Fr. Jacques Philippe | Reflections from Rome 2022

July 11, 2022
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Five Spiritual Insights from Father Jacques Philippe

On Friday, June 24, the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, we had the pleasure of receiving three spiritual conferences from the renowned spiritual author Fr. Jacques Philippe. Here are five insights that particularly stood out to me:

1. Poverty of spirit is foundational. If we wish to be open to receiving the graces which the Holy Spirit wishes to pour out upon us, then we must be made poor in spirit. There is no alternative. We must allow ourselves to enter into a time in which we wait for God’s action in our lives. This time is one of expectation, hope, patience, and trust. It is an invitation from the Lord to set aside our wisdom and accept the wisdom of God. Doing so, we are made capable of living all the other beatitudes.

2. The importance of rest. In our society, we put a high value on work ethic and efficiency. All too often, however, our culture of nonstop work leaves us increasingly unsettled and restless. As Christians, we have to be hard workers, cooperators with God in his salvific plan. Yet this is not the whole of our lives. We also must know how to rest in God and help our brothers and sisters do likewise. The privileged place to find rest is in the Eucharist, where we encounter the meek and humble heart of Christ. Those grace-filled moments after Mass when we become fleshly tabernacles of Our Lord’s glorified flesh are moments to rest with childlike abandonment in the God who loves us. Does our post-Mass thanksgiving reflect the reality of the sacrament we receive?

3. Hunger and thirst with Christ for souls. Practically, to hunger and thirst for righteousness is to ardently desire with Christ the holiness, faithfulness, and truth that comes from the Father. We should decide definitively that we do not want to be half-saints and live out a decision to strive for total sanctity. Then we can rely on the confidence Christ had in the Father’s faithfulness to his promises. Our fidelity to prayer will keep us hungry and thirsty for the salvation of souls.

4. The pure of heart will see God later and even now. The sixth beatitude promises that the pure of heart will see God. This promise, however, does not only concern the beatific vision. If we keep our hearts pure from attachments that go against God’s plan for us, then we will be capable even now of seeing the presence of God in the world. We will be able to look at creation with a supernatural outlook that seeks not to possess but rather to glorify the Creator. We will be motivated to bring others to God and not to ourselves.

5. The culmination of the beatitudes is the seventh, not the eighth. Even though there are eight beatitudes, the culmination of Christ’s teaching (as well as his life) is to be our peace, to break destroy the dividing wall of hostility that sets us against our brothers and sisters and even against ourselves. In order to truly be a peacemaker, we must first possess peace. Thus, we must ask for the grace to be reconciled with others and with ourselves. Coming to love ourselves as we truly are will make it easier to accept others without projecting our own limitations and faults on them. In order to love ourselves rightly, we have to be convinced that God can and does want to do great things through our fraility. Only the loving gaze of the Father toward us as his beloved sons and daughters can affect in us the reconciliation and peace that we so desire. With such loving acceptance, life becomes simple and beautiful. On this point, Fr. Philippe spoke with supreme conviction: It is enough — it is everything — to welcome God’s love. To accept the love God freely gives, we do not need anything else. We may have greater or lesser wealth, power, status, or a thousand other incidentals. If we have the love of God, what more could possibly add anything to such an infinite treasure? If we have it not, what could possibly begin to compensate?

Joseph McHenry
Archdiocese of Washington