Communion of Saints and Angels

At St Clement Chapel in Pattaya, Thailand

Spiritual men and women, in full devotion of mind and in contemplation, frequently gaze upon God like the angels. Therefore the blessed spirits, who ceaselessly contemplate God, rejoice in the good works of just people, and they show these works to God with their own natures, and so they continue their praise of God and never come to an end, for they will never exhaust his fullness.
Saint Hildegard von Bingen

Best to be Little

Thérèse

Thérèse of the Child Jesus used to say that, even if she had committed the greatest crimes on earth, she would be sure of God’s forgiveness. She went on to say that, in the presence of God, it is best to be little, for if one is little, all is forgiven, and if one falls it is not from a great height. Here we have an important secret of hope: a solid and lofty view of faith, not mere sentimentality.
René Voillaume LBJ (1905–2003)

Laughing on the Cliff

Little Sister MagdeleineBecause he is so helpless, a little child always turns toward his father. He is too weak and too little to have a will of his own or to want anything that his father does not want. How touching is this trust in his father. Have you ever seen that often repeated gesture of a young father pretending to toss his little child out over a cliff? And the child laughs and laughs because he knows well that no harm can ever come to him from his father.
Little Sister Magdeleine (1898–1989)

Before All Else: Being

Before all projects, before all plans, before all works and actions is being. Being comfortable and alive in Christ interiorly (and exteriorly); being with and existing with others exteriorly (and interiorly).

This is the surprising message that one gets by reading the life of Charles de Foucauld, by exploring the writings of Catholic philosopher Jacques Maritain, or by knowing that Little Brothers and Little Sisters of Jesus exist, living their lives side by side with the poor simply as friends and sisters and brothers, without planned works. How could we have forgotten the overriding value of simply who and what we are, in a kind of rest at the centre of our heart, which overflows onto the tiniest of our gestures, lines on our face, attention to details in the lives of others, and so on? How could we have forgotten that, beneath all the action anyone could do to or with others, there exists the substructure of the relationship in itself?

It is hard to imagine, but somehow we can forget all this. Yet many have remembered. One of the greatest and longest reflections Jacques Maritain made in his life was on the place of the values, hidden within us, which manifest themselves externally, though perhaps in masked ways. It’s not that the “interior life” is unmanifest on the outside. It is manifest, but it is manifest first as being, not as doing or planning or acting. With regards to contemplation itself this is true:

JacquesContemplation… is frequently the treasure of persons hidden in the world… souls who live by it in all simplicity, without visions, without miracles, but with such a flame of love for God and neighbour that good happens all around them without noise and without agitation.

It’s also true of the value of relationship coming before doing things to or doing things with others:

What do men and women want first of all? What do they need first of all? They need to be loved; to be recognized; to be treated like human beings; to feel respected in each and every value that they bear within themselves.

For that it does not suffice to tell them: “I love you.” Nor does it suffice (far from it!) to do some good towards them. It is demanded to exist with them, in the most profound sense of the word… to be there.

VanOr, yet more succinctly, from Little Văn, we learn that

the heart is a thousand times more precious than the goods it gives.

The heart is the original. What comes out of it is second. The original is what we crave the most, the seeing of it. Let the heart be seen and held in common: that’s the most important part.

When we are tempted to forget the original value of being and being with, which exist before anything that leaves from our heart and especially anything that we try to plan, let us turn to the Church. Thankfully, the reminders which the Church has given us are very good. Before doing comes being. Look at a Blessed Charles. Look at the expositions of a Jacques Maritain. Look at the approved way of life of the “contemplative in the midst of the world” religious congregations which are the Little Brothers and Little Sisters of Jesus. They are signs for the rest of us: signs of the times and signs of life, which is, to be sure, being.