrees necessary for Blesseds Louis and Zelie Martin - known for being the parents of St. Therese of Lisieux - to be declared saints later this year. VATICAN CITY (CNA/EWTN News) - The two blesseds will be the first ... continue reading


Itinerary of the Pope's trip to Cuba and the U.S.A. and his visit to the United Nations

Image of Pope Francis boarding airline.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

VATICAN CITY - The Vatican on Tuesday released the comprehensive itinerary for Pope Francis' journey to the United States and Cuba, including his schedule for Philadelphia for Sept. 26-27.Here is the Holy Father's complete schedule for his September visit to Cuba and ... continue reading


The Ultimate Bucket List: 20 things to do before joining God in Heaven Watch

Image of Add your own bucket list goals.

By Nikky Andres (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Bucket listing has become a popular trend within social media sites and all over the world, ranging from reading best-selling books, to traveling to exotic places on holiday, favorite places to eat, enchanting tourist destinations and so forth. MUNTINLUPA, PHILIPPINES ... continue reading


Religious lawyer calls out to people of faith warning what will happen if they don't 'STAND UP' following gay marriage ruling Watch

Image of Photo credit: Dave Crenshaw - Eastern Oklahoma Catholic

By Linky C. (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Supreme Court gave in to LGBT rights advocates on June 26 and legalized same-sex marriage throughout the United States. Now the entire United States court system must recognize the union of two same-sex individuals as legal, creating a social media frenzy around ... continue reading


'Holy Grail' recovered after stolen by burglars Watch

Image of One depiction of the Holy Grail.

By Nikky Andres (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A year after it was stolen, the police finally recovered a wooden relic believed by some to be the Holy Grail. In July 2014, the invaluable medieval relic was stolen during a raid in Weston Under Penyard near Ross-on-Wye in Herefordshire. The Nanteos Cup has now been ... continue reading


Medjugorje Marian apparitions ruled FALSE? Watch

Image of According to the reports, the congregation did acknowledge Medjugorje as a place of prayer and devotion that can be visited by pilgrims for prayer, though without contacting the supposed visionaries or participating in their

By CNA/EWTN News

If reports in Italian media outlets are to be believed, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith met June 24 to discuss the alleged Marian apparitions in Medjugorje, reaching the conclusion that they are inauthentic, but recognizing the site as a place of ... continue reading


All Living Faith News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Genesis 21:5, 8-20
5 Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 34:7-8, 10-11, 12-13
7 The angel of Yahweh encamps around those who fear ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 8:28-34
28 When he reached the territory of the Gadarenes on ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for July 1st, 2015 Image

Bl. Junipero Serra
July 1: Miguel Jose Serra was born on the island of Majorca on November ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter