Peter van Breemen, S.J., has written that the poor man accepts himself. He has a self-image in which the awareness of his limitation is very vivid but that does not depress him. This consciousness of his own insufficiency without feelings of self-hatred is typical of the poor in spirit.
He realizes that he does not love as much as his heart would wish. This past Lent, I preached six weeklong parish renewals in succession. The last one in Downers Grove, Illinois, and on closing night I was pretty wiped out. More than one thousand people had attended, and as the recessional song began, I debated whether my body could handle another half hour of farewells and blessings in the vestibule. I could flee to the sacristy, divest, run to my room and crash. Spirit willing but flesh rebelling. Finally, I prayed for a little zap, opted for the vestibule, got into it as best I could and hit the boards around eleven.
The next morning a note addressed to me lay on the breakfast table. It read, “Dear Father Manning, I attended your parish renewal all this week. You are eloquent, brilliant, witty, poetic, aesthetic and … inflated. Last night when you stood in the vestibule after the service ended, where was the love in your eyes for each of us in the midst of your glory? Why didn’t you stoop down and hug those little children? Why didn’t you kiss the old ladies on the cheek? Why didn’t you look at us with your eyes from the core of your being, depth meeting depth, love meeting love? Man, are you blind!” The letter was signed, “A mirror.”