Anyone reading this blog will have remarked that quite a few of the entries are written as God’s messages to me. I want to make it clear that I make no claims for these writings other than that they are what they are: the results of my writing three pages in my notebook without stopping to think, while imagining what God would want to say to me.
So please don’t take these as anything more than meditations on my part. They are certainly not intended to be in any way infallible. I believe that I have written nothing contrary to Catholic doctrine or morality. If I have, then I would be pleased to be told of the fact.
My son, you have had a hard time of it. I do appreciate your efforts to live according to my will, but the truth is that you have been going about it the wrong way.
I have told you many times that there is only one way for you. That is to commend your actions to me and then act accordingly. I gave you the example of writing these pages. Write with your actions instead of your pen.
Now, where have you been going wrong? The answer to that is crucial. You need to understand what the problem has been and the causes of it before you can put it right. But you also need to realise that nothing has been wasted. I honour any sincere attempt to follow me.
Notice when writing these pages that the INTENTION is what counts. You have the intention to write my words and to keep writing them continuously. You are fully at liberty to change your intention at any moment and there are two ways in which you can do that.
The first is that you can change your intention of writing my words and write something else. You could write in your own voice or in the voice of someone other than me. You might learn a lot by doing so, but it would no longer be my voice. You could also change the subject, but only once you have stopped writing in my voice. What I would like you to remark particularly is that you can’t change the subject while you continue to write in my voice. The subject matter is under my control. This is important for doing my will. If you are acting with the intention of letting me control your actions, then you can only do what I will. You have no control over your actions, or rather the subject matter of your actions, until you change your intention. You are however always in control of your intention.
So the “voice” in which your are writing or acting is the first way in which you can change your intention.
The second way is in the method you use to write. Your intention at the moment is to write continuously without stopping to think or worry about spelling, grammar or punctuation - and more importantly not worrying about what the end project will be like.
There are many other ways of writing of course - and you could change your intention to any one of these. You could maintain your intention of writing in my voice but change to a dialogue or a thinking and revising mode. Both of these are very different to what you are doing now: they are much less focused on the one voice. You are introducing much more of your own thoughts in your own voice. When it comes to actions rather than writing, this becomes even more the case. It is in this that your major problem has been situated.
You have frequently changed both intentions, but the one that is causing you most problem is changing your intention about the method to follow. It as if you tried to finish the three pages of notebook which you are writing now by stopping continuous writing and starting to think about what you were writing and editing it as you went along.
I would like you now to get some practice. You have a few lines to the bottom of the page. Set your alarm to five minutes and then just change your writing to actions, as if the actions were a continuation of what you are writing - then when the alarm goes off come back and see what else I have to say.
What did you do? Tidied a few things and then started preparing lunch. Did you notice how natural it felt? How lightly you could hold your intention? How you didn’t need to switch off any of your thoughts and feelings as long as you kept the action flowing? There’s nothing at all difficult about this.
It’s been a fair while since I posted here. It’s been a time of great testing by the Lord, but he has been gracious to me and never allowed me to lose faith.
I have several times come near despair over my own inability to do God’s will. And then yesterday I had one of those blinding flashes of the obvious which illuminate the entire scene.
I was researching articles on goal setting in a business context, and one of the articles I read was about “outcome thinking”. One sentence struck me hard:
The aim of outcome thinking is to respond in alignment with the outcome you want instead of just reacting to the situation.It struck me that this summed up exactly what I was looking for - a unifying principle that shapes all my actions. But what was the desired outcome of the Christian life? Up to then I had been trying to do God’s will, but God’s will was often difficult to discern and even more difficult to do on a consistent basis. Having “God’s will” as my desired outcome left all the questions unanswered because I didn’t know what outcome God wanted.
And then it struck me. Yes, of course I knew what God’s desired outcome was. It was to get me to heaven. I realised that I now knew what should be the guiding principle of my life and my actions: to get to heaven.
This has always been the aim of the saints, right from the time of the Apostles. “Work out your salvation in fear and trembling” said St Paul. Only in quite modern times has getting to heaven ceased to be the major preoccupation of churchgoers. I think that is because there is a general feeling that “it’ll all be all right on the day”, a feeling that it’ll only be really outstandingly wicked people who don’t go to heaven. The rest of us will be ok, even if we’re not particularly religious.
What I found yesterday was that making Heaven my desired outcome did make a radical change to my actions. Suddenly I began to see how much of what I do is quite incompatible with Heaven. So much of my own laziness and half-heartedness become unsupportable in my mind.
It’s too early to say what will be the result of this. I will write again soon.
My son, you are after all this time still jumping from method to method and making everything wildly complicated. I have told you exactly how to stay on the Way. I have told you not to be concerned about feelings or results. I have told you to PERSIST. And what do you do? You never stick to what I have told you to do, you give up the second you don’t feel perfect, you insist on results even though you don’t know what the results should be. As as for persisting - you can’t even persist in doing things the wrong way!
But don’t be disheartened. You have learned a lot along the way. Your heart has always remained mine, and you have been true to your desire to walk in my ways and do my will. I will honour all that.
