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Pope’s Odd Jobs as Young Man: Bar Bouncer, for One.

Image: Pope's Odd Jobs as Young Man: Bar Bouncer, for One

By Cathy Burke

Pope Francis says among the several odd jobs he held as a young man was working as anightclub bouncer.

The Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano reported the Pope told a group of parishioners at the church of San Cirillo Alessandrino about his earlier jobs, which also included sweeping floors and as an assistant in a chemical laboratory, according to Catholic News Service.

Latest: Pope Francis: His Real Agenda May Surprise You 

The Pope told one group of parishioners that although he used to kick troublemakers out of nightclubs, he later learned how to woo people back to the church, crediting years of teaching literature and psychology, the report noted.

Pope Francis’ job as a bouncer was first reported in March by the Italian paper Gazzetta del Sud and the British newspaper The Telegraph, which wrote that he worked in a bar in Buenos Aires while he was a student.

In his latest revelations, the Pope also told parishioners he discovered his vocation to the priesthood after confession with a priest he had never met before — and then joked the best confessors are priests the penitent doesn’t know, and priests who are deaf.

And he confessed that he never dreamed he’d become Pope — and was just a little nervous celebrating his first Mass after being elected pontiff.

“Was I anxious? A little, yes, but everyone was nice,” he said, according to the newspaper. “But it’s true, having a lot of people in front of you is a bit scary.”

Now, he added, “Thank God I feel really good. The Lord helped me be a priest, to be a bishop, and now to be the Pope.”

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Keeping the Lights on Monday through Saturday.

Tom Ehrich

The scenario is common and vexing.

A church building erected generations ago to serve a different era sits idle six days a week and still consumes 50 percent or more of the church budget. Maintenance gets deferred, comforts are reduced, staff that is needed when the church is open are laid off, and nothing gets better.

Frustrated church leaders wonder if they should jettison the beloved structure and join newer congregations in strip malls and schools. They don’t raise the idea, of course, because their primary donors are older parishioners for whom the building is a treasure.

Some leaders dig in their heels, put the building first, and say “No” to any new expenses that would endanger the facilities budget, thus preventing initiatives that might build membership and justify bricks-and-mortar.

A prominent English vicar offers another solution, grounded in church architecture itself.

In the Middle Ages, says the Rev. Desmond Tillyer, formerly of St. Peter‘s Eaton Square, in the Belgravia section of London, churches had two parts: a chancel reserved for sacred uses, and a nave used for worship but even more for secular purposes.

“In the nave,” says Tillyer, “the people gathered for Mass, but it was also a parish hall, a place for community rites of passage, e.g.celebrations of wedding feasts and funeral wakes, also sometimes the local market or the local court house, and ultimately the final place of refuge into which the people brought their families and livestock if the village were attacked.”

Many New York City churches served exactly that last function during the 9/11 attacks. They set up feeding stations for first-responders, posted photos of the missing, provided space for grief counseling, distributed water to ash-covered citizens fleeing Wall Street, and formed pastoral partnerships with firehouses that had lost comrades.

English churches got stiff during the Protestant Reformation, says Tillyer, when Puritans banned secular activities in churches and Roman Catholic counter-reformers followed suit.

But churches are becoming community centers once again, Tillyer says. “Naves have become shops, Post Offices, welcoming facilities, including cafes and information centers, places for lunch clubs to meet … art galleries opened, medical centers, meeting places for youth clubs, study groups.”

Some alterations of facilities needed to be made, but grateful government agencies shared the expense.

At St. Peter’s, they removed pews and communion rails to provide concert and meeting space. They adapted the crypt for a nursery school and non-church tenants. The parish hall was converted for sharing with government agencies, social events and commercial rentals.

“The result,” says Tillyer, “was not only an immediate intermeshing of church and community, but also income for the church so that the mission and ministry of the church could be further enhanced.”

Churches in America have a different relationship with government and would need to work around tax-exemption issues. But I have seen that done. The larger obstacles are resistance among members unaccustomed to sharing their space, and worry about outsiders causing damage, clutter and odors.

Even so, many congregations have taken steps toward becoming community centers. In my neighborhood, a United Methodist church building is in use seven days a week: as home for three separate congregations (Methodist, Presbyterian and Jewish), a seniors program, a feeding ministry, a community orchestra and chorus, a community theater, programs for children, and English-as-a-second-language classes for immigrants.

