On your path to God, do not be surprised that you discover your own misery and nothingness more clearly. You should receive these revelations with joy. For, if you were perfect, then you would not need God. S.C. Biela, Open Wide the Door to Christ, (Ft.Collins, CO: IAMF, 2005), 42
St. Therese of the Child Jesus teaches us ‘to recognize our nothingness, to [await] everything from God as a little child [awaits] everything from its father.’ An expression of this awaiting can be the gesture in which you trustfully stretch out your hands like a beggar toward God. Ibid 47.
This was a new concept for me. I had spent most of my life “earning” my way to heaven. I had not understood that God gives me everything, and the only thing I can give in return is my sinfulness. I had not realized that to “stand in the truth” meant for me to admit my unfaithfulness and my sinfulness. This was going to be too hard for me and my inner self wanted to rebel at the thought. But God showed me this “way” by slowly stripping me of my spiritual “strengths” as seen by my following experiences:
· I used to be able to pray a rosary every day, which included a long list of intentions to cover all those family members, friends, and others who needed prayers. I felt pretty good at the end of every rosary, giving myself a pat on my spiritual back. Yet, soon my rosaries started to fall apart with chains breaking and losing beads. Then family life became a big distraction, and schedules interfered. Quickly enough I stopped praying the Rosary every day – and was lucky to get one in once a week, if at all.
· I went through a period when I made spending time in front of the Blessed Sacrament in the Church a priority, and visited Jesus every day. [I am privileged to have keys to get into the Church.] Again I felt myself climbing my spiritual ladder as I internally acknowledged how “special” I was to be doing this daily prayer with my Lord. Soon I was beset with distractions during the prayer time by my own thoughts, and then by the Pastor, and finally by the cold temps inside the Church. I saw how easily I gave up this practice when I didn’t “feel” good emotionally about the prayer time, or when I became uncomfortable in the setting.
· This Lent I thought I would pray the Litany of Humility every morning to start my day off right. Well, half way into Lent I realized I did not want to pray the litany and did not mean the words when praying as I was afraid those items in the litany may actually occur in my life.
God has allowed me to see that when I try to do spiritual exercises on my own I fail and my intentions are not pure. But He also has led me to this spirituality so I may learn how to stand in the truth with the Blessed Mother. It is too hard for me to admit my nothingness on my own, but with her - WE can. The Blessed Mother lived a life of humility and hiddenness, and never tried to “earn” God’s love. Her deeds were done out of humble love and she gave God the credit for the graces for all the things she accomplished.
It has been a struggle to get over my belief that I can earn heaven, but it has also been freeing. Knowing I am entrusted to the Blessed Mother gives me the courage to stand in the truth with her, and knowing God loves me as I am, helps US to admit my nothingness to Him. Also, with the Blessed Mother WE can persevere in spiritual exercises - doing them out of love instead of desire to earn merits.
When you discover your own spiritual misery, try to call upon Mary for help as often as possible saying: I do not want to admit that I am like a beggar who has nothing on my own. I constantly attribute God’s gifts to myself. I want to be rich before the Lord. I beg you, Mother of mercy, humble servant of the Lord, to stand before God as a beggar. Please ask Him for mercy for me. You yourself open the door of my soul, my life, to Him. Ibid 51-52.