“Our once great western Christian civilization is dying. If this matters to followers of Jesus Christ, then we must set aside our denominational differences and work together to strengthen the things that remain and reclaim what has been lost. Evangelicals and Catholics must stand together to re-establish that former Christian culture and moral consensus. We have the numbers and the organization but the question is this: Do we have the will to win this present spiritual battle for Jesus Christ against secularism? Will we prayerfully and cooperatively work toward a new Christian spiritual revival ― or will we choose to hunker down in our churches and denominationalisms and watch everything sink into the spiritual and moral abyss of a New Dark Age?” - Mark Davis Pickup

Friday, December 22, 2017


The Incarnation of Christ was of such cosmic significance it altered and shook the heavens. A star appeared. The2nd Chapter of the Gospel of Luke tells us that a heavenly host appeared to shepherds at the time of Christ's birth: "And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angels, praising God and saying: 'Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests.'" The angelic host spoke of an earthly peace for people within themselves and toward others. The New Jerome Biblical Commentary comments on this passage of Scripture: 

"The angels' revelation of the meaning of Jesus is accepted by lowly shepherds and pondered by Mary, who models for believers the necessity of reflecting upon and embodying peace." 
The Holy Family
by Juan Simón Gutiérrez, 1680

I think Godly peace is most at home in human simplicity and simpleness. Perhaps that's why the angelic host appeared to shepherds, and Jesus was born into a humble family.  

Recently I watched a documentary about the cloistered Carmelite nuns at Wolverhampton, in the west midlands of England. One nun said simplicity can bring truth to people. It is true if you are searching for truth.[1] Jesus said, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."[2]

Our interior life must remain as simple and quiet as possible if we are to be sensitive to the presence of the Holy Spirit and the Word of truth. Christ is the Word that is God.[3] The psalmist wrote under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, "Be still and know, that I am God."[4] Our interior life must not be cluttered by the cares and worries that incessantly clamour for our attention.[5] We must learn to be still even in the storms of life and trust God unreservedly. 

There is wisdom and truth to be found in simplicity. It can be discovered in solitudes of cloistered environments. My solitudes 
have often come from being shut-in my little house during brittle, snowbound Canadian winters. I have advanced multiple sclerosis so I dare not venture out in my wheelchair. Days are short and nights are long. I wait in stillness for Christ. He comes to me with gentle peace.  

Our technological world can distract us with the allure and promise of pleasures. Pope Francis wrote that a "technological society has succeeded in multiplying
occasions of pleasure yet found it very difficult to engender joy."[6]  It is in joy that we encounter God. He is the source and meaning to our lives and humanity. 

Joy can be traced back to the simpleness of our earliest life. We did not know how to express our first encounters with this sense of ecstasy. They simply came for a fleeting moment – from far beyond us – then vanished without warning. Life became ordinary again. We were left with a vague yearning for somewhere or something we did not know. We knew we were known and loved before our beginnings when Something or Someone was with us and loved us.[7] This primordial knowledge was inexplicable (it still is) yet joy bore witness to it. C.S. Lewis wrote about being surprised by this divine joy in his wonderful little book, Surprised by Joy and again in his essay entitled "The Weight of Glory." 

I think it has something to do with what the Scriptures reveal about God: "He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end."[8]

In matters of simplicity and joy, babies and small children have much to teach their elders. There is a difference between simplicity 
and simpleness. Simplicity is a way of being while simpleness is a state of being. It embarrasses me to mention this primordial joy or ecstasy but I think that if your reach back to your earliest memory you will discover what it was there. C.S. Lewis said this about the spiritual experiences of small children:

“From our own childhoods we remember that before our elders thought us capable of “understanding” anything, we already had spiritual experiences as pure and momentous as any we have undergone since, ... From Christianity itself we learn there is a level ― in the long run the only level of importance ― on which the learned and the adult have no advantage at all over the simple and the child.”[9]

Jesus said, "Truly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven."[10] Notice that Christ said childlike not childish. Just as small children completely trust their parents, we are called completely trust Christ and be obedient to him and His word. 

I have spent much of my adult life trying to recapture the joy I knew as a small child. In a strange and unexpected way, chronic and serious neurological disease has blessed me in that regard. By losing my health, my career at an early age, and my sense of self-sufficiency, extraneous things in my life have been stripped away,
Thomas a Kempis
leaving only that which is essential. Thomas a Kempis wrote:

"Sometimes it is to our advantage to endure misfortunes and adversities, for they make us enter our inner selves and acknowledge that we are in a place of exile and that we ought not to rely on anything in this world."[11]

Those words resonate with me. I am an old man now. More thirty years of serious neurological disease have turned me inward to seek the reality of the unseen.

The Apostle Paul said:

Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being is being renewed day by day.
For our light affliction, which is but a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things that are seen, but the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal."[12]

All I have left that means anything to me is Divine love, which kindles both simplicity and spiritual simpleness. Together they provide fertile ground for joy to take root and blossom as my constant possession in eternity. 


[1] Jeremiah 29.13. Also see Deuteronomy 4.29, Proverbs 8.17,
[2] John 16.4.
[3] John 1.1, cf. Colossians 1.15
[4] Psalm 49.11.
[5] Mark 4.19.
[7] Psalm 139.13-16.
[8] Ecclesiates 3.11-12.
[9] C.S. Lewis, THE PROBLEM OF PAIN, (NEW YORK: HarperCollins, 1966) p.74.
[10] Matthew 18.3.
[11] Thomas à Kempis, The Imitation of Christ (NEW YORK: RandomHouse, 1998) p.15.
[12] 2 Corinthians 4.16-18. Cf. Ephesians 3.17-19, Hebrews 11.1.

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