Let us be quite clear - there is no other blessing for you in any path other than the one I have given you. I have cut all other paths off for you. That does not mean they cannot be means of grace to others - but for you, you have my command. There can be no blessing in disobeying my command.
I want you to listen fully to me on this. You must hear me out. The world is in desperate need of those who hear my voice. The forces of evil are triumphant in their own minds and the voice of good has grown very quiet. I need people to be at my disposal. Not that I as God need anything, but I have decreed that I will act through humans, through mortals. What else would be the point of the Incarnation?
Many years ago you had the insight that you are all called to act as Christ did when he was on Earth, and that if you didn’t do what he would have done, then it wouldn’t be done at all. That is because I have decreed it to be so.
And what did Jesus do on Earth? “My food is to do the will of him who sent me”. He lived utterly and completely in the will of the Father.
That is what I ask you to do. You are a son of God, adopted through the merits of the sacrifice of my Son. You are his brother by adoption. If you obey the will of his Father as he obeyed it, then you will accomplish greater things than he did. That is his promise to you all. It is a mystery to you how that can possibly be true, but in my eternal plans it is.
I am saying these words so that you will remember them when you are tempted again to leave my Way. Remember, I have shut off all other paths for you. Others may find blessing in them, but not you. Persist.
Now what do you need to know? What questions do you have? You want to know whether it is really possible for someone like you to live in the Way I have indicated. Of course it is. I would not command you to do something you did not have the power to do. And what is difficult about it? I have asked you to do nothing that is any more difficult than writing these words on the page.
You are asking whether you should pay attention to money, security and so on - especially where your wife and family are concerned. My answer is that you must trust such things to me.
All will be made clear as you progress along the Way. You will learn exactly what needs to be done, how to do it, and what the results should be. But you will only learn these things by trusting yourself to me. “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added unto you.”
This is the answer to all you questions, worries and concerns. There is nothing that is not solved by this. Grasp hold of it.
Your friend M. said that once you had overcome your initial uncertainties you would shine forth in God in a marvellous way. That is true. But remember that success is always to be judged by me and not by the world. You may be shining forth in me even as the world reviles you and all seems to be failure and dismay.
Do not fear. That has always been the watchword of the saints. Do not fear - because the Lord is with you.
Who can harm you if the Lord is with you?
You are nearly at the end of these writings. I have just a few more things to say to you. Firstly, do not be concerned about what others think of you. You are not here to make friends. The path of righteousness is often a lonely one. Secondly, remember that you need make no judgements about what you should be doing, neither need you listen to anyone else’s judgement. Only I can tell you what to do. Do not let yourself be condemned. And finally when you fail do not spend time commiserating with yourself - pick yourself up and get back on the Way.
My son, the question on your mind is “Is this what it’s supposed to be like?” You feel frustrated because yesterday you did not feel that you were floating through life buoyed up by the Spirit of God. But did I not warn you yesterday that what you feel does not matter. The important things are obedience and faithfulness. If you look at yesterday in that light you will see it very differently.
It is the same with today. You do not feel that you are doing well. You feel frustrated rather than peaceful. Yet you have done what I said - you made your resolution at the start of the day to follow my Way throughout the day and you have done what has presented itself to you as the Way. What else could you have done to please me?
Ignore your frustration. You must learn to work through it. Although you think you are acting just the same as before, you have a radical difference of heart. To you it is now my Way that is important.
You are also haunted by the question “Have I got it right?” You want assurance that this is in fact the right way to proceed - that you haven’t been misleading yourself. This is something that can only be answered by continuing on the Way. Assurance will come.
You have read enough in the writings of the saints to know that “assurances” and “consolations” are to be valued very low. The greatest growth comes in the times when assurances and consolations are removed.
You have also some specific areas of concern. You worry about the work that needs to be done, the disorder in your life, the future - especially in terms of money. You know that you need to earn more money, but I do not appear to be guiding you to do so. Instead you are kicking your heels in inactivity. In all these concerns I say “Have faith” and “Be faithful”. Do you think I cannot change all these things overnight if I wish? Indeed I will change them very soon if you remain faithful - and in ways that will surprise you.
There is another area in which you have questions and that is about your thoughts. Should following the Way not only affect your actions but also your thoughts? After all, the thoughts which you write here are my thoughts - should you not also be having these thoughts during the day? These thoughts are diferent from your own thoughts which tend to be worries, questions, concerns.
This is indeed a legitimate cause of concern to you. You have read St Paul where he says “bring every thought captive to Christ Jesus”. You have wondered what this means in practice and at times tried to obey it literally. But understand that the mind of Christ is precisely the Way that I have outlined to you. The Way of intention and faith. What is important is your intention and your faith. If these are right your thoughts will fall in line.
Now do you understand? There is nothing hidden - the Way is clear. Follow in the Way and you will be following me. You may feel now that nothing is happening, but you will find soon enough that that is not the case.
So in answer to your first question: “Yes, this is the way it is supposed to be.” At one stage yesterday evening you lost your intention. When that happens, it is sufficient simply to bring yourself back by re-affirming your intention and starting to act out of it again.
