Rushville Republican

Church

November 24, 2012

Keeping the Faith

The “Little Way”

RUSHVILLE — One of my favorite Brennan Manning quotes is about heaven, but only indirectly. It’s more about how to best live our lives today. Manning says, “Heaven will be filled with preschoolers. No adults will be allowed admittance.” Brennan’s quote duplicates the words of Jesus, “The Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like children,” Christ said.

Jesus wasn’t idealizing childhood or emphasizing a child’s innocence with those words. No, he was pointing to the status of a child. If you want to get somewhere spiritually, Jesus says, you don’t get there by clawing your way to the top. You have to descend to the lowest possible place in the social strata. You humble yourself, because you have to get small to fit through the door that leads to the Kingdom of God.

So, every time we feel ourselves being led away from childlike simplicity and dependence upon God, we must return to the nursery, remembering that there can be no status-striving in the ways of God. We resist and remove those things that lure us into a state where we are not wholly and completely dependent upon God.

No, the world doesn’t operate this way, but this is exactly why the witness of the church is required. In a society marked by smear campaigns, scraping and fighting to get to the top of the heap, grotesque levels of inequality and greed, broken promises and broken deals, cheating and killing just to get to be number one, when we become as humble children, we show society a better way to live.

Thankfully, from time to time, God gifts the church with those rare individuals who remind us of Jesus’ words. One of those people was a French teenager who lived a century ago named Therese Martin, better known today as St. Therese of Lisieux. Therese entered a Carmelite convent when she was only 15, with one ambition: To become a saint.

The Carmelites certainly lent themselves to her pursuit. The Carmelites demanded strict obedience, continuous prayers, long periods of fasting and silence, vows of isolation and poverty, and overall a severe approach to spirituality. This was the perfect place for one looking to achieve the peak of the religious honor system. And this was the exact place that Therese utterly failed.

Six years into her cloistered life in the convent, and suffering from poor health and debilitating bouts of depression, she realized that all her striving and religious go-getting was useless. She was exhausted by it all, and simply could not do it. Giving up on sainthood altogether, and despairing of life, it was about this time that she read a single line from the book of Proverbs that changed everything, “Whoso is little, let him come to me.”

She named this discovery “The Little Way,” realizing that the only way up, was down. For the rest of her very short life (she died at the age of 24), she quit trying so hard at trying so hard, and learned to become a child once again.

She wrote, “Children are always giving trouble, falling down, getting themselves dirty, breaking things; but all this does not shake their parents’ love for them…I rejoice to be little because only children, and those who are like them, will be admitted to the heavenly banquet.”

Often critiqued as overly simplistic and naïve, Therese and her “Little Way” are rejected by those who feel the need for greater complexity or intellectualism in their faith. Maybe these critics reject her conclusions because they simply feel the need for more; more responsibility, more steps up the religious ladder to the top, more ways to gain respect, status, or a higher standing, and the need for a more honorable reputation.

Yet, Therese was right on target, and not because her way ironically led to her sainthood. She was right because her way reflected the way of Jesus. And reflecting Jesus is more than enough, because his way, “The Little Way,” always leads us to abandon ourselves like a child, into the arms of God.

Ronnie McBrayer is a syndicated columnist, speaker, and author of multiple books. You can read more and receive regular e-columns in your inbox at www.ronniemcbrayer.me.

1
Text Only
Church
  • Church briefs Big Flatrock Christian Church Big Flatrock Christian Church invites everyone to the Easter services. Maundy Thursday service will be at 6 p.m. April 17 with a dinner following. Easter Sunrise Service will be at 7 a.m. April 20 with a pitch-in breakfa

    April 11, 2014

  • Why I am happy to pay my taxes and other mendacities Last week I was getting along just fine. Things were being accomplished and I was rather enjoying myself. Dutifully, I was checking off item after item on my "to-do-list." I love it when a plan comes together. However, at the top of my exuberance, th

    April 11, 2014

  • Keeping the Faith: Palm Sunday sufferings Palm Sunday, celebrated this weekend by the world's Christians, is customarily a day of joy. Directed toward the event known as "The Triumphal Entry," Palm Sunday marks the day that Jesus came riding into Jerusalem, just days before his death, welcom

    April 11, 2014

  • Church briefs Main Street Christian Church Main Street Christian Church continues their Lenten and Pre-Easter sermon series, The Road Through the Cross with this Sunday's message, "The Road Always Goes Through Failure" as we examines the disciple Peter's denial of

    April 4, 2014

  • Francis recalls John Paul II's death 9 years ago VATICAN CITY (AP) - Pope Francis on Wednesday hailed Pope John Paul II's legacy as he marked the ninth anniversary of the Polish-born pontiff's death. A crowd of tens of thousands of tourists and pilgrims, including some from Poland, applauded when F

    April 4, 2014

  • Where have all the men in white hats gone? When I was growing up you could always tell who the good men were by the white hats they wore. Bad men always wore black hats. That made it rather convenient for those of us who were watching so we knew who would be winning at the end. When you were

    April 4, 2014

  • Notes from Angel the Church Mouse Hi, all you kind folks in Readership Land. Mercy! March has been a month of ups and downs on the degrees. One day you need heavy coats, another raincoats and then lighter coats. Me little toes were getting so chilly and me little toffers chattered so

    March 28, 2014

  • Church Briefs First Baptist Church I was flying in an airplane one day and found myself gazing down at tiny cars in the traffic far below. My eyes zeroed in on one particular car and I began to think, "I wonder how that person's day is going. I wonder if it is a g

    March 28, 2014

  • A wonderful chocolate fantasy Within the confines of our blissful domicile, an ongoing controversy has all but come to an end. I like it when things are solved and I happen to be right. This time I was right. After all, if it is on TV it must be right! Controversies are not reall

    March 28, 2014

  • Keeping the Faith: What we carry Accumulate. It's a dangerous little word that is employed to describe gently falling snow; the harmless growth of lint on the top bookshelf; or the inevitable gathering of ragged boxes, rusty tools, kits and caboodles found inside our garages. But th

    March 28, 2014

Featured Ads
AP Video
Disbanding Muslim Surveillance Draws Praise Hundreds Missing After South Korean Ferry Sinks Passengers Abuzz After Plane Hits Swarm of Bees Boston Bomb Scare Defendant Appears in Court Pistorius Trial: Adjourned Until May 5 Diaz Gets Physical for New Comedy Raw: Ferry Sinks Off South Korean Coast Town, Victims Remember Texas Blast Freeze Leaves Florida Panhandle With Dead Trees At Boston Marathon, a Chance to Finally Finish Are School Dress Codes Too Strict? Raw: Fatal Ferry Boat Accident Suspicious Bags Found Near Marathon Finish Line Boston Marks the 1st Anniversary of Bombing NYPD Ends Muslim Surveillance Program 8-year-old Boy Gets His Wish: Fly Like Iron Man Sex Offenders Arrested in Slayings of CA Women India's Transgenders Celebrate Historic Ruling Tributes Mark Boston Bombing Anniversary Raw: Kan. Shooting Suspect Faces Judge
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.