Yes, the facilities look worn. But worn is better than empty.

Tom Ehrich is a writer, church consultant and Episcopal priest based in New York. He is the author of Just Wondering, Jesus, and the founder of the Church Wellness Project, His Web site is

c. 2009 Religion News Service. Used with permission.

Original publication date: September 16, 2009

Gossip: Feathers in the Wind.

This is 1 of 100 devotionals from my book The ABCs of Wisdom: Building Character With Solomon.

“The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to a man’s inmost parts.”
Proverbs 18:8

Here are a few verses to ponder: “He who conceals his hatred has lying lips, and whoever spreads slander is a fool” (10:18). “A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends” (16:28). “A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid a man who talks too much” (20:19).

Once upon a time a man said something about his neighbor that was untrue. The word spread around the village as one person told another. But soon the truth came out—what could the man do? He went to see the village priest and the priest gave him some strange instructions.

“Take a bag full of feathers and place one feather on the doorstep of each person who heard the untrue story you told. Then go back a day later, pick up the feather, and bring the bag back to me.”

So the man did as the priest said. But when he went back to pick up the feathers nearly all of them were gone. When he went back to the priest he said, “Father, I did as you said but when I went back the wind had blown the feathers away and I could not get them back.” And the priest replied, “So it is with careless words, my son. Once they are spoken, they cannot be taken back. You may ask forgiveness for what you said but you cannot take your words back. The damage has already been done.”

So it is with gossip. “Hey, did you hear about what Tom did?” “Let me tell you what Phil just told me.” “I just heard Susan and George are separating. Can you believe it?” “Jay is about to lose his job—he’s been goofing off again.” “Ethel finally talked Lloyd into buying a new car. And you know how Lloyd is about money.” And on and on it goes.

It’s not just that we play fast and loose with the truth. Sometimes we tell 80% of the truth and conveniently forget part of the story. Sometimes we tell all the truth we know, but the part we don’t know changes the whole picture. Sometimes we tell the truth but in such a way as to make someone look stupid. Sometimes we just plain lie.

Anyway you slice it … it’s gossip. And it’s hurtful. And it’s wrong. And God hates it. And we should, too.

There is an easy cure. But it takes tremendous discipline. Keep your mouth shut. It works every time.

If you must share what you know, use three questions as a guide before telling what you know to someone else.

Is it true?
Is it kind?
Is it necessary?

There wouldn’t be any gossip if we used those three questions before speaking.

Spirit of Truth, Holiness and Love, fill us with your divine presence that our words may reflect the character of Jesus. Amen.

Going Deeper
How do you define gossip? How often are you guilty of spreading gossip?
What changes do you need to make in this area of your life?

Dr. Ray Pritchard

Author, Speaker, President of Keep Believing Ministries

NY Times Wages War on Catholicism.

Image: NY Times Wages War on Catholicism

Pope Benedict XVI removed the Rev. Marcial Maciel from ministry and put the entire order of priests Maciel founded in receivership. (Getty Images)

On Feb. 27, The New York Times ran a front-page story raising questions about some cardinals who will soon vote for the new Pope. Some of the cardinals have had accused priests serving under them, while others have been the subject of criticism by the Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests (SNAP).

However, the story by Laurie Goodstein contains factual errors, blatant omissions, and many sources who have damaged credentials.

Goodstein writes that the Pope “put children at risk by failing to report pedophiles or remove them from the priesthood.” This is thrice incorrect: (a) many priests have been removed from ministry under Pope Benedict XVI (b) children have not been put at risk and (c) pedophiles have never been the problem.

Rev. Marcial Maciel is rightly cited as “a pathological abuser and liar,” but for Goodstein to mention his name, while at the same time contending that the Pope never removed a molesting priest from ministry, is positively astonishing. Who does she think dumped Maciel in 2006? Moreover, the Pope not only removed him from ministry, he put the entire order of priests he founded, the Legions of Christ, in receivership.

Goodstein’s claims that children have been put at risk under the Pope, and that pedophilia is the problem, have been undercut by many scholars, including one she cites, psychology professor Thomas G. Plante. In his research on this subject, he found that “80 to 90 percent of all priests who in fact abuse minors have sexually engaged with adolescent boys, not prepubescent children. Thus, the teenager is more at risk than the young altar boy or girls of any age.”

