Most of the heroic figures in what’s called the Great Religions made their names and sealed their reputations, not by conventional acts of heroism, but demonstrating “hiddenness in God” – hiddenness is an “essential quality of spiritual life. Solitude, silence, ordinary tasks, being with people without great agendas, sleeping, eating, working, playing … all of that without being different from others,” as Henri Nouwen described it.
Nouwen, the late Dutch priest whose reputation as a writer and man of faith is worldwide, said, “It is in hiddeness that we, like Jesus, can increase ‘in wisdom, in stature, and in favor with God and with people.’” (Luke 2:51)
And, one of the early church fathers, St. John Chrysostom, said, “Happiness can only be achieved by looking inward and learning to enjoy whatever life has and this requires transforming greed into gratitude.”
Many of the people of faith who most inspire over a span of several hundred years came from backgrounds in which they indulged themselves seeking happiness, but found their destination in giving it all away and becoming “hidden” in God.
The influence of faithful people who hid themselves for God’s work among people include Francis of Assisi, who seemed to have had it made in a well-off family of Assisi in the 13th century, but he was restless until he turned his intellect, energy and skills to helping people for God’s sake.
This stirring ascription is attributed to him:
‘The Divine Praises’
You are holy, Lord, the only God,
and Your deeds are wonderful …
… You are humility. You are endurance.
You are rest. You are peace.
You are joy and gladness.
You are justice and moderation.
You are all our riches, and You suffice for us.
You are beauty.
You are gentleness.
You are our protector.
You are our guardian and defender.
You are our courage. You are our haven and our hope.
You are our faith, our great consolation.
You are our eternal life, Great and Wonderful Lord,
God Almighty, Merciful Savior.
Every virtuous quality is enmeshed in Francis’ praise, especially fulfillment in joy, gladness, justice and moderation, divine riches sufficient for all.