The Magi did it. Jesus, Mary and Joseph did it. Every Saint lived by it and every one of us is called to do it.
This “it” is to live a true interior life. It is to do what the Romans aspired to: “to be what you are, a rational creature.” That is, one who lives by reason and virtue and all that is right, good and beautiful. In this sense Bossuet said that no one can make a good public servant unless he first makes a good man. In the same way no one can make a good wife, or a good husband, or a good father, unless he first makes a good woman and a good man. In the same wise social work is in vain if it doesn’t touch the marrow and bones of a man’s real self, his interior.
The short cut to man’s interior life is the practice of devotion to the Childhood of Jesus Christ. In the words of the little St. Therese, it is called “spiritual childhood.” Jesus states it thus: “Unless you be converted and become as little children you shall not enter the kingdom of Heaven. Whosoever therefore shall make himself as this little child, he is the greater in the kingdom of heaven.” Mt18:3.
This conversion of which Jesus speaks is an all-important interior act of the soul. A true and profound conversion lasts a lifetime. For many who fail frequently after their conversion, it is simply renewed time and time again. To be fruitful however, we must adopt this spirit of sons, spiritual childhood, which Our Lord says is so necessary to salvation. And St. Paul clarifies “do not be children in sense, but in malice be children, and in sense, perfect.” I Cor. 14, 20. It is not an unknowing innocence or untried virtue, but a knowing act of humility and act of faith in our condition as adopted sons of God and imitators of Jesus Christ.
But how precisely are we to live daily this spiritual childhood? Firstly, we must firmly believe that we are the sons of God by Baptism and we must continually remember who we are in God’s eyes.
Secondly, we must recognize “the manner” of being an adopted son of God. In fact, we are continually pulled downwards by lusts, ill-will, selfishness and malice, while at the same time, the Spirit of God pours His grace into our hearts to help us act like sons. This Grace is really a sharing in the very life of Christ in His own Childhood.
The childhood of Christ is the mould of our own spiritual childhood. In Him we see that we are: 1) the sons of Mary, 2) required to grow in age, grace, wisdom, under the tutelage of our Mother, 3) under a law of continual love and obedience to our Mother, 4) held to practice diligently the duties of our religion, 5) supposed to have the honor of our Father continually before our minds in all that we do, 6) intended to be busy with His business, the salvation of our own souls as well as the souls of others’, 7) to keep before our eyes the reality of sin and the duty to fight against it, making reparation for it.
In imitating these qualities in the spirit of humility, we practice spiritual childhood. Following our Mother as our guide, we begin the path of spiritual childhood by saying the Rosary every day. We progress when we say more than one Rosary every day. We work at perfection when we do little sacrifices after every real-life failing in imitation of the virtues presented in the Rosary, or when we fail in fighting our daily sins. This is easiest to do when the sacrifices we choose are small. Let us be generous. Ave Maria!