by Catherine Doherty.
When I was a young wife in Petrograd, the city was in chaos when the communists took over. My husband Boris and I were sleeping on the floor after everything was taken away from us.
I said to him, "Boris, I am afraid." He yawned and said, "Why? You are a Christian."
That was a pretty good answer, and I never forgot it. If I am a Christian, can I give way to hopelessness? No. The resurrected Christ is in our midst.
What we have to battle in this day and age is our own hopelessness. Many people are depressed. They are depressed by their image of themselves.
Well, the picture they see in the mirror is false. Then, on top of this depression and in it and over it comes a terrible loneliness.
The answer to it is so utterly simple. The answer is faith. A very small word, but one of such immense power that it can lift you to the very feet of God. Faith in who you are as a child of God, faith in what you stand for, faith in where you are going.
These days, who of us doesn’t need faith, love, peace, compassion, understanding? So many of us cannot escape the fears that bay at us like a pack of wolves at our heels.
And so many of these fears are nonsensical. Let us stop listening to them.
We don’t have to worry about our sinfulness. We just need to go to confession. And forget all that nonsense about being ugly and unlovable. Throw yourself into the arms of God who incarnated himself to become like you and me.
Faith tells you that you are loved by God. Without it, you go down into the pit of your own hell. The wrong self-image puts you right into this pit. Look in a mirror and repeat the words from Genesis: and God looked at all that he had made and saw that it was good (Gn 1:31).
When you have an inferiority complex—and who of us doesn’t?—you say things like, "I just don’t believe that what God made is good. Look at me; I’m a louse." Don’t challenge God like this. Everything he made is good—including you.
How can you have a wrong image of something or someone God created and touched? He created and touched you.
You passed through his mind and you were begotten. Anyone who passes through God’s mind, anyone whom God touched, cannot be this horrible person we think we are. No! Each one of us is beautiful. We’re beautiful because he touched us.
Sometimes this is very difficult for us to accept. We look at ourselves and say, "He made us in his image, equal to himself in a manner of speaking, heir to his Son? This just can’t be. He hasn’t looked into my heart. He doesn’t know what I am made of."
We say these things because we haven’t looked at ourselves with the merciful, tender, compassionate eyes of God. So we walk in despair half the time. As a result, our ability to realize that God is both in our midst and in us—a realization that is the fruit of faith—fades and disappears.
This is the main reason, it seems to me, why the Father sent his Son to us, why the Word was made flesh and dwelt amongst us as one of us.
The Father, having given us the fantastic gift of faith, wanted to help us accept this awesome gift. He sent his Son Jesus Christ so that we, unbelieving, might believe. We are like children; we need to touch.
Every human being is a mystery. When the mystery of man enters into the mystery of God, faith comes forth with joy.
When faith is there, all is clear, and a love relationship with God enters into your heart. When you have faith, it is such a simple thing to accept his love, even if you do not understand why he loves you.
How do we get faith? The only way to approach it is on our knees, through prayer. We should not only kneel, but be prostrate before him, falling on our faces, imploring, crying out for growth in faith, so that we may believe ever more firmly, not only in God but also in one another—we who are fashioned in God’s image.
Yes, we can reach God very simply when we prostrate ourselves before him. When I come before God like this, I am transformed. And I need to be transformed.
Here I am, a proud and arrogant human being, capable of walking on the moon, and of making fantastic instruments that send us pictures of other planets. In my arrogance, I am once again polishing the apple to eat, so to speak, to prove that I am equal to God.
Then suddenly, God gives me the grace to realize that my works are nothing. God is God and I am not. I am his creature, a poor man and I realize he meant it when he said, Without me you can do nothing (Jn 15:5).
Prostration is humility. It’s an acknowledgement of who I am and who he is.
A "prostrated" Church is a Church of what I call the humiliati: the poor, the forgotten, the lonely. It includes the widow who put her last two pennies into the temple collection, and the prostitute and the thief.
It includes the mother who doesn’t know how to get enough money to feed and clothe her family. It includes all who sorrow, all who suffer, all who seek, and all who are turning their faces to God. All these enter into faith. All are prostrated before God.
We cannot reach God through books. We can only reach God as he reached us: by covering our brokenness with his incarnation. By incarnating himself, he has made us divine.
We partake of this incarnation through prayer and through the deep silence of the prostrated Church. It is not the silence of passivity, but the silence of fire and flame that possesses any person who approaches the invisible.
Faith grows with each prostration of ours. Faith grows with each acknowledgement within us of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Only children believe in mysteries. As we lie prostrate before God, we have to cry out in faith, "Lord, give me the heart of a child and the awesome courage to live it out as an adult."
Then, when we arise from this strange, humble position, we, like children, can dare to explain the unexplainable. As the Lord said, It is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs (Mt 19:14).
—Adapted from Re-Entry into Faith, (2012), pp. 16-22, available from MH Publications.
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