My son, you are worried that you have displeased me by not being faithful - and indeed you have not been faithful to what I said. But do not spend time regretting what you have and have not done. Turn rather back to me and start to walk in my ways again. That is what repentance is and my forgiveness is always given to those who are repentant.
I wish today to tell you what it is that has been going wrong with you. You need to know what to avoid, what to shun and what to follow. You also need to know how to pick yourself up again when you go wrong. Let us look at all these.
First - where did you go wrong? The answer is a simple one. You let go of my hand. I told you exactly what you needed to do to walk in my grace and you did it for a time and then stopped. What I told you to do was two things only:
- give yourself to me at the beginning of each day to walk in my path
- believe throughout the day that you are walking in my path
Two things then: INTENTION and FAITH. That is all. Nothing else. What can be simpler than that? There is nothing more difficult about it than the intention and faith that you display in writing these pages.
When you let go of these, disaster follows. Why do you let go of them? Let us examine the reasons. There are basically two reasons. One is that you do not FEEL that you are on the right path and the other is that you do not see RESULTS. Feelings and results - did I ever tell you to follow your feelings? Or did I ever tell you to worry about results? No, indeed not.
So put out of your mind any ideas you have that you must experience a particular type of feeling or see particular types of results. Leave both your feelings and the results of your actions in my hands. That is where they belong. You will have feelings and you will have results - but it is not for you to worry about what they will be.
When you go wrong - and it will happen - how can you bring yourself back onto the right path?
From what I have been saying the answer should be obvious. Instead of feelings, have intention. Instead of results, have faith. Think of someone with the intention of climbing Everest. They may go through many extreme feelings but it is their intention that will get them to the top, not their feelings. They may undergo many setbacks but it is their faith that will keep them going even when everything seems a disaster. So it must be with you.
As a general remark I would add that you tend to allow your imagination to make your worries and concerns seem real. You worry about money, about the state of the world, about your own sinfulness, about your work. Most of all you worry that you cannot trust yourself to see things through. And you are quite right - you cannot trust yourself. All these things should be in my hands.
All you have to do is to play your part. Have the intention to follow my Way and the faith that you are following it. And when one or the other fails, then hasten to restore it. That is all you have to do. I will say it again: that is all that you have to do. That is the golden thread that you follow and which will lead you through every situation and every circumstance. From the Valley of the Shadow of Death to the Heavenly City itself. Indeed it transforms the Valley of the Shadow of Death into the gates of the City.
Remember that every detail of your life is under my control and that all things therefore work to your good. Be faithful, and I will be faithful too. I am faithful even when you are not.
I have told you many times that this is your ministry. You have no other. There may be many things you will do as a result of this ministry, but they will not be your ministry - this patient following of my Way step by step is your ministry. Your ministry at this moment is to write these words. Not because writing words is your ministry but because it is the current step on the Way - and the Way is your ministry.
I emphasize these points over and over again because they are of the utmost importance. Remember that anything you do, good or evil, which is not part of the following of the Way is displeasing to me. You can only please me by following the Way. If you follow the Way you can do nothing other than please me. I will be pleased as much by the little things as by the big things. There is nothing you could do at this very moment which would be more pleasing to me than writing these words. Not if you were to give all your money to the poor or give your life for my Gospel. One day of course you may be called to do these things - but not this moment.
Remember these words of mine. Re-read them often.
My son, you are doing well but need to remember that your aim in life is one: to do God’s will. You need no other aim or goal or intention. You need to understand too that the way to God’s will is not by endeavour or striving, but by faith.
So how do you live during a day? Every theory about life comes down in the end to what you do right now in the present moment. How you decide that or how you come across that is the crux of the matter.
Those who have the intention of doing God’s will should have no other intention. Therefore they should go into every situation with the intention of doing God’s will, and also with the realisation that only God knows what his will is in that particular situation. Therefore you enter every situation with the intention to do God’s will and trusting that what you do will be God’s will. it is not for you to decide how the situation should turn out or what you should do in that situation. So many people who try to do my will think that it is a matter of applying rigid rules or of achieving some target or goal. That is why their lives are always lived under a sense of strain and why following me becomes a burden to them.
I gave you the example of writing these pages. Let me explain it a little further because I think you have misunderstood me a little. The writing of these pages is a model of how you should live your day.
First, you have three completely blank pages in your notebook. This is like the blank day before you.
Second, you start writing with the intention of writing my words to you. Other than that you have no idea what will fill those three pages. Three empty pages may seem daunting to you but you simply write on in faith. In the same way you have no aims or expectations for what will go into your day but you simply act in faith. As long as you have the intention of doing God’s will and the faith that you are doing God’s will, you will be following me. You don’t have to achieve anything or reach any goals. This is what I mean by saying “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.” You need nothing other than me.
Note that in writing these pages you have complete free will. You could stop writing at any time. You could change your intention and write on a completely different subject. You could start thinking and planning out what you were going to write. In all these cases the character of what you were doing would have changed.
To live in my will is perfect freedom. You live in peace. You are delivered from worry. You can meet every situation in the knowledge that my grace will be freely available for it. This is the true life of the Spirit.
Do not think for a moment that this means you will lead an easy life. The situations you face may be terrifying or heartrending or painful. I lived all of these and far worse. But you will rejoice because the Kingdom of Heaven is yours.
