January 24, 2018: Something Out Of Nothing

~by Louis Templeman

For years I have been convinced that the most popular “prayer closet” in America is the toilet. It is there the pray-er is most likely to be alone. Why is that? Is it because we do not properly prioritize prayer? Or, is it because we are just good at multi-tasking; making the mundane and necessary toilet into a prayer throne.

This prayer closet speaks of humility and demands modesty. It houses the universal tasks of necessity, where we all are reduced to basics. Perhaps, in this posture of humility, the person in prayer may more easily assume that effective level of prayer power known as being “poor in spirit”. However, it takes more than posture alone. A person who is poor in spirit embraces his nothingness before God. As St. Thérèse of Lisieux once said: “We all think we know our powers. Some of us say we know our faults. None of us knows his nothingness. And, that is the only thing that matters.”

I came to an awareness of the value of nothingness recently while meditating on the Holy Spirit. I was gazing at a reproduction of the icon of the Holy Trinity by Andrei Rublev, and I began to wonder why a person could blaspheme the Father and the Son and be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit could not be forgiven. Then my mind wandered to the act of creation where it is said the “earth was formless void”. This void, this nothing, was just what the Holy Spirit needed to perform his mighty creation work.

It appears the earth was in a state of nothingness. Within that state of nothingness, the Holy Spirit was able to work his wonder of creation. The spiritual principle here, I believe, is obvious.

When the angel of Gabriel confronted the Virgin Mary with the news that would rock her world, indeed, rock the whole world, he found her to be a humble handmaid of the Lord who chose willingly to submit to whatever God intended for her. Through this poverty of spirit came the new creation.

When the Centurion called for Jesus to heal his servant, he said, “Speak the word only for I am not worthy for you to come under my roof.” In this way he became an example of faith that shines through salvation history. Being aware of his nothingness, aware of the tender love of an all-powerful God and driven by his need and love for his servant he opened himself to Christ and the Holy Spirit could do a miracle.

When Peter was confronted by a miracle-catch of fish he became aware of his nothingness before Christ and said, “Lord, depart from me for I am a sinful man.” This gave God the opportunity to make him a “fisher of men,” and an apostle of the new creation.

Elizabeth revealed her poverty of spirit when she said to Mary, “Who am I that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” It was then that John the Baptist was filled with the Holy Spirit in the womb on the strength of his mother’s faith. Elizabeth embraced her own “nothingness” before the will of God whose steadfast love is so constant. In 2 Corinthians 5: 17, Paul wrote: “So, if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!”

Once a person understands that all of us have egregiously sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God and have earned for ourselves no greater future than the darkness of a life without God’s light (indeed, he is that light) then he can present himself as a “formless void” to God.

This provides for all of us free moral agents the opportunity, to come before the Holy Spirit in humility and faith, for him to make in us a new creation. You could say that once we come to acknowledge our nothingness then Jesus can become our everything.

To blaspheme the Holy Spirit is to short circuit that process. Blasphemy is basically an act of arrogance that destroys the poverty of spirit that is the exclusive workshop of the Holy Spirit. This blasphemy is more than a mouthful of hateful words. For these words come from a lifestyle of self-righteousness and haughtiness that perverts the development of poverty of spirit. Out of this, the Holy Spirit cannot create anything. This is the fruit that comes from blaspheming the Holy Spirit. Give him your nothing and he will make a new creation in Christ.

Once you realize without God you are nothing the Holy Spirit can make something of you.


Louis writes from Jacksonville, Florida where he lives with his old friend and wonderful bride, Joy. They transformed their friendship into the sacrament of marriage on August 30, 2012. They share their home with two self-absorbed, playful, twin cats (Flo and Jet) and one very allusive and arrogant cat named D. Louis has recently been diagnosed with Parkinson’s and is fighting the good fight. Much of what he writes these days he is sharing his journey with us. Please keep Louis and his wife Joy in your prayers.

CLICK HERE to visit Louis’ Catholic Journeyman Archive

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