The Fruit of the Spirit – from Henri Nouwen’s Bread for the Journey

How does the Spirit of God manifest itself through us?  Often we think that to witness means to speak up in defense of God.  This idea can make us very self-conscious.  We wonder where and how we can make God the topic of our conversations and how to convince our families, friends, neighbors, and colleagues of God’s presence in their lives.  But this explicit missionary endeavour often comes from an insecure heart and, therefore, easily creates divisions.

The way God’s Spirit manifests itself most convincingly is through its fruits:  “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22).  These fruits speak for themselves.  It is therefore always better to raise the question “How can I grow in the Spirit?”  than the question  “How can I make others believe in the Spirit?”

For further reflection …

“My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.” – 1 Corinthians 2: 4,5 (NIV)


The Narrow Path

Holiness is a steep, jagged, and narrow path. Worldliness is subtle, smooth, and wide. For which do I hope and seek each day?

-from Tweet Inspiration


Christ is a gentle leader, but he calls us to total holiness. Now and then men and women are raised up to challenge us by the absoluteness of their dedication, the vigor of their spirit, the depth of their conversion. The fact that we cannot duplicate their lives does not change the call to us to be totally open to God in our own particular circumstances.

From Saint of the Day: St. Romuald
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From The Art of Letting Go by Richard Rohr

We don’t come to God by doing it right. Please believe me on this. We come to God by doing it wrong. Any guide of souls knows this to be true. If we come to God by being perfect, no one is going to come to God. This absolutely levels the playing field. Our failures open our hearts of stone and move the rigid mind space toward understanding and patience. It is in doing it wrong, being rejected, and experiencing pain that we are lead to total reliance upon God. I wish it were not true. But all I know at this point in my journey is that God has let me do just about everything wrong, so I could fully experience how God can do everything so utterly right. I don’t know how else I could know that so fully in my gut.

This is why Christianity has as its central symbol of transformation a naked, bleeding man who is the picture of failing, losing, and dying . . . and who is really winning–and revealing the secret pattern to those who will join him there. Everyone wins because if there’s one thing we all have in common, if we’re honest, it’s our weakness and powerlessness in one–but usually many–areas of our lives. There’s a broken, wounded part inside each of us.

In a world where imperfection seems to be everywhere, the humble and honest have a huge head start in spiritual matters and can first and always find God in their simple lives. Jesus says, using the present tense, “To the poor in spirit the kingdom of heaven belongs” (Matthew 5:3). It is a now experience, not a later reward.

Entering the spiritual journey through the so-called negative, or what seems like the back door, takes all elitism out of spirituality, which is its most common temptation. We are not to be rewarded for our virtue later; virtue is its own reward–now–for both me and for others. The usual claims which appeal to our ego self (“I am an advanced person”) are of no use whatsoever and are actually revealed as much of the problem. The quickest ticket to heaven, enlightenment, or salvation is calmly acknowledged littleness. Then you have nothing to prove, to protect, or to promote. You are already at home base. Our conscious need for daily mercy is our only real boarding pass for heaven. The ego does not like that very much, but the soul fully understands.