Read these words of mine in the context of the Gospels, and in the context of Paul’s actions and epistles, and you will see what I have said being lived.
This is how you are to live. As I have said to you before, this is not optional. It is required of you. You can turn away from it, but you cannot avoid it. You have come so far: do not turn back now. He who perseveres to the end shall be saved.
Copy out the last psalm you read.
But my people would not hearken to my voice:
and Israel would none of me.
So I gave them up unto their own heart’s lust:
and they walked in their own counsels.
O that my people had hearkened unto me,
and Israel had walked in my ways!
I should soon have subdued their enemies,
and turned my hand against their adversaries.
The haters of the Lord should have submitted themselves unto him:
but their time should have endured for ever.
He should have fed them also with the finest of the wheat:
and with honey out of the rock should I have satisfied thee.
(Psalm 81: 11-16)
Remember what it says here: “they walked in their own counsels”. That is what you have been doing up to now.
My son, is it not time that you trusted yourself entirely to me? You have spent much of today avoiding trusting me. I know why you are behaving this way. It is because you do not feel as if you have been walking in my will. But faithfulness is not a matter of feelings. It is a matter of holding fast in spite of whatever feelings you may have.
I have told you how to proceed. I have told you that it does not matter if you forget it for periods during the day - indeed it is impossible not to - as long as you are still acting in the spirit of it. Nowhere did I mention feelings. Nor should you be judging by results. You cannot tell what results I am bringing about. My ways are not your ways. But be sure that everything is for your greatest good, and for the greatest good of the others whose lives you touch too.
You have been worrying today about the state of the world - but you are failing to see that it is in doing my will that you rise above the world. All your fears are negated by doing my will. If God is on your side, who can be against you? Indeed many will think they are against you, but all their efforts will resound on their own heads.
I do not call you to criticise the government or the church. I call you to obey my will and obey it only. This would still be your duty even if you were the last Christian left in the world. Indeed perhaps one day you may be, but what is that to you? I was the only person on whom the entire weight of salvation fell though many called themselves followers of God. Those who are faithful in doing my will are few. Even those who wish to do my will are few.
Do not think that there is anything else that matters in the world. You can number all the crises in the world, all the scares that the world makes such a noise about, but nothing matters except doing my will as I reveal it moment by moment. Many identify for themselves what they think my will is, or rather what they think it should be, and set off to achieve it. But they are doing their own work, not mine. Many shall call me “Lord, Lord” but I shall reply “I never knew you”. They will point to all they have done for me - but they will have done everything except to do my will.
Do not fall into this trap. I know what your duties and commitments in life are. Indeed I gave them to you. You do not have to worry that I will forget them. As I said to you before, are you affairs safer in my hands or in yours?
Understand what I said about not worry about your next meal or all the other things that you need. I know you need them.
So I am calling you to live in a quite different way from the way the world lives. To abandon your cares and worries, your security, is considered irresponsible by the world. This is the very same world that has raised irresponsibility to the status of a religion. Take no heed of the world - it is always with us. It put me to death. And since then it has not changed its nature one little bit.
I do not mean by this that you should be indifferent to the fate of those caught up in the world. Remember: everything in the world is designed to take people away from obedience to me. Every entertainment, every philosophy, every political idea, every campaign, every criticism or adulation - all have the same purpose - to avoid bending the knee to Jesus Christ as Lord.
These things must be. But all you have to do is be faithful to me. Follow me step by step in the manner I have indicated to you. This is how I followed my Father’s will, and in so doing I redeemed humanity. Every saint joins me in this work of redemption. Be one of them.
Copy down for me the passage from the Psalms you were reading before you started to write:
For thou, O God, hast proved us:
thou has tried us, as silver is tried.
Thou broughtest us into the net;
thou laidst affliction upon our loins.
Thou hast caused men to ride over our heads;
we went through fire and through water:
but thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place.
(Psalm 66: 10-12)
That is a description of how you arrive at the Kingdom. It is not about feeling good or feeling on top of things. It is about being faithful through trials and pains and desolation. This passage describes the nature of my path on earth, and the path of all those who are mine.
My son, you are now a full member of my church. Welcome into the great fellowship of the communion of saints. Welcome too to the fellowship of the saints on earth who partake in heaven in the sacraments which I have ordained. Welcome to the sharing of my body and blood, by which you are transformed into the divine image restored by the New Adam.
Life from now on will be different for you. For you are now a citizen of heaven in exile on your earthly pilgrimage. You will always be loyal to your heavenly home. Remember kindly those you have left behind and by the life of Christ living in you transform them in their turn.
I have shown you much in these pages so far, and I will show you much more in the future. Remember that there are no half measures in the Kingdom of God. You are called to be perfect - and perfect you must and shall be. This is not a matter of choice. It is the command of your King.
What am I calling you to? This question I return to again and again because it is much on your mind. I am calling you to live moment by moment in my grace. That is what I am calling you to - everything else will be revealed to you in that act itself of dwelling in me. You will live in my grace moment by moment, and step by step you will build my Kingdom. Remember my Kingdom is not an earthly one. Any constructs or ministries or earthly kingdoms you build here are vanity except in so far as they lead to the building of the heavenly Kingdom. These are things too deep for you to understand at present.
