Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

8/27/2014 (1 month 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 (1 month 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'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for September 2014
Mentally disabled:
That the mentally disabled may receive the love and help they need for a dignified life.
Service to the poor: That Christians, inspired by the Word of God, may serve the poor and suffering.



Comments


More Living Faith

Saint Theresa of The Child Jesus: Love to The End Watch

Image of Saint Theresa of the Child Jesus: The Little Flower

By F. K. Bartels

Then, nearly ecstatic with supreme joy in my soul, I proclaimed: O Jesus, my love, at last I have found my calling: my call is love. Certainly I have found my proper place in the Church, and you gave me that very place, my God. In the heart of the Church, my mother, I ... continue reading


Tough Lessons for Real Life from the Book of Job Watch

Image of Job was right. He was living in the heart of God's will. When Job was stripped of what his fair-weather friends believed were the -proofs- of Gods favor, he found the greatest treasure of all, the beautiful poverty of purified Love. He found the richness reserved for those who love God for God's sake. Jobs fair-weather friends told him that his loss and difficulties were his fault, but Job knew better. In his unwavering hope in God's love and mercy we find the example of purified, living faith.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

When Job was stripped of what his fair-weather friends believed were the -proofs- of Gods favor, he found the greatest treasure of all, the beautiful poverty of purified Love. He found the richness reserved for those who love God for God's sake, for Love's ... continue reading


Interesting facts about the 400 years old Bom Jesus Church in India, the final resting place of St. Francis Xavier Watch

Image of The Basilica of Bom Jesus Church is more than 400 years old.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Located in Old Goa, India, the Basilica of Bom Jesus is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The foundation stone was laid on 24th November 1594, and completed on 15th May 1605. It was raised to the status of a minor Basilica in 1946 and is considered to be one of the ... continue reading


Bombing Islamic State is fueling the violence

Image of Civilians inspect the rubble of a building destroyed by Allied airstrikes in Syria. We cannot bomb our way into the hearts of people.

By Tony Magliano

We need to do something! With the barbaric Islamic State now controlling large portions of Iraq and Syria, and inflicting rape, torture and even beheading on those who do not conform to their fundamentalist interpretation of Islam, it is imperative that they must be ... continue reading


Pope Francis to try case of pedophile archbishop in Vatican court Watch

Image of Former archbishop and ambassador Josef Wesolowski is under  arrest at the Vatican.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Vatican will try one of its own for child abuse. After decades, possibly centuries of abuse and cover up, the use of the Church has a cover for pedophiles has finally ended. Former ambassador, Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski will now face trial for abusing boys he met ... continue reading


Pope Francis says to listen to God's word and put it into practice Watch

Image of During his homily at daily, the Pope urged Christians to read God's word faithfully and to truly listen with our hearts to what He has to say.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

According to Pope Francis, living the Christian life is simple: listen to God's word and put it into practice. "These are the two conditions in order to follow Jesus, hear the word of God and put it into practice. This is the Christian life, nothing more," the ... continue reading


Pope Francis appoints five women to major theological council Watch

Image of Pope Francis, who has been critical on the Catholic Church's failures to adequately include women in theological discourse, has appointed five to a major theological council that is charged with aiding the pope and others with theological policy.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The International Theological Commission, established in 1969 to study doctrinal issues faced by the Catholic Church and to help the pope and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, has just received five new female members, raising the number of female ... continue reading


Pope Francis asks new bishops to avoid self-promotion, to love their congregations instead Watch

Image of Pope Francis meets with bishops for an audience. The Holy Father had important advice for a group of new bishops yesterday.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis has admonished a new generation of bishops against seeking promotion and instead asked them to look after and love their congregations. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - During an address at the Vatican yesterday, Pope Francis spoke to 138 ... continue reading


POPE IN ALBANIA: Pope Francis denounces religious militants during one-day trip Watch

Image of On his first trip as pope to a European country outside of Italy, Pope Francis made no direct reference to Islamic State militants who have seized territory in Syria and Iraq.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In his one-day trip to the chiefly Muslim nation of Albania, Pope Francis soundly denounced religious militants, declaring that no one act as the "armor of God." LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "Let no one consider themselves the 'armor' of God while planning ... continue reading


If Christ Has Not Been Raised Our Preaching and Our Faith is Empty Watch

Image of We too,you and me, will be raised from the dead. Only then will our redemption be complete. We are works in progress. However, that new life can begin even now for those with eyes of living faith, hearts filled with His presence, and minds renewed by the Light of the Truth which Jesus has fully revealed and imparts to those who love and follow Him.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

When we learn to embrace the implications of that empty tomb, and allow grace to work within us, we are made ready for eternity - by living differently every day. The Resurrection provides a framework, a hermeneutic, a lens of meaning, for everything that happens ... 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, Job 9:1-12, 14-16
1 Job spoke next. He said:2 Indeed, I know ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 88:10-11, 12-13, 14-15
10 Do you work wonders for the dead, can shadows rise ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 9:57-62
57 As they travelled along they met a man on the road ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for October 1st, 2014 Image

St. Therese of Lisieux
October 1: Generations of Catholics have admired this young saint, called ... 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