Thursday, June 16, 2011

We lost it years ago…

Let us therefore not be anxious because we are getting better, but rather worse. Let us give up the idea of spiritual progress, if that means being more holy, more devout. God meets us in the absence of things, all sorts of things. And this is good news. Because we are not getting any better, we are getting worse. We are not making any progress, we are regressing fast.

The only qualification is to have no qualifications, the only admission ticket is to admit we don’t have one, we lost it years ago. The trouble is we have been looking for it ever since. Just say, “I haven’t got anything to show you. I can’t prove a thing. I can’t really tell you who I am or provide a good reference – or any reference – or tell you whom to ring up, I’m an unqualified, unskilled, inexperienced non-entity.”

Say that, and what he will say is, “Come in my dear. You are the very person we’ve been looking for!”

John Fenton, from TSSF Contemplatives Newsletter, July 2011

Anyone who believes in coincidence should have been with me this morning. After a troubled night, I woke feeling exactly as Fenton describes here. After I’d washed and dressed, later than usual, I picked up the post, and there was the new issue of the TSSF Contemplatives Newsletter. “Oh, great!” I thought, “I’m supposed to be one of those. What a joke…” But I sat down to read it over a mug of coffee and a piece of toast, and there was this passage from Fenton looking at me, set in bold type. Somewhere, I’m profoundly grateful. God has found me, as he always does, wherever I try to hide from him.

For some odd reason, the deeper my happiness, the deeper my penitence needs to be. This is not false humility, at least I hope it isn’t, but merely the increasing sense that I don’t deserve anything really. What I am is so intrinsically flawed, so broken, that I can’t even lay claim to gradual improvement. Grace is all I can lay claim to, and that only by means of – by way of – the Cross.

Tomorrow we are setting off for Norfolk, to join the TSSF Pilgrimage for the 950th Anniversary of the Shrine at Walsingham on Sunday. I’ll take the laptop along, but I don’t know how easy it will be to get Wi-Fi. If I can, I’ll post from there.

Orate pro nobis!


  1. Anonymous5:13 pm

    This well done post reminds me of one of the main points of St John's "Ascent of Mount Carmel"- that to remain in the dark, relying on faith within life's mystery is a very good thing and not something to lament. Naturally difficult, yet divine.

  2. What a lovely post, Mike...
    the deeper my happiness, the deeper my penitence needs to be.
    Yes, I don't know why, but I can only agree :-)

  3. Thank you, both, for your most thoroughly answered prayers!