The Hidden Life
Presence of God– O Jesus, hidden God, teach me the secret of the hidden life.
During His life on earth, Jesus chose to conceal His divinity under the veil of His humanity. Except on very rare occasions — and this is especially true during the thirty years preceding His apostolate — He never allowed His greatness, His wisdom, or His omnipotence to be manifest. Later, during the years of His public life, He willed to adapt Himself to the Apostles’ imperfect way of living and acting, He who was infinitely superior to them. Jesus is truly the hidden God and teaches us by His example the value of the hidden life.
To imitate Jesus’ humility perfectly, we must share in His hidden life, veiling, as He did, everything, in us that might attract attention or praise from others, whatever might single us out or make us noticed, fleeing as far as we are able from every mark of distinction. “Ama nesciri et pro nihilo reputare,” love to live unknown and reputed as nothing (Imitation of Christ I:2,3); by doing this we will become more like Jesus who, being God, willed to take “the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men, and in habit found as a man” (Philippians 2:7). Jesus Himself has taught us how to practice the hidden life, insisting that we do our good works in secret, only to please God, and without ostentation. He tells us also to guard the secret of our interior life and our relations with Him: “When thou shalt pray, enter into thy chamber and shut the door”; to conceal our mortifications and penances: “When thou fastest, anoint thy head and wash thy face”; not to display our good works: “When thou dost give alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doth,” for those who do their good works before men, to be seen by them, “have received their reward” and will receive no further one from their heavenly Father (cf. Matthew 6:1-18).
“O Jesus who has said, ‘My kingdom is not of this world,’ You teach me that the only kingdom worth coveting is the grace of being ‘unknown and esteemed as naught’ and the joy that comes from self-contempt…. Ah! like You, I want my face to be hidden from all eyes; I want no one here below to esteem me! You wanted ‘neither beauty nor comeliness…. Your look was as it were hidden and despised, whereupon we esteemed You not.’ I too, wish to be like You, without comeliness and beauty, unknown to every creature.
“Yes, all must be kept for You with jealous care, because it is so sweet to work for You alone! Then the heart is filled with joy and the soul with gladness! Grant that no one may think of me, that my very existence may be, as it were, unknown to all; only one thing do I desire: to be forgotten and counted for nothing. Yes, I want to be forgotten, not only by creatures, but even by myself, so as to be totally reduced to nothingness and to have no other desire than Your glory, my Jesus—that is all! My own, I abandon to You” (Thérèse of the Child Jesus, Story of a Soul 7 – NV – L).
O Lord, to be forgotten by people, to work without having my labor known, to spend in silence and self-effacement a humble life in which nothing appears great, nothing is worthy of attention—all this will thoroughly mortify my pride. This will be a powerful remedy for my innate desire to make myself important.
I confess, O Lord, and You already know, that unlike the saints, I am far from desiring to be forgotten and ignored. I often use little ways of drawing attention to myself and of putting myself forward. But You know, Jesus, that I am ill, and You also know that I wish to be cured by modeling my life on Yours. It is only in order to be like You that I can accept and love effacement; it is only to merit Your love, Your glance, Your intimacy, that I can renounce the good will and esteem of creatures. O Jesus, increase my desire to live for You alone, and I will find it sweet to live unknown to men.
Note from Dan: This post on “The Hidden Life” is provided courtesy of Baronius Press and contains one of two meditations for the day. If you would like to get the full meditation from one of the best daily meditation works ever compiled, you can learn more here: Divine Intimacy. Please honor those who support us by purchasing and promoting their products.
Art: Christ and His Mother Studying the Scriptures, Henry Ossawa Tanner, circa 1909, PD-US published before January 1, 1923; Carpenter and Son, Thuydatnganchau, 5 November 2012 own work, CCA-SA; both Wikimedia Commons. Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, mirror from open source material.