Happy New Year

And now it is time to put the New Year’s resolution into practice.

Once again the resolution, in practice, is to practice. This is a practice tradition after all.

Our practice, of course, is self-sacrifice. The only sacrifice expected of us: sacrifice of the self.

Ours is such a simple tradition, simplicity itself. We begin our practice with repentance, of course. Then, having engaged self-awareness, awareness of our existential situation, we extend our self-awareness to the more immediate source of all being, the true Self, through self-abandonment. Such a simple, direct path. Self-actualization occurs through self-abandonment. This is our practice. Simplicity itself.

Unless you take up your cross you cannot be a follower of mine….
If you want to be a follower of mine you must take up your cross...
He who will lose himself will save himself...
Abandon self daily.

A good place to begin the year, every year, is with some reflection on this call to action.

Beginning with repentance we reflect on ourselves, our experience of self, recognizing that we are our habits, and that it is with steady, daily practice we replace our established habits with preferred habits. Ultimately, we are called to habituate ourselves to a condition of being characterised by selflessness.

I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. (Mt 11:25)

Now we have a second call to action, accompanied by some practical advice on how to proceed.

I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. (Mt 18:3)

Yes, once again we have the call to action: unless you change. This time He gives us a method.

Transformation of attitude: become like little children. A condition of being characterized by selflessness.

We may reflect that ours is a simple tradition. Just this condition of being, as experienced, is our focus. Simplicity itself.

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden light. (Mt 11:29-30)

With just a little initiative, an act of will, we take His yoke and learn from Him, engaging this practice, this transformation, daily. Conversion may go on all through the day, everyday.

Whoever humbles himself like this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. (Mt.18:4)

Ascesis: practice. 

See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven. (Mt. 18:10)

  • Editor

Passing beyond all that is naturally and spiritually intelligible, or comprehensible, a person ought to desire with all their might to attain what in this life is unknowable and unimaginable.

And parting company with all a person can taste and feel, temporally and spiritually, a person must ardently long for what surpasses all taste and feeling.

To be empty and free for this, a person should by no means cling to what is received spiritually or sensitively, but consider it of little import.

The more esteem a person gives to all their knowledge, experience and imagining (whether spiritual or not), the more a person subtracts from the Supreme Good, and the more the delay in the journey toward Him.

By blinding the faculties along this road, a person will see light, as the Saviour proclaims in the Gospel: “I have come into this world for judgement, that they who see not, may see, and that they who see may become blind.” [Jn. 9.39] Literally these words should be understood in reference to the spiritual road, that is: Anyone who lives in darkness and blinds themself to all their natural lights will have supernatural vision, and anyone who wants to lean on some light of their own will become blind, and be held back on this road leading to union.

  • St John of the Cross (Asc II.4)

To explain things better I want to use a helpful comparison.

The silkworm…

Well once this silkworm is grown it begins to spin silk and build the house wherein it will die.

His Majesty Himself, as He does in this prayer of union, becomes the dwelling place we build for ourselves.

Therefore, courage my daughters! Let’s be quick to do this work and weave this little cocoon by getting rid of our self-love and self-will, our attachment to any earthly thing.

Let it die; let this silkworm die, as it does in completing what it was created to do! And you will see how we see God, as well as ourselves placed inside His Greatness, as is this little silkworm within its cocoon.

Now, then, let’s see what this silkworm does, for that’s the reason I’ve said everything else. When the soul is in this prayer, truly dead to the world, a little white butterfly comes forth. Oh, greatness of God! How transformed the soul is when it comes out of this prayer after having been placed within the greatness of God and so closely joined with Him for a little while.

Oh, now, to see the restlessness of this little butterfly, even though it has never been quieter and calmer in its life, is something to praise God for! And the difficulty is that it doesn’t know where to alight and rest. Since it has experienced such wonderful rest, all that it sees on earth displeases it, especially if God gives it this wine often.

So, there is no reason to be surprised that this little butterfly seeks rest again since it feels estranged from earthly things. Well then, where will the poor little thing go? It can’t return to where it came from; as was said, we are powerless, however much we do, to bring about this favour until God is again pleased to grant it. O Lord, what new trials begin for this soul! Who would say such a thing after a favour so sublime? Briefly, in one way or another, there must be a cross while we live.

I don’t mean to say that those who arrive here do not have peace; they do have it, and it is very deep. For the trials themselves are so valuable and have such good roots that although very severe they give rise to peace and happiness.

  • St Teresa of Jesus

This is a venture in which God alone is sought and gained.

As regards this road to union, entering on the road means leaving one’s own road; and leaving one’s own mode implies entry into what has no mode, that is, God.

– St John of the Cross