In other words, the scandal — which ended more than a quarter-century ago (most of the abuse took place between the mid-60s and mid-80s) — rarely involved children. This finding is consistent with the work of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice: it found that less than 5 percent of molesting priests have been pedophiles. In almost every case, it has been homosexual priests hitting on teenage boys, the most common offense of which has been “inappropriate touching.”

Unfortunately, for politically correct reasons, even those who honestly collect the data, including Plante and the John Jay professors, are reluctant to discuss the role that homosexual priests have played in molesting minors. In fairness, it is important to keep in mind that while most of the molesting priests have been homosexuals, not pedophiles, most homosexual priests have never been molesters. That said, one of the reasons why this problem is almost non-existent today is because this Pope has made it very difficult for practicing homosexuals to enter the priesthood. The results are in the numbers: in the last 10 years, the annual average number of credible accusations made against over 40,000 priests has been in the single digits.

Goodstein says that “three priests and a former priest” accused Cardinal Keith O’Brien of Scotland of “making sexual advances.” This is correct. What is not said is that the accusers will give neither their names nor the details of what allegedly happened, and that the unconfirmed offenses — all denied by O’Brien — are said to have occurred more than 30 years ago.

This particular part of the story carries added significance when we consider Mark Thompson’s baggage. On November 12, Thompson took over as the president of The New York Times Company. He did so following a trail of accusations that when he was the BBC chief, he failed to report on child rapist Jimmy Savile, the BBC icon who worked there for decades.

Thompson denies he ever heard about Savile’s predatory behavior. Yet last September, Thompson told his lawyers to write a letter on his behalf threatening The Sunday Times with a lawsuit if it ran a story implicating him in the Savile scandal. Most astoundingly, he then claimed he knew nothing of the letter’s contents! So when it comes to pointing fingers about a sexual cover-up, the Times should be the last to do so.

One of the most irresponsible critics of the Catholic Church on this matter is Judge Anne Burke. She is quoted by Goodstein as blaming every single cardinal for this problem. “They all have participated in one way or another in having actual information about criminal conduct, and not doing anything about it.” Ideally, she should be sued for libel. But she knows that no cardinal is going to do that. So she continues to throw mud.

In 2006, Burke said priests are not entitled to constitutional rights. She argued that priests should be removed from ministry on the basis of one unsubstantiated accusation.

Anticipating an obvious wave of criticism, the judge said, “We understand that it is a violation of the priest’s due process — you’re innocent until proven guilty — but we’re talking about the most vulnerable people in our society and those are children.” But her alleged interest in child welfare did not allow her to say whether non-priests should be denied their civil liberties when accused of wrongdoing.

Goodstein drops Terry McKiernan’s name as a credible source. He is the director of a website that tracks abuse cases. At a SNAP conference in 2011, he said, without a shred of evidence, that New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan was “keeping the lid on 55 names” of predator priests. This is an out-and-out lie: Dolan is not covering for any priest.

If Dolan were guilty, then McKiernan should be willing to disclose the names of these 55 priests. But he refuses to do so. This is typical of him. As with Burke, he has a different standard for accused priests: he said in 2011 that accused priests should be removed from ministry before an accusation is even investigated. Not surprisingly, when the John Jay study was released two years ago, McKiernan condemned it the day before it was issued.

The last critic mentioned by Goodstein is SNAP director David Clohessy. In today’s New York Daily News, he is quoted saying, “We’re trying to keep this issue front and center.”

He needs to — he’s broke.

On Feb. 23, SNAP sent a desperate e-mail to its donors saying, “We are barely meeting our everyday expenses.”

One of the reasons why SNAP is in bad shape is because Clohessy has had to come up with big bucks to pay for his lawyers after being sued for refusing to turn over SNAP records about his allegedly shady operations. While he demands transparency from the Church, Clohesssy refuses to disclose his source of funding (we know that much comes from Church-suing lawyers like Jeffrey Anderson).

Clohessy was asked before a Missouri court in 2011, “Has SNAP to your knowledge ever issued a press release that contained false information?” He didn’t blink. “Sure.”

For decades, Clohessy has been lobbing rhetorical bombs at the Catholic Church, arguing what a crime it is for anyone in the Church not to report a suspected molester. But when it comes to himself, it’s a different story. In the 1990s, he knew about the predatory behavior of a molesting priest and never called the cops. That priest was his brother, Kevin. This is not a matter of conjecture — he’s admitted it.

