WHAT IS SPIRITUAL CHILDHOOD 1?
“RECEIVE THE KINGDOM OF GOD LIKE A CHILD.”
Our Lord Jesus Christ told us: “Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it (Mk 10:15).” With these words, Our Lord wants us to practice what St. Therese of Lisieux described in her Autobiography and what St. Josemaria coined as “spiritual childhood.” But what is spiritual childhood?
We are all sons and daughters of God. God is our Father. We have to be convinced of this wonderful reality—our divine sonship or filiation— made possible by the Incarnation of Our Lord Jesus Christ such that it has to be the foundation of our Christian life. In our dealings with God, we should not lose sight that we are his little children whom He loves greatly.
Little children— toddlers—, possess traits which we must “re-acquire” and practice if we are to receive and enter the kingdom of God. What are these traits?
1. Little children are HUMBLE in the sense that they acknowledge their SENSE OF DEPENDENCE on their parents and their TRUSTING ABANDONMENT and SUBMISSION to them as well.
- They have the humility of recognizing that by themselves they can do nothing without the help of their parents or elder siblings.
- They see themselves as VULNERABLE, INDIGENT and DEFENSELESS in need of their parents’ protection
- THEY DO NOT CONSIDER THEMSELVES AS SELF-SUFFICIENT but rather find their security in their parents, and lives their life with a HEALTHY NONCHALANCE, WITH NO WORRIES, with NO CARES at all because they rest on their parents.
2. They possess both SIMPLICITY and SINCERITY which make them honest and straightforward in their dealings with other people.
- A child DOES NOT HARBOR GRUDGES, NOR DOES HE COMPLICATE his life.
- He speaks with CLARITY, WITHOUT HALF-TRUTHS, with a CANDOR which oftentimes provokes a smile to the listener. He is UNSUSPECTING and TRUSTFUL.
3. Their INTERIOR PURITY makes them attractive and always pleasing to the adults.
4. A toddler knows of his limited capacity: HE IS CAPABLE OF DOING ONLY LITTLE THINGS. But he knows as well that those LITTLE THINGS DONE OUT OF LOVE make his father and mother happy.
5. When a little child stumbles, he may cry, but at the same time, he’s WILLING TO LIFTED UP TO BE HELPED by the loving arms of his father or mother. He easily forgets the fall and returns to his usual game and begins again.
6. A child is DARING: he can ask his father or mother of the unthinkable because he trusts on their capacity.
Dear friends: IN OUR SPIRITUAL LIFE, IN OUR CHRISTIAN LIFE, WE MUST BEHAVE AS LITTLE CHILDREN—AS TODDLERS— BEFORE GOD. The fact that Jesus came into the world as a babe, as a child is significant and teaches us the importance of spiritual childhood in our path to holiness. We must learn to humbly acknowledge our dependence on God the Father, abandoning ourselves into His hands, completely trusting on his Providence, without any worries, always in need of His love, mercy, pardon and grace. “God resists the proud and gives his grace to the humble (Jm 4:6).”
We need to be sincere, simple and daring like a little child in our dealings with God, for such is what we are in God eyes: little children. As St. Josemaria said: “Be small, very small. No more than two years old, three at the most. For older children are little rascals who already want to deceive their parents with bare-faced lies.
It is because they have the inclination to sin — ‘fomes peccati’ — but they lack the experience of evil, which will teach them the science of sinning and show them how to lend an appearance of truth to the falseness of their deceits.
They have lost their simplicity, and without simplicity it is impossible to be a child before God. (St. Josemaria, The Way,’ n. 868).”
A blessed day ahead!
Fr. Rolly Arjonillo
SUGGESTED TEXTS ON SPIRITUAL CHILDHOOD FOR MEDITATION:
St. Josemaria, “The Way,” Chapter 41 on Spiritual Childhood in http://www.escrivaworks.org/book/the_way-chapter-41.htm
St. Josemaria, “The Way,” Chapter 42 on Life of Childhood in http://www.escrivaworks.org/book/the_way-chapter-42.htm
On texts, essays and articles on spiritual childhood in St. Josemaria and St. Therese of Lisieux see http://www.spiritualchildhood.info
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