Now to the question of how exactly you live in my grace moment by moment. Over the last few days you have lived your life, when you have recalled it, in the way I told you - similar to the way you write these pages as an expression of my Spirit in your writing without stopping. Your life in that way has become an expression of my Spirit. When you have not recalled it, when the pressure of events takes me from your conscious mind, you have continued to act in the same spirit, but without the direct action of the Spirit. I use a small s and a large S to distinguish between the different senses of the world “spirit”.
So you see that to live more closely in the Spirit you must practise a greater degree of recollection. The more you are consciously following the Spirit’s direction by expressing him in your actions the more your actions will be sanctified. Do not worry though: this is something that will grow in you as the Spirit continues to act in you. It is not something that you can summon by sheer willpower. Your part is to remain faithful.
Your part in my family is the same as that of every child of mine - to live in me and I in you. In that way you are all the same: there is no distinction in Christ - not between rich and poor, man and woman, master and servant. Nor too between intelligent and simple, or whole and maimed. All are complete in Christ. But observe that the way I act in each person, the way my action manifests itself in the world, will be entirely different. The root is the same; the fruit will be good fruit but of many differing kinds.
Do not be surprised therefore if you do not find yourself bearing obvious fruit in the world. There is such a thing as hidden fruit. But be sure that bad fruit is never mine.
I have one further message for you today. And that is that your prayers have been heard. Particularly your prayers for your wife. Do not worry about her; continue to pray for her; but rest in faith that my Spirit is acting in her. She is resisting him, but she has not realised that yet. When the dam breaks, the waters will flow.
Now, you are wondering how I will fill the rest of this page! I want you to copy out Psalm 1 in the Authorised Version. Why the Authorised Version? Because it is the one you love most.
Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly,
nor standeth in the way of sinners,
nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and in his law doth he meditate day and night.
And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water,
that bringeth forth his fruit in his season;
his leaf also shall not wither,
and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.
The ungodly are not so:
but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.
Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgement,
nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.
For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous:
but the way of the ungodly shall perish.
My son, you have learned more about doing my will today. You have learned that my will is a very quiet thing. Often it is indistinguishable from what you would have done anyway. But an action done for my sake is quite different from an action done for some other reason. It is in this way that my kingdom advances on earth. Yes, there have been great saints who have made spectacular impacts - and I rejoice in them - but the slow and steady advance of the Faith has owed most of all to the doing of my will by ordinary simple people in their ordinary simple lives.
It is to the ordinary people of the world that I was called. It is in the hearts of the ordinary people of the world that I live. They are faithful when many are not who appear to be more holy. Truly, many have betrayed me out of the arrogance of their own intellectual superiority. You have not been free from that fault yourself.
What you are finding is that it does not take intellect or understanding or fine words to do my will. What it takes is resolution and repentance and, above all, trust. These are things that all can have if they ask me for them. They are the raw materials of grace. To him that asks I will give. And I will teach in the giving.
Tomorrow you will be received into the church. Over the last year you have been taken to pieces and put back together again. Your attitude to so many things is quite different. It takes exposure to the true church of Christ to achieve this. All your life you have been far from the source of truth which is the church. False teaching abounds outside the church. Do not think for a moment that the differences are insignificant or can be glossed over. It is only in the church and through the church that my grace can flow freely. That is why so many want to attack my church - because they cannot stand the thought of grace.
Now you continue writing in faith. What I have said so far has surprised you. I do indeed love all those who call upon my name and indeed all those who honour God and seek him. Even those who do not come from monotheistic religions have some glimmering of the truth - and that truth may be enough to save them. But woe betide those who have the full truth and still resist it! It would be better for them never to have seen the truth.
You wish to know in what direction I am calling you. My reply is that I do not want you to know. If you knew what I wanted from you, you would endeavour to do it yourself. But what I want of you is that you should be entirely dependent on my grace. So just as I said to you two days ago you need to make that day-to-day commitment to follow in my way, to walk in my way. And then walk in it. Just as you are writing these pages in a certain way because you have made a choice to do so, so you know you are walking in my way because you have made the choice to do so. And my grace will lead you and inspire your actions. Every action you do will be simply in my grace. But it will be transformed by my grace.
Now do you begin to see what I meant by saying you should trust your Father in Heaven just as the birds of the air and the flowers of the field do? By trusting God for each and every action of your day you are safe in the Father’s hands, safe in my hands too.
When I was on earth, that was how I lived. My choice was to do the will of my Father and every action and word of mine resulted from that choice. To choose God is to choose life, life eternal, and I am the way and the life.
Think about choice for a moment. If you decided that, instead of the path of God’s will, you would follow the path of making money, then every thought and action of yours would be directed towards that aim - even the ones that weren’t obviously so. Whatever path you choose affects every action and every thought. The same occurs if you do not choose a path at all. Many people hover between different paths and the result is confusion in their lives.
You can tell what path someone is on by looking at the decisions that they make. Though in truth decisions make themselves once someone has chosen their path in life.
