LIFE OF CHILDHOOD
875 Don’t forget, silly child, that Love has made you all-powerful.
876 Child, don’t lose your loving habit of “storming” Tabernacles.
877 When I call you “good child” don’t think I imagine you timid or bashful. If you are not manly and normal, instead of being an apostle you will be a caricature that causes laughter.
878 Good child, say to Jesus many times each day: I love you, I love you, I love you...
879 When you feel oppressed by your weaknesses don’t let yourself be sad. Glory in your infirmities, like Saint Paul, for children need not fear being laughed at when they imitate great men.
880 Don’t let your imperfections and defects, nor even your more serious falls, separate you from God. A weak child, if he is wise, tries to keep near his Father.
881 Don’t worry if you become annoyed when you do those little things he asks of you. Eventually you will smile...
Have you never seen how reluctantly a little child gives his father, who is only teasing him, the sweet which he has in his hand? But he gives it: love has conquered.
882 When you want to do things well, really well, it’s then you do them worst. Humble yourself before Jesus, saying to him: Don’t you see how I do everything badly? Well, if you don’t help me very much, I’ll do it all even worse!
Take pity on your child: you see, I want to write a big page each day in the book of my life. But, I’m so clumsy! If the Master doesn’t guide my hand, instead of graceful strokes my pen leaves behind blots and scrawls that can’t be shown to anyone.
From now on, Jesus, we’ll always do the writing together.
883 My clumsiness, Beloved, is so great, so very great that even when I wish to caress I cause pain. Refine the manners of my soul: within the sturdy manliness of this life of childhood, give me - I want you to give me - the gentleness and affection that children show towards their parents in their intimate outpourings of love.
884 You are full of weaknesses. Each day you see them more clearly. But don’t let them frighten you. He well knows you can’t yield more fruit.
Your involuntary falls - a child’s falls - show your Father-God that he must take more care and your Mother Mary that she must never let you go from her loving hand. Each day as our Lord picks you up from the ground, take advantage of it, embrace him with all your strength and lay your wearied head on his open breast so that you will be carried away by the beating of his most loving Heart.
885 One pin-prick. And another. And another. Suffer them! Don’t you see you are so small that in your life - in your little way - you can only offer him those little crosses?
Besides, just think: one pin-prick and another, one cross on top of another,... what a huge pile!
When all is said and done, child, you have learned to do one really big thing: to Love.
886 When a child-like soul tells our Lord of its desires to be forgiven, it can be sure that it will soon see those desires fulfilled: Jesus will free the soul from the filthy tail that it drags in punishment for its past miseries. He will remove the dead-weight which still remains from all its impurities and drags it down to the ground. He will free the child from all the earthly ballast in its heart so that it can rise up towards God’s Majesty, and be enveloped in the living flame of his Love.
887 The discouragement produced by your repeated lack of generosity, your lapses, your falls - which perhaps are only apparent - often makes you feel as if you had broken something of exceptional value (your sanctification).
Don’t be worried: apply to your supernatural life the wise way simple children have of solving such a conflict.
They have broken - nearly always because of its fragility - something their father values greatly. They are sorry, perhaps they shed tears, but... they go to seek consolation from the owner of what has been damaged by their awkwardness, and their father forgets the value - great though it may be - of the broken object and, filled with tenderness, he not only pardons, but consoles and encourages the little one. Learn.
888 Let your prayer be manly. To be a child does not mean to be effeminate.
889 For the person who loves Jesus, prayer, even prayer without consolation, is the sweetness that puts an end to all sorrow: he goes to pray, eagerly, like a child going to the sugar-bowl after a bitter dose of medicine.
890 You are distracted in prayer. - Try to avoid distractions, but don’t worry if in spite of everything your mind still wanders.
Don’t you see how in ordinary life even the most considerate children play with the things about them, and often pay no attention to what their father is saying? This does not imply a lack of love or respect: it is the weakness and littleness peculiar to a child.
Then, look: you are a child before God
891 When you pray keep the distracting ideas moving, just as if you were a policeman on traffic duty: that is why you have the energetic will-power your life of childhood has given you. Now and then keep a thought for a while and commend to God those who caused the inopportune reflection.
And then, off again, and so on until the time is up. When you pray like this, though you may feel you are wasting time, rejoice and believe that you have succeeded in pleasing Jesus.
892 What a wonderful thing it is to be a child! When a man asks a favour, his request must be backed by a list of his qualifications.
When it is a child who asks - since children haven’t any qualifications – it’s enough for him to say: I’m a son of So-and-so.
Ah, Lord, - say it to him with all your heart! - I am a son of God!
893 Perseverance. A child who knocks at a door, knocks once again, and many times..., and loud and long; shamelessly! And the anger of whoever comes to open is dispelled by the simplicity of the disturbing little creature. So you with God.
894 Have you seen the gratitude of little children? Imitate them saying to Jesus, when things are favourable and when they are adverse: “How good you are! How good!...”
These words, if you mean them, are the way of childhood, and will bring you peace, with due measure of tears and laughter, and without measure of Love.
895 Work tires you out and leaves you unable to pray. You are always in the presence of your Father. If you can’t speak to him, look at him every now and then like a little child... and he’ll smile at you.
896 You think there is something wrong because, in your thanksgiving after Communion, the first thing you find yourself doing, without being able to help it, is asking: Jesus, give me this: Jesus, that soul: Jesus, that undertaking...
Don’t worry, and don’t try to force yourself: when the father is good and the child simple and daring, don’t you see how the little lad puts his hand into his father’s pocket, looking for sweets, before greeting him with a kiss? Well then...
897 Our will, strengthened by grace, is all-powerful before God. If, for instance, as we travel in a bus, we are struck by the thought of so many offences against God and say to Jesus, backing our words with our will, “My God, I wish I could make an act of love and reparation for every turn of the wheels carrying me”, in that very instant, in the eyes of Jesus, we really have loved him and atoned just as we desired.
Such “nonsense” is not pushing spiritual childhood too far: it is the eternal dialogue between the innocent child and the father doting on his son:
“Tell me, how much do you love me?”... And the little lad pipes out: “A mil-lion mil-lion ti-mes!”
898 If you love the “life of childhood”, you should have the sweet-tooth of a child, a “spiritual sweet-tooth”! Like those “of our age”, think of the good things your Mother keeps.
And do so many times a day. It just takes a moment... Mary... Jesus... the Tabernacle... Communion... Love... suffering... the blessed souls in purgatory... those who are fighting: the Pope, the priests... the faithful... your soul... the souls of your people... the guardian Angels... sinners...
899 That little mortification costs you so much! You’re in two minds. It’s as if someone were saying: Why must you be so faithful to your plan of life, to the clock? Listen: have you noticed how easily little children are taken in? They don’t want to swallow their medicine, but “Come”, they are told, “this spoonful for Daddy, and this one for Granny.” And so on, until they have finished the lot.
Do the same; fifteen minutes more mortification for the souls in purgatory; five more for your parents; another five for your brothers in the apostolate... Until, in the end, the allotted time is up.
Your mortification done in this way... is worth so much!
900 You are not alone. Suffer that tribulation joyfully. It’s true, poor child, that you don’t feel your Mother’s hand in yours. But... have you never seen the mothers of this earth, with arms outstretched, following their little ones when, without anyone’s help, they venture to take their first shaky steps? You are not alone: Mary is close beside you.
901 Jesus, I could never repay you, even if I died of Love, for the grace you have spent in me in making me little.