Stevie's Reviews > Abba's Child: The Cry of the Heart for Intimate Belonging

Abba's Child by Brennan Manning
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Sep 26, 2007

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bookshelves: spiritual-kog, books-owned

Poignant Quotes:

The sorrow of God lies in our fear of Him, our fear of life, and our fear of ourselves.

In my experience, self-hatred is the dominant malaise crippling Christians and stifling their growth in the Holy Spirit.

Often breakdowns lead to breakthroughs.

If we conceal our wounds out of fear and shame, our inner darkness can neither be illuminated nor become a light for others…but when we dare to live as forgiven men and women, we join the wounded healers and draw closer to Jesus.

Living out of the false self creates a compulsive desire to present a perfect image to the public so that everybody will admire us and nobody will know us.

This is the man I want myself to be but who cannot exist, because God does not know anything about him. And to unknown to God is altogether too much privacy. My false and private self is the one who wants to exist outside the reach of God’s will and God’s love – outside of reality and outside of life.

The sad irony is that the impostor cannot experience intimacy in any relationship.

The false self specializes in treacherous disguise. He is the lazy part of self, resisting the effort, asceticism, and discipline that intimacy with God requires.

Self-hatred always results in some form of self-destructive behavior.

[the true self is:] unself-conscious, unpretentious, immersed in life, absorbed in the present moment, breathing in God as naturally as a fish swimming in water.

It is the story of an ordinary man whose soul was seduced and ravished by Jesus Christ.

Define yourself radically as one beloved by God. God’s love for you and his choice of you constitute your worth. Accept that, and let it become the most important thing in your life.

We give glory to God simply by being ourselves.

“Who am I?” asked Merton, and he responded, “I am one loved by Christ.” This is the foundation of the true self.

Our controlled frenzy creates the illusion of well-ordered existence. We move from crisis to crisis, responding to the urgent and neglecting the essential.

The false self is skilled at the controlled openness that scrupulously avoids any significant self-disclosure.

“In a revealed religion, silence with God has a value in itself and for its own sake, just because God is God. Failure to recognize the value of mere being with God, as the beloved, without doing anything, is to gouge the heart out of Christianity.” – Edward Schillebeeckx

I take myself less seriously, become aware that the breath of the Father is on my face and that my countenance is bright with laughter in the midst of an adventure I thoroughly enjoy.

We huff and puff to impress God, scramble for brownie points, thrash about trying to fix ourselves, and live the gospel in such a joyless fashion that it has little appeal to nominal Christians and unbelievers searching for truth.

My dignity as Abba’s child is my most coherent sense of self.

Because the shining sun and the falling rain are given both to those who love God and to those who reject God, the compassion of the Son embraces those who are still living in sin.

Experientially, the inner healing of the heart is seldom a sudden catharsis or an instant liberation from bitterness, anger, resentment, and hatred. More often it is a gentle growing into oneness with the Crucified who has achieved our peace through His blood on the cross. This may take considerable time because the memories are still so vivid and the hurt is still so deep. But it will happen. The crucified Christ is not merely a heroic example to the church: He is the power and wisdom of God, a living force in His present risenness, transforming our lives and enabling us to extend the hand of reconciliation to our enemies.

The heartfelt compassion that hastens forgiveness matures when we discover where our enemy cries.

Living in the wisdom of accepted tenderness profoundly affects my perception of reality, the way I respond to people and their life situations.

The self-acceptance that flows from embracing my core identity as Abba’s child enables me to encounter my utter brokenness with uncompromising honesty and complete abandon to the mercy of God. As my friend Sister Barbara Fiand said,”Wholeness is brokenness owned and thereby healed.”

Instead of expanding our capacity for life, joy, and mystery, religion often contracts it.

Blame is a defensive substitute for an honest examination of life that seeks personal growth in failure and self-knowledge in mistakes.

A vague uneasiness about ever being in right relationship with God haunts the pharisee’s conscience. The compulsion to feel safe with God fuels this neurotic desire for perfection. This compulsive endless moralistic self-evaluation makes it impossible to feel accepted before God. His perception of personal failure leads to a precipitous loss of self-esteem and triggers anxiety, fear, and depression.

In sharp contrast to the pharisaic perception of God and religion, the biblical perception of the gospel of grace is that of a child who has never experienced anything but love and who tries to do her best because she is loved. When she makes mistakes, she knows they do not jeopardize the love of her parents. The possibility that her parents might stop loving her if she doesn’t clean her room never enters her minds. They may disapprove of her behavior, but their love is not contingent on her performance.

For the Pharisee the emphasis is always on personal effort and achievement. The gospel of grace emphasizes the primacy of God’s love. The Pharisee savors impeccable conduct; the child delights in the relentless tenderness of God.

The gospel portrait of the beloved Child of Abba is that of a man exquisitely attuned to His emotions and uninhibited in expressing them. The Son of Man did not scorn feelings as fickle and unreliable. They were sensitive emotional antennae to which He listened carefully and through which He perceived the will of His Father for congruent speech and action.

Our inner child is not an end in itself but a doorway into the depths of our union with our indwelling God, a sinking down into the fullness of the Abba experience, into the vivid awareness that my inner child is Abba’s child, held fast by Him, both in light and in shadow.

Limiting the resurrection either to the past or to the future makes the present risenness of Jesus largely irrelevant, safeguards us from interference with the ordinary rounds and daily routine of our lives, and preempts communion now with Jesus as a living person.