No one with any sense of dignity should ever seek to defend the behavior of a molester. It must also be said that when such a serious issue like this is being discussed, no one with any sense of dignity should be making irresponsible charges or sweeping generalizations. Moreover, no one engaged in this conversation should come to the table unless his own hands are clean. Had these strictures been applied to Goodstein’s piece, she wouldn’t have had a story.

Dr. William Donohue is the president of and CEO of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, the nation’s largest Catholic civil rights organization. The publisher of the Catholic League journal, Catalyst, Bill is a former Bradley Resident Scholar at the Heritage Foundation and served for two decades on the board of directors of the National Association of Scholars. The author of five books, two on the ACLU, and the winner of several teaching awards and many awards from the Catholic community, Donohue has appeared on thousands of television and radio shows speaking on civil liberties and social issues. Read more reports from Bill Donohue — Click Here Now.

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Ahiara: The Pope Has Spoke By Evaristus Bassey.

By Evaristus Bassey

While I was serving in the Diocese as parish priest, I joked with a non-Catholic friend of mine that if the Pope wanted to speak with me that night it was simple. ‘How? You?’ he asked, looking at me a bit quizzically. ‘Yes. Me.’ I responded. ‘This is how,’ I explained. The Vatican Ambassador to Nigeria (Nuncio) would be called, and he would call my Bishop and my Bishop would call me. And he remarked how greatly organized the Catholic Church was. ‘Yeah. It’s a backlog of 2000 years,’ I said. So by now, the Holy Father would have already been informed of the action of the priests and people of Ahiara Diocese, about their public show of discontent with his choice of a Bishop for them.

As a person I was really taken aback by the demonstration. My personality now is defined not only by my native culture and tradition but more by the dimension of my socialization and ‘doctrination’ as a priest- trainee and now a priest of over twenty years. I could not situate this action of the Ahiara priests in the context of faith and love. Not merely was I concerned with what the neighbours would say, I was deeply concerned about the implications of such an action for each of the participating priests. What did it mean personally to each of them, to be part of the procession, part of the protest? Indeed what does it mean to any Catholic who is part of the rejection of Monsignor Opaleke as Bishop of Ahiara ? Many years ago a group of priests decided to boycott the Chrism mass on Holy Thursday as a sign of their lack of confidence in the then local ordinary. I declined the boycott, because personally it would have meant that I would not renew my priestly commitment and would not express my communion with my bishop no matter what I thought him to be. It is a question each participating priest would answer for himself, what it meant to him personally to be a participant.

And then I am scandalized. For a non-Igbo priest as I am, I had long ago wizened up to the fact that the church was universal and there was no more Jew or Greek or Gentile, and so anyone could be a priest anywhere and a Bishop anywhere. Of course this always translated to an advantage to my Igbo brothers because of their sheer numbers. Being everywhere, there is hardly a diocese in the 54 dioceses in Nigeria without an Igbo priest either serving on mission or properly incardinated. While there may be a few Igbo Bishops in non-Igbo territories, there is yet to be a non-Igbo Bishop in any Igbo territory. And so the rejection of Monsignor Opaleke who is Igbo in an Igbo Diocese, and all the drama associated with it, is to me a great scandal.

Perhaps it is not as simple as that. Sometimes the divisions and rivalries among clans within an ethnic group could be far stronger than those the entire tribe may have against other ethnic nationalities and go deep into the ethnic consciousness, perhaps becoming part of the genetic formation of those from the clan, manifesting in  spontaneous sentiments of resentment and other stereotypes whenever issues arise with a member of the rival clan. A priest friend told me the Ahiara people have nothing against Monsignor Opaleke personally but against Anambra dominance. And an Anambra man or woman has it stamped in his or her consciousness a certain distrust and suspicion towards a Mbise man, such that it is customary to say that if a viper and a Mbise man entered your house at the same time, eliminating the Mbise man was the priority. What is at work therefore may be  a subtle clash of two antagonistic sub-cultures. But what is of even greater clash is ethnic or clannish jingoism versus catholicity.

I always learnt that while certain levels of  decision were yet to be taken, it was good to do all that was possible in terms of consultation, various inputs and advocacy towards influencing it; but once it was taken, then it was to be implemented before further advocacy could be pursued. More so with such a decision as from one who has the competency and authority.

