How is the Little Way like Spiritual Judo?

In martial arts, the “gentle way” of using your opponent’s force against him is known as Judo. One of the consequences of original sin, remaining even after baptism, is that our fallen human nature is inclined to sin. We are thus summoned to the battle of prayer, which aims at restoring our filial trust in the Heavenly Father’s goodness. In a nutshell, this is what is accomplished whenever we follow the teachings of our dear sister and diocesan patroness, St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus. She advocates a spiritual childhood as “the path of trust and total abandonment of self,” where the only true priority for us living here on earth is to pull Jesus by the heartstrings with the “the flowers of little sacrifices,” as if He simply cannot resist such attempts stemming from our great need and eager desires!

She goes on to say, “How sweet is the way of love ... knowing how to draw profit from everything;” it “quickly consumes everything that can be displeasing to Jesus; it leaves nothing but a humble and profound peace in the depths of the heart.” Whenever we mess up, we feel compelled to hide; instead, we should do the opposite, by running straight away into the loving arms of our tender-hearted God who will make it all better. Whatever enemy spirit is coming against us, we use it to our advantage. Essentially, whatever he is pouring on us to hurt us and hold us back, we prayerfully pour into the wounds of Jesus, allowing Him to transform all of it into blessings for our ongoing conversion. It is a great exchange: we give God all the garbage, and He gives us all His grace!

Many people do not persevere “because they do not want to pay the price of growth…they don’t abandon prayer or God altogether. They remain ‘good’ people, but they settle for a level of comfortable mediocrity: loving, but not too much; giving, but only within the comfortable limits they have set for themselves ... We need to risk total honesty with God” (Father Thomas Green, Drinking From a Dry Well; who also says, “The Little Way is the only way.”). There is no holding anything back on the path of “nothing but confidence and love,” which is how the enemy is defeated, flipped flat on his own back by the movements of grace we have opened up to and cooperate with as our only leverage.

We will also face opponents such as discouragement, distractions, dryness, spiritual laziness, negligence, festering resentments, preoccupations with trivial things, ego, thinking we do not have the time, or feeling that prayer is useless. This challenges us to rise above by means of humility, trust, and perseverance, since “Prayer is a gift of grace but it always presupposes a determined response on our part because those who pray ‘battle’ against themselves, their surroundings, and especially the Tempter who does all he can to turn them away from prayer.” (CCC, 572-574) St. Thérèse paints the picture: “I want to give all to Jesus, since He is making me understand that He alone is perfect happiness. Everything will be for Him, everything! And even when I have nothing to offer Him, like this evening, I will give Him that nothing!”