You know the truth of this because you have in your life chosen other paths. And when you committed yourself to one, you found that everything happened according to that path. The path of lust, the path of pleasure, the path of money - these are all common paths to follow.
My son, you have done well so far. You learned yesterday what it means to do my will for a whole day. How many things did you do? You did much, and yet what really mattered was that you were attentive to my will. You will learn to trust me more and more, the more you persevere.
For I know what you need. And did I not say when I was on earth that your Father knows you need all these things, but seek first the Kingdom of God and all these things will be added to you? You will find what I meant by this.
You worry about money and work and all manner of things but they are all quite unnecessary to worry about. Your Father knows you need them.
Are these things better off in the hands of God or in your hands?
But I know what you are thinking. “What if God does not really exist?” or “What if I am approaching God in the wrong way?”
If you do the will of my Father, which is my will too, you will know the truth of these words of mine. You need no proofs. You will find certainty by experience.
Do not worry about your doubts. Just persist. Use what faith you have and it will grow. Remember the mustard seed. How it grows until it becomes a great tree where the birds of the air take shelter.
You will know the meaning of these things with great clarity. They will no longer be just words to you, but lived experience.
Do not be afraid to trust all things into my hands. The lack of worry is a sign of a true child of mine - one who has given all things into my hands. Do not think though that every worry is a sin. My Father does not expect you to trust him to that extent without having tried him first. he will prove true. How could he be otherwise? But your minds are so steeped in the ways of the world that this sort of trust can only be learned gradually. This is why there are so few who trust me with their whole lives. But those who do are sharp instruments in the hands of the Lord.
I will use you. I will use you in ways that you cannot imagine and may often not understand. You may often not know when you are being used. But faithfulness is what I look for in an instrument. Faithfulness is more than just an intellectual belief. It is following me, no matter what.
Remember what it said in the book you were reading yesterday: see things as they affect God and not as they affect you. Is what happens for God’s glory or your own? If you follow my way, then all will be for God’s glory.
It is for God’s glory that you are writing now. It was for God’s glory that you worked and prayed yesterday, and it will be for God’s glory that you live today and every day. Provided that you make that day-by-day commitment to follow my way.
What you have discovered is how light my burden is, how easy my yoke. There is nothing difficult about it in itself, though some of the things I may ask you to do may be very difficult. My grace will always aid you and keep you strong and firm. You asked me for peace. And you have it. To the one who asks it shall be given. Do you think that I would be indiffent to your struggles, to your searching? Indeed not. They shall be greatly rewarded. I have promised that all who seek shall find, and that those who hunger and thirst after righteousness shall be filled.
There are many ways to follow me. But it is me who must be followed. There is no other way to God. Every saint was different from every other saint. Even those whose lives seemed similar were diffent in ways that were known only to me - but different in every way that mattered. I do not want everyone to be the same. I glory in the differences of my saints. Is St Augustine the same as St Therese? Yet both are great saints, and both Doctors of the Church. And there are saints greater than these who are unknown to the world.
These things are important to know because it is me that you must follow. Not a method or a particular teacher. Did not St Paul make this clear? You are of Christ, not of Paul or Apollos. So follow my way and you will be as I want you to be. And I will use you to accomplish what I wish to accomplish. Like a good tool, you may be entirely unaware of what is being made with your help.
Do not think though that you will be unrewarded. Far from it! You will have the only reward that matters, both in this life and in the world to come.
I am your reward. What other reward would you have?
There is no other reward that will not crumble into ashes in your hands as you try to grasp it.
My son, I am pleased that you have come to hear what I have to say to you. Many saints have used this method of writing down what I say to them. They do it because their only desire is to do my will and to hear from me what it is. But many others have done this exercise whose motives are not so pure. People who desire power for themselves will never hear from me rightly. It is their own desires and ideas that will be speaking.
I say this because you must always come before me in humility of heart if you wish to hear me correctly. There can be no mixed motives in your heart. Your desire must be for me and for me alone. You can so easily lead yourself astray.
How can you tell? Look into your heart and see what is there. Let the Spirit enlighten you.
If you look into your heart, what do you see? I will tell you what I see in your heart. I see a great desire for peace - and sometimes that desire for peace becomes a desire for sleep. My peace is not of this world - you must be awake.
I also see still a lack of trust in me. You have gone through a great time of testing this past year in which you have found yourself pulled in many directions. Yet in spite of all you have held firm. Build on that. Your faith is still weak. But it is there. Remember what I said about the mustard seed. Do not hold back because you think your faith is weak.
What else do I see? I still see much lusting after the things of this world, and much lusting after women too. See them as your sisters in Christ. I have no wish to stop you talking to women or being friends with them. But you must honour them. To lust after them is to degrade them in your mind.
Now I will move on to other things. There are other things in your heart which I will not deal with now. The light of the Spirit brings the darkness into light gradually so that it is not to much to bear all at once. Remember the things I have said to you: be awake, have faith, honour your sisters in the faith.
The great question you have is how to follow my will. This has been exercising you for over a year now - and for many years on and off before that.
The struggle you have been through this year has been according to my will for you. You have learnt many lessons, including faith, persistency, purity and many others. Many of these have much further to go. But there comes a time when the struggle must cease and true action in the Spirit begin.