Except for churches that may not be in communion with Rome, or with certain churches that have been ‘nationalized’ like the Chinese, the person with the exclusive right to appoint a bishop is the Holy Father.  Before one is appointed, we may make all our frantic moves, including all the disparaging things that may be written in the name of  petitions. But once a decision has been taken and one appointed, then as people of faith and people of love, we have to accept and build trust.

Monsignor Opaleke is the Bishop of Ahiara. The Holy Father has spoken. And that is how it is going to be. He would be consecrated and installed. And if he has to die in the process, so be it; for what is at stake is greater than his life; it is the very independence and freedom of the Holy office occupied by the successor of Peter who is the leader of the church and the visible symbol of communion.

Perhaps these sentiments of the clan should have been taken into consideration before the appointment of Monsignor Opaleke.  Perhaps there should have been not only a covert but an overtly wider consultation, with all the attendant dangers and eventual disappointments. But the greater lesson  is that once ordained a priest, one is on mission and therefore a missionary and could be sent by the church ad intra or ad extra. Mbise priests are all over the world. What would happen if they were all asked to go home and serve only among their own people ?

There is a way in which this action of the priests and people could be seen as the expression of ownership. They may be saying that they have a stake in this church as well and  deserve an opportunity to make input. Rogers and Blenko in writing for the Harvard Business Review(On Strategy,232) enumerates a RAPID process of decision making. There are those whose duty is to recommend, some are positioned to agree or give consent, others are put in place to perform the task while yet others are placed to make input; but usually there has to be a decider who is the single point of accountability. Maybe the process would need improvement, with more involvement of those who have capacity to make input for the provincial Bishops who are both consent givers(agreers) and recommenders.  Regularly, the provincial Bishops consent to submit a list of eligible candidates  within a province to the Holy Father. This is irrespective of whether a see(diocese) is vacant or not. It is from this list that the decider, who is the Holy Father may choose a bishop. He is not absolutely bound to choose from this list. Not even the provincial bishops are the deciders. The decider is the Pope himself. The church being universal, and with the mandate of unity, the Holy Father could reach out to any province and pick a suitable candidate and appoint as Bishop of a diocese outside the candidate’s own province of origin. This is the right of the Holy Father, and every Catholic priest worth his salt, would sheath his sword once the Hoy Father has spoken. I know the Holy Father may never have known Monsignor Opaleke one on one. But over the long process of selecting a Bishop, he has chosen Monsignor Opaleke, and so it must be! Period.

As parish priest, I know how Nigerian priests could be dictatorial in their parishes. I wonder how those priests would feel if they took a decision which was within their authority to make and the lay people ganged up to oppose them.  Won’t they say ‘But I am the parish priest…?’

This crisis presents an opportunity for a deeper conversion and enlightenment. All cultures are to be mirrored against the light of the gospel and refined accordingly. Just recently, on the 3rd Sunday, the second reading reminded us that ‘In the one Spirit we were all baptized, Jews as well as Greeks, slaves as well as citizens, and one Spirit was given to us all to drink.’ Blood may be thicker than water, as we say. But now faith must be seen to be thicker than blood, the faith we all share in Christ. As people of faith we must believe that everything works together for the good of those who believe. My brother priests in Ahiara should accept what the Holy Father has done, reach out to their Bishop- elect, plan for his installation and assure him of their loyalty,  for that is the pledge they made when they were ordained, to work with their bishop and his successors. Now Monsignor Opaleke is successor to Bishop Chikwe, and the priests should keep good that pledge they made on that sacred day of their ordination, unless it doesn’t mean anything different to be a Catholic priest.  At this critical time, it is obedience before complaint. They should surrender their fears and hopes to God and trust Him to attend to their deepest yearnings. Monsignor Opaleke has emotions and feelings. Charity demands that they  care also how all this affects him personally.

About the Writer
Fr. Evaristus is a priest of the Archdiocese of Calabar and works at the Catholic Secretariat. 


Italian Priest Sparks Outrage Over Blaming Women for Domestic Violence.

Father Piero Corsi
Father Piero Corsi

An Italian priest has provoked outrage after putting up an article that said women were partly to blame for encouraging domestic violence by failing to clean their houses and cook properly and for wearing tight and provocative clothing.

Italian media reported that parish priest Piero Corsi fixed a text to the bulletin board of his church in the northern village of San Terenzo di Lerici, which said women should engage in “healthy self criticism” over the issue of femicide, or men murdering women.

