It’s the title of the book I’m currently home-reading, by Brennan Manning – Franciscan priest who joined the Little Brothers of Jesus of Charles de Foucauld in France while spending time in between in a desert and a cave. Praying. Formerly, he was an alcoholic.
My first impression of the book is of a man behind it who is a truth-lover and teller. He could be scathing in his writing and it’s because for him, “the gospel is the Good News of gratuitous salvation, but it does not promise a picnic on a green lawn” and “the journey to transparency begins with an honest confrontation with the truth, which is not something we acquire, but Someone.”
On the Christian imperative to be holy, he wrote,
“The only sane reaction to the evangelical standard of holiness is awe and confusion bordering on complaint. We should be embarrassed by the Word because it says much what we don’t want to hear. But why most of us are not embarrassed? Why doesn’t the Word exalt, frighten, and shock us? It’s not because we are unfamiliar with it – we hear it week in and week out. Why doesn’t it force us to reassess our lives?
It comes back to our delusions. Michel Quoist says:
We are satisfied by our little decent life. We are pleased with our good habits; we take them for virtues. We are pleased with our little efforts; we take them for progress. We are proud of our activities; they make us think we are giving ourselves. We are impressed by our influence; we imagine that it will transform lives. We are proud of what we give, though it hides what we withhold. We may even be mistaking a set of coinciding egoisms for real friendship. (p.20)
For Brennan, “there are certain burning questions that every Christian must answer in total candor”:
Do you hunger for Jesus Christ? Do you yearn to spend time alone with him in prayer? Is he the most important person in your life? Does he fill your soul like a song of joy? Is he on your lips as a shout of praise? Or has he been smothered by distractions, nullified by pride? Do you eagerly turn to his memoirs, his Testament, to learn more of him? Do you thirst for the living water of his Holy Spirit? Are you making the effort to die daily to anything and everything that inhibits, diminishes, or threatens your friendship with him?
No easy questions. Let’s leave the questions as they are…
Source: Manning, Brennan. The Importance of Being Foolish: How to think like Jesus (Harper: San Francisco, 2005)
Photo credit: Faqs