In other words, the resurrection needs to be experienced as present risenness. If we take seriously the word of the risen Christ, ”Know that I am with you always; yes, to the end of time” (Matthew 28:20), we should expect that He will be actively present in our lives. If our faith is alive and luminous, we will be alert to moments, events, and occasions when the power of resurrection is brought to bear on our lives. Self-absorbed and inattentive, we fail to notice the subtle ways in which Jesus is snagging our attention.

Hope knows that if great trials are avoided great deeds remain undone and the possibility of growth into greatness of soul is aborted.

The central miracle of the gospel is not the raising of Lazarus or the multiplication of the loaves or all the dramatic healing stories taken together. The miracle of the gospel is Christ, risen and glorified, who this very moment tracks us, pursues us, abides in us, and offers Himself to us as companion for the journey

Contemplation, defined as looking at Jesus while loving Him, leads not only to intimacy but to the transformation of the person contemplating.

Our impulse to tell the salvation-story arises from listening to the heartbeat of the risen Jesus within us.

The imposter recoils at the prospect of telling the story because he fears rejection. He is tense and anxious because he must rely on himself; his power is limited by his paltry resources. He dreads failure.

The moment we acknowledge that we are powerless, we enter into the liberating sphere of the risen One and we are freed from anxiety over the outcome.

The heart is the symbol we employ to capture the deepest essence of personhood. It symbolizes what lies at the core of our being; it defines irreducibly who we really are. We can know and be known only through revealing the revelation of what is in our heart.

“All religion experience at its roots is an experience of an unconditional and unrestricted being in love.” – Bernard Lonergan

The recovery of passion begins with the recovery of my true self as the beloved…John did not believe that Jesus was the most important thing; he believed that Jesus was the only thing.

Until I lay my head on Jesus’ breast, listen to His heartbeat, and personally appropriate the Christ-experience of Johns’ eye-witness, I have only a derivative spirituality.

The Christ of faith is no less accessible to us in His present risenness than was the Christ of history in His human flesh to the beloved disciple.

Leadership in the church is not entrusted to successful fund-raisers, brilliant biblical scholars, administrative geniuses, or spellbinding preachers (though these assets may be helpful), but to those who have been laid waste by a consuming passion for Christ – passionate men and women for whom privilege and power are trivial compared to knowing and loving Jesus.

In John’s Gospel, the Jews are said to be incapable of believing because they “look to one another for approval” (5:44). There appears to be a radical incompatibility between human respect and authentic faith in Christ.

Anthony of Padua opened every class he taught with the phrase, “Of what value is learning that does not turn to love?”

The one great passion in Jesus’ life was His Father. He carried a secret in His heart that made Him great and lonely.

…who we are in God is of ultimate significance. Who one is transcends what one does or what one says or what descriptive traits and qualities one has.

If you want to know what a person really believes, don’t just listen to what he says, watch what he does.

A profound mystery: God becomes a slave. This implies very specifically that God wants to be known through servanthood. Such is God’s own self-disclosure.

The imponderable trait of the human psyche is its ability to make irrational judgments about worthwhile human investments along with its refusal to view life in light of eternity.

Saint Benedict, the founder of Western monasticism, offers the sober advice to “keep your own death before your eyes each day.” It is not a counsel to morbidity but a challenge to faith and fortitude. Until we come to terms with this primal fact of life, as Parker Palmer noted, there can be no spirituality worth speaking of.

“The prospect of being hanged concentrates a man’s mind wonderfully.” – Samuel Johnson

My death-defying no to despair at the end of my life and my life-affirming yes to seemingly insurmountable problems in the midst of my life are both animated by hope in the invincible might of the risen Jesus and in the immeasurable scope of His power in us who believe (Ephesians 1:19).

Paul Claudel once stated that the greatest sin is to lose the sense of sin.

The release from chronic egocentricity starts with letting Christ love them where they are.

The lives of those fully engaged in the human struggle will be riddled with bullet holes. Whatever happened in the life of Jesus is in some way going to happen to us. Wounds are necessary. The soul has to be wounded as well as the body. To think that the natural and proper state is to be without wounds is an illusion. Those who wear bulletproof vests protecting themselves from failure, shipwreck, and heartbreak will never know what love is. The unwounded life bears no resemblance to the Rabbi.

Confession of fault requires a good self-concept. Repression of fault means a bad self-concept.

The ragtag cabal of disciples who have caught the spirit of the bride, opened the door to Jesus, reclined at the table, and listened to His heartbeat will experience at least four things.

First, listening to the Rabbi’s heartbeat is immediately a Trinitarian experience.

Second, we realize we are not alone on the Yellow Brick Road.

Third, when we recline at the table with Jesus we will learn that the recovery of passion is intimately connected with the discovery of the passion of Jesus.

The etymological root of “passion” is the Latin verb passere, “to suffer.”

Christianity consists primarily not in what we do for God but in what God does for us – the great, wondrous things that God dreamed up and achieved for us in Christ Jesus.
Know God
Love God
Love people – pass on to others what God has shown me about enjoying him and drawing near to Him
Make disciples
Become like Jesus
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Reading Progress

September 26, 2007 – Shelved
April 7, 2008 – Shelved as: spiritual-kog
Started Reading
June 7, 2009 – Shelved as: books-owned
June 7, 2009 – Finished Reading

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