Domestic violence against women is a serious problem in Italy although a report by a United Nations mission in June said it was “largely invisible and underreported.”

The text, posted on a website by a conservative Catholic named Bruno Volpe, attacked pornographyand erotic television advertising but said women shared the blame for “provoking the worst instincts, which then turn into violence and sexual abuse.”

“Let’s ask ourselves. Is it possible that men have all gone mad at one stroke? We don’t think so,” said the text, which was reproduced in several newspapers.

“The core of the problem is in the fact that women are more and more provocative, they yield to arrogance, they believe they can do everything themselves and they end up exacerbating tensions,” it said.

“How often do we see girls and even mature women walking on the streets in provocative and tight clothing?”

“Babies left to themselves, dirty houses, cold meals and fast food at home, soiled clothes. So if a family ends up in a mess and turns into crime (a form of violence which should be condemned and punished firmly) often the responsibility is shared,” it said.

The mayor of Lerici, Marco Caluri, said on Thursday the article was “astonishing and deeply offensive” and the bishop of La Spezia ordered it to be taken down, saying it contained “unacceptable opinions which are against the common position of the church.”

A third of women in Italy had reported being victim of serious domestic violence, a UN report citing data from Italian statistics agency ISTAT said.

It said that as many as 127 women had been murdered by men in 2010, often as a result of “honor, men’s unemployment and jealousy by the perpetrator.”

Maria Gabriella Carnieri Moscatelli, the head of Telefono Rosa, an association that helps the victims of violence, said an apology subsequently offered by Corsi was not sufficient.

“I thank the bishop who had the paper taken down but I’m still not satisfied because I think someone needs to talk to this person and understand why he has these attitudes,” she told SkyTG24 television.

“I think he needs to make a deeper examination of his conscience that goes beyond apologies,” she said.

Corsi denied reports that he intended to resign as priest and in an interview published on the web site of the weekly Oggi, he said he would be carrying on with his work.

“After everything that’s happened, which has certainly been well beyond what I intended or expected, I think there’s need for calm, rest and silence to respond with the serenity and harmony required to carry on,” he said.

Reporting By James Mackenzie; Editing by Roger Atwood

© 2012 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.


We Are God’s Temple.

Andrew Murray
Andrew Murray

Scripture tells us that man is God‘s temple (see 1 Cor. 3:16). In order to fully understand this analogy, we must recall the division of the Jewish temple into three parts.

There was its exterior, seen by all men, with the outer court, into which every Israelite might enter, and where all the external religious service was performed. There was the holy place, into which alone the priests might enter, to present to God the blood or the incense, the bread or the oil that they had brought from without.

Although near, the priests ministering in the holy place were still not within the veil; into the immediate presence of God they could not come. God dwelled in the holiest of all, in a light inaccessible, where none might venture. The momentary entering of the high priest, once a year, was only to bring into full consciousness the truth that there was no place for man there until the veil was rent and taken away.

In man, as in the physical temple of the Israelites, there are three parts. In the body you have the outer court, the external visible life, where all the conduct has to be regulated by God’s law and where all service consists in looking at how things are to bring us close to God.

Then there is the soul, with its inner life, its power of mind and feeling and will. In the regenerate man this is the holy place, where thoughts and affections and desires move to and fro as the priests of the sanctuary, rendering God their service in the full light of consciousness.

Then there is, within the veil, hidden from all human sight and light, the innermost sanctuary, “the secret place of the most high”—the spirit—where God dwells and where man may not enter, until the veil is rent at God’s own bidding. In the believer this is the inner chamber of the heart, of which the Spirit has taken possession and out of which He waits to do His glorious work, making soul and body holy unto the Lord.

However, this indwelling, unless it is recognized, yielded to, and humbly maintained in adoration and love, often brings comparatively little blessing. The one great lesson that the truth—that we are God’s temple because His Spirit dwells in us—teaches us, is this: to acknowledge the holy presence that dwells with us. This alone will enable us to regard the whole temple, even to the outmost court, as sacred to His service and to yield every power of our nature to His leading and will.

The most sacred part of the temple, that for which all the rest existed and on which all depended, was the holiest of all. Even though the priests of old might never enter there and might never see the glory that dwelled there, all their conduct was regulated, and all their faith motivated, by the thought of the unseen presence there. It was this that gave the rituals they performed, such as sprinkling blood and burning incense, their value. It was this that made it a privilege to draw nigh.

