Grace of the ChildlikeDOM ANSCAR VONIER, O.S.B.
Now what are we to understand by that wonderful thing, spiritual childhood, the one attitude which makes the kingdom of heaven possible?
... We must be converted and become as little children. Our minds must be pure and unsophisticated and natural. We must be converted and get rid of all those accretions which come to us from false training, from false traditions and standards, rid all that hardness of heart which is the natural condition of the human race.
We must become cheerful, ready to receive things much greater than ourselves. We must have the wonderful gift of loving goodness. We must, in one word, be capable of admiration. We must feel elation when we see something that is perfect instead of taking it to pieces and criticizing it, looking at it in a grudging and ungenerous way.
Instead of that, let us be like children clapping their hands and giving vent to their joy in shouts and laughter; they have no reserves, no critical attitude, they have not been embittered yet, their hearts have not been soured; they have still the first, natural faith in goodness and then, through baptism, they have the supernatural faith in it, they admire it, unless, of course, they belong to that pitiable class of little ones who have no real childhood. But the ordinary happy child, who has the privilege of a good mother, has the gift of admiration, and keeps it till the blight of society falls on his mind and darkens it.
This, then, ought to be our great Christian mentality; a readiness to admire the things of God, a readiness to admit that he does great and marvellous things, that he is great in nature; great in heaven, great in grace, that he is the Creator of earth and heaven; that, in the words of our Blessed Lord, heaven is God's throne and earth his footstool; that there is nothing in the vast universe which is not the handiwork of God, and that therefore it is full of endless glories, possibilities and marvels.
We have but one thing to do — a very easy thing at first sight — just to admire it, so love it for its beauty and riches, to clap our hands in our surprise at its glories and its mysteries. This is part of the great natural goodness of creation which we accept everywhere, and we should just admire, as children admire.
Dom Anscar Vonier, O.S.B. "Grace of the Childlike." excerpt from The Art of Christ: Retreat Conferences (Burns, Oates & Washbourne, Ltd., 1927).
The Art of Christ: Retreat Conferences is out of print and in the public domain.
Dom Anscar Vonier, O.S.B. (1875–1938) was the abbot of Buckfast Abbey in Devon, England and the most gifted dogmatic theologian writing — and preaching — in England during the inter-War years. By an unexpected blessing, the English Catholic Church had in its midst a German monk of outstanding competence and spiritual nobility. He is the author, among other books, of A Key to the Doctrine of the Eucharist, The Life of the World to Come, The Personality of Christ, and The Human Soul and Its Relations with Other Spirits.
Copyright © In the public domain
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