Are you ready? Have you prepared yourself to listen?
There are many ways of following me, just as there are many ways of writing three pages on any subject. Yet the way you have chosen to write these three pages is a model of one way of living in my will. You hear me through these pages - and in the same way you can hear me in your daily life.
First, consider that you have made a choice in what you write. You have chosen to listen to me. You are not writing about business, or love, or your day, or your other concerns. You could have chosen to write about these things, and you could also have chosen to write in the 1st person. And what’s more you can choose to change what you are writing at any moment. So you have absolute free will as to what you write, and how you write it and indeed whether you write at all. Nevertheless you have made a choice and you are keeping to it. It is not difficult to maintain that choice. You do not even have to think about it, though it is implicit in everything that you are writing now.
How are you writing? This is something you have often practised. You are writing without stopping for thought. You “keep your hand moving”. That is the way to hear what is inside you without censoring it.
So in the same way you make a choice about how you are going to live your day. It is best to do that day by day. “I will live today following God’s will”. And then act in that decision without stopping. Do not worry about what you are doing or what you have done. Let me direct you just as I am directing this writing. You may not always hear me clearly but the very act will help you to hear me better.
The secret in this is to see what you are doing as a message from me. Just as what you are writing now is a message from me, so let your actions be. It is simply a matter of seeing your actions as an extension of the writing you are doing now. You should maintain an interest in what you are doing, just as you now have an interest in what you are writing. But do not think forward or back any more than you think forward or back about what you are writing now. To stop while you were writing and think about what you were going to write next would be a mistake. But to write those thoughts would be the right thing to do.
In the evening we went to see the excellent production of “Richard III” at Stratford-upon-Avon. Something which had never struck me about the play before (or indeed about any of Shakespeare’s plays) was how Catholic it is. In fact the whole play is one extended depiction of what happens when God’s order is ignored.
Richmond, the future Henry VII, has the God-given mission to bring back order. Before the final battle he prays:
O Thou, Whose captain I account myself,
Look on my forces with a gracious eye.
Put in their hands Thy bruising irons of wrath,
That they may crush down with a heavy fall
The usurping helmets of our adversaries.
Make us Thy ministers of chastisement,
That we may praise Thee in the victory.
To Thee do I commend my watchful soul,
Ere I let fall the windows of mine eyes.
Sleeping and waking, O defend me still!
I would love to see a production which emphasises the religious aspect, rather than treat it as a quaint historical relic as most modern productions do.
So far today I have got out of bed, had breakfast, read the newspaper and looked at my email - a perfectly normal Saturday morning in other words. Has being recollected before God made any difference? Not any obvious difference I have to say. In fact what has mainly happened is that I have been struggling internally with what exactly it means to be “recollected”. Is it just a matter of trying to keep consciousness of God in one’s mind, or is it something more?
I think I have inside my mind some sort of picture of what it should feel like to be doing God’s will. It’s difficult, perhaps impossible for me to identify exactly what that picture consists of, but I know when the way I am feeling does not conform to it. And therefore I am aware that just being consciously in the presence of God is not sufficient. There has to be a sense of hearing from God, of being led or guided by him as well. So there is, or should be, a strong element of of both hearing and of submission to what is heard.
I find that I hear God best when I am most surrendered to his will. What I have gradually learned over the last year is that God’s will is not just a matter of the events which happen to me and the paths which he wishes me to take. God’s will includes everything that happens, and that includes my own thoughts, feelings, impulses and actions. So there is a sense in which I have to accept from God’s hand even my own imperfect actions. Obviously there is scope for misunderstanding here. It is not a matter of doing whatever I wish and then saying “Oh, that’s all right - whatever I do is God’s will” because then I would be like Judas saying “It’s God’s will that Jesus should be crucified, so I’m doing God’s will by betraying him.”
Nevertheless when I consciously surrender my past, present and future to God and take on faith that my actions will be according to God’s will, even if they seem very imperfect to me, then at the same time I find that I can hear God most clearly. It’s the surrender that makes the difference. So perhaps my seven-day experiment is one of surrender rather than one of recollection.
I want to return to the subject of Interior Recollection, which I last dealt with in June last year. I’ve become increasingly aware over the last few weeks about how important it is. Although it is not mentioned as such in Scripture, it is implicit in everything that is said in the Gospels and Epistles. If you read my previous posting on the subject, along with Aimee Milburn’s comment, you will have a pretty good idea of what it consists of (or, to be more precise, my understanding of what it consists of).
Interior Recollection is closely related to the concept of Surrender to God. It would be difficult to be surrendered to God without interior recollection and vice versa.
So what I am aiming to do over the next seven days is to see what degree of interior recollection I can maintain, and what effect it has on me. I’m not living in a cave in the mountains or a cell in a monastery, but instead in an ordinary house, in an ordinary town, doing ordinary things. Will I feel closer to God? What effect will it have on the fabric of my life? Will other people notice any difference? Will I succeed in maintaining recollection at all?
I intend to write a daily report on this - so let’s find out!