It was the most holy, the holiest of all, that made the place of their serving to them a holy place. Their whole life was controlled and inspired by faith in the unseen, indwelling glory within the veil.

It is no different with the believer. Until he learns by faith to tremble in the presence of the wondrous mystery that he is God’s temple because God’s Spirit dwells in him, he will never yield himself to his high vocation with the holy reverence or the joyful confidence that he should. As long as he looks only into the holy place, into the heart—as far as man can see and know what passes there—he will often search in vain for the Holy Spirit, or only find cause for bitter shame that his workings are so few and frail.

Each of us must learn to know that there is a holiest of all in the temple that he himself is; the secret place of the Most High with us must become the central truth in our temple worship. This must be to us the meaning of our confession: “I believe in the Holy Spirit.”

And how is this deep faith in the hidden indwelling to become ours? Taking our stand upon God’s blessed Word, we must accept and appropriate its teaching. We must believe that God means what the Scriptures say.

I am a temple, just such a temple as God commanded to be built of old; He intended for me to see in this physical structure what I am meant to be.

There the holiest of all was the central point, the essential thing. It was all dark, secret, hidden, until the time of the unveiling came. It demanded and received the faith of the priest and the people.

The holiest of all within me, too, is unseen and hidden, a thing for faith alone to know and deal with. Let me, as I approach the Holy One, bow before Him in deep and lowly reverence. Let me there say that I believe what He says, that His Holy Spirit, God, one with the Father and the Son, has entered in, and even now makes His abode within me.

I will meditate and be still until something of the overwhelming glory of the truth falls upon me and faith begins to realize that I am His temple and that in the secret place He sits upon His throne. As I yield myself in silent meditation and worship day by day, surrendering and opening my whole being to Him, He will in His divine, loving, living power shine into my consciousness the light of His presence.

As this thought fills the heart, the faith of the indwelling, though hidden, presence will influence; the holy place will be ruled from the most holy. The world of consciousness in the soul, with all its thoughts and feelings, its affections and purposes, will come and surrender itself to the holy power that sits within on the throne. Amid the terrible experience of failure and sin, a new hope will dawn.

Though I may have earnestly sought to, I could not keep the holy place for God, because He keeps the most holy for Himself—if I give Him the glory due His name, in the holy worship of the inner temple. He will send forth His light and His truth through my whole being and, through mind and will, reveal His power to sanctify and to bless. Through the soul, coming ever more securely under His rule, His power will work out even into the body.

With passions and appetites within, with every thought brought into subjection, the hidden Holy Spirit will through the soul perpetrate ever deeper into the body. Through the Spirit the deeds of the body will die, and the river of water that flows from under the throne of God and the Lamb will go through the body with its cleansing and quickening power.

friend, do believe that you are the temple of the living God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you! You have been sealed with the Holy Spirit; He is the mark, the living assurance of your sonship and your Father’s love.

If, until now, this has been a thought that has brought you little comfort, see if the reason is not here: You sought for Him in the holy place, amid the powers and services of your inner life that come within your vision, and you could hardly discern Him there—so you could not appropriate the comfort and strength the Comforter was meant to bring.

No, my brother, not there, not there. Deeper down, in the secret place of the Most High—there you will find Him. There faith will find Him.

And as faith worships in holy reverence before the Father, and the heart trembles at the thought of what it has found, wait in holy stillness on God to grant you the mighty working of His Spirit, wait in holy stillness for the Spirit, and be assured He will, as God, arise and fill His temple with His glory.

And then remember, the veil was but for a time. When the preparation was complete, the veil of the flesh was rent. As you yield your soul’s inner life to the inmost life of the Spirit, as the traffic between the most holy and the holy becomes more true and unbroken, the fullness of the time will come in your soul.

In the power of Him, in whom the veil was rent that the Spirit might stream forth from His glorified body, there will come to you, too, an experience in which the veil shall be taken away and the most holy and the holy shall be one. The hidden glory of the secret place will stream into your conscious daily life: the service of the holy place will all be in the power of the eternal Spirit.

Andrew Murray (1828-1917) was an ordained minister in the Dutch Reformed Church of South Africa and the author of numerous devotional works that have become classics, including Abide in Christ,Absolute Surrender and Waiting on God. Adapted from The Spirit of Christ by Andrew Murray, (Bethany House Publishers). Used by permission.

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