All sorts of horrors have been committed in the name of “The Spirit of Vatican II”, so I thought I might have a look through the Council documents and see what Vatican II really said. Here’s a quote from Dei Verbum as a starter:
“It is clear, therefore, that sacred tradition, Sacred Scripture and the teaching authority of the Church, in accord with God’s most wise design, are so linked and joined together that one cannot stand without the others, and that all together and each in its own way under the action of the one Holy Spirit contribute effectively to the salvation of souls.”
Dei Verbum, II, 9
This year Easter is on March 23rd and this is the earliest it (and therefore Lent) will ever be in our lifetime. There is one possible earlier date, March 22nd, but the last time it occurred was in 1818 and the next time it is due is in 2285.
So today is what in the old calendar used to be called Sexagesima Sunday, meaning that it was approximately the 60th day before Lent (from the Latin sexagesimus “sixtieth”). The preceding Sunday, Septuagesima “seventieth”, and the following Sunday Quinquagesima “fiftieth” formed the Sundays of the pre-Lenten season or “Septuagesimatide” which ends on Ash Wednesday when Lent proper begins.
The Collect for this Sunday was in honour of St Paul, because on this day the “Station” in Rome was in the Church of St Paul-without-the-Walls
Deus, qui conspicis quia ex nulla nostra actione confidimus : concede propítius ; ut contra adversa omnia Doctoris Gentium protectione muniamur.
O God, who seest that we put not our trust in any deed of our own, mercifully grant that by the protection of the Teacher of the Gentiles, we may be defended against all adversities.
The “Station” was the church in which a special pontifical high mass for the whole of Rome (and by extension the whole of Christendom) was said on the Sundays in Lent. The main churches of Rome took their turn as the Station church each Sunday.
Guerenger says of today:
A Rome, la Station est dans la Basilique de Saint-Paul-hors-les-Murs. C’est autour du tombeau du Docteur des nations, du propagateur de la divine semence, du père de tant de peuples par sa prédication, que l’Eglise Romaine réunit les fidèles en ce jour où elle veut leur rappeler que le Seigneur a épargné la terre, à la condition qu’elle se peuplera de vrais croyants et d’adorateurs de son Nom.
At Rome, the Station is in the Basilica of Saint Paul-without-the-Walls. It is around the tomb of the Doctor of the nations, of the propagator of the divine seed, of the father of so many peoples by his preaching, that the Roman Church reunites the faithful on this day when she wishes to remind them that the Lord has spared the earth on condition that she is peopled with true believers and worshippers of his Name.
I have no idea whether this tradition is still carried out in St Paul’s-without-the-Walls under the new calendar. But I can’t see anything on its website to suggest that it is.
The Blessed Virgin is not called Our Lady of Good Counsel for nothing. She is always giving me bits of good advice. One of these has been how to pray for people. We are not talking here about praying for the major people and situations in your life, but for more casual prayer needs which may come into your attention.
I think it’s the experience of most Christians that certain people or situations “light up” for them, in the sense that they feel called to pray for that person or situation. The problem is that often they don’t know how to do it. A few mumbled words seem inadequate somehow.
Anyway my Lady was quite specific about how to pray in such a situation. Whenever you feel called to pray for someone or something, you should hold their image in your mind, say their name and then two Ave Marias. You should continue to pray every day for that person in the same way until you feel some form of release from the burden of prayer. The ideal is a specific time of day in which you go through all the people you are currently praying for, though of course you can add to that during the day if a new situation comes to your attention.
Don’t make the list too long. Pray only for those people and situations that you feel called to pray for.
… and of course if someone asks you to pray for them.
One thing that you can be sure of if you make a serious attempt to attain sanctity is that the Devil will suddenly start taking notice of you. Instead of trying to lull you to sleep as in the past, he will make determined and continuous assaults on you.
I always used to wonder why the saints used to complain about the Devil tempting them with horrible and blasphemous thoughts. I used to wonder this until I entered the battlefield myself.
Our Lady told me what to do with these thoughts - don’t hide them from her - share them with her.
Initially I was reluctant to do that (some of them were definitely not the sort of thing you would wish to share with the Holy Mother of God). But when I overcame my reluctance, I found it worked. In fact as I’ve said before, Our Lady has a remarkable sense of humour. When I’ve shared the latest thought that the Devil has put in my mind, she often says “He said that?” and then we chortle together over it.
Exit Devil, stage left.
I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read this: Clergy bless New York abortion clinic as “sacred ground”
Please pray for these people. They are putting their immortal souls in terrible danger, especially since as teachers they come under double judgment.
First, Moloch, horrid King, besmeared with blood
Of human sacrifice, and parents’ tears;
Though, for the noise of drums and timbrels loud,
Their children’s cries unheard that passed through fire
To his grim idol. Him the Ammonite
Worshiped in Rabba and her watery plain,
In Argob and in Basan, to the stream
Of utmost Arnon. Nor content with such
Audacious neighbourhood, the wisest heart
Of Solomon he led by fraud to build
His temple right against the temple of God
On that opprobrious hill, and made his grove
The pleasant valley of Hinnom, Tophet thence
And black Gehenna called, the type of Hell.”
( Paradise Lost, i. 391-405)