Sign Up for our Free Daily Email Updates / Catholic Spiritual Direction

The Hidden Life – Divine Intimacy Reflection

The Hidden Life


Presence of God– O Jesus, hidden God, teach me the secret of the hidden life.


for "The Hidden Life" post - ChristAndHisMotherStudyingTheScripturesHenryOssawaTannerMaryJesusChristBVMBlessedMotherMadonnaDuring His life on earth, Jesus chose to conceal His divinity under the veil of His humanity. Except on very rare occasions — and this is especially true during the thirty years preceding His apostolate — He never allowed His greatness, His wisdom, or His omnipotence to be manifest. Later, during the years of His public life, He willed to adapt Himself to the Apostles’ imperfect way of living and acting, He who was infinitely superior to them. Jesus is truly the hidden God and teaches us by His example the value of the hidden life.

To imitate Jesus’ humility perfectly, we must share in His hidden life, veiling, as He did, everything, in us that might attract attention or praise from others, whatever might single us out or make us noticed, fleeing as far as we are able from every mark of distinction. “Ama nesciri et pro nihilo reputare,” love to live unknown and reputed as nothing (Imitation of Christ I:2,3); by doing this we will become more like Jesus who, being God, willed to take “the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men, and in habit found as a man” (Philippians 2:7). Jesus Himself has taught us how to practice the hidden life, insisting that we do our good works in secret, only to please God, and without ostentation. He tells us also to guard the secret of our interior life and our relations with Him: “When thou shalt pray, enter into thy chamber and shut the door”; to conceal our mortifications and penances: “When thou fastest, anoint thy head and wash thy face”; not to display our good works: “When thou dost give alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doth,” for those who do their good works before men, to be seen by them, “have received their reward” and will receive no further one from their heavenly Father (cf. Matthew 6:1-18).


“O Jesus who has said, ‘My kingdom is not of this world,’ You teach me that the only kingdom worth coveting is the grace of being ‘unknown and esteemed as naught’ and the joy that comes from self-contempt…. Ah! like You, I want my face to be hidden from all eyes; I want no one here below to esteem me! You wanted ‘neither beauty nor comeliness…. Your look was as it were hidden and despised, whereupon we esteemed You not.’ I too, wish to be like You, without comeliness and beauty, unknown to every creature.

“Yes, all must be kept for You with jealous care, because it is so sweet to work for You alone! Then the heart is filled with joy and the soul with gladness! Grant that no one may think of me, that my very existence may be, as it were, unknown to all; only one thing do I desire: to be forgotten and counted for nothing. Yes, I want to be forgotten, not only by creatures, but even by myself, so as to be totally reduced to nothingness and to have no other desire than Your glory, my Jesus—that is all! My own, I abandon to You” (Thérèse of the Child Jesus, Story of a Soul 7 – NV – L).

CarpenterAndSonJesusChristStJoseph2O Lord, to be forgotten by people, to work without having my labor known, to spend in silence and self-effacement a humble life in which nothing appears great, nothing is worthy of attention—all this will thoroughly mortify my pride. This will be a powerful remedy for my innate desire to make myself important.

I confess, O Lord, and You already know, that unlike the saints, I am far from desiring to be forgotten and ignored. I often use little ways of drawing attention to myself and of putting myself forward. But You know, Jesus, that I am ill, and You also know that I wish to be cured by modeling my life on Yours. It is only in order to be like You that I can accept and love effacement; it is only to merit Your love, Your glance, Your intimacy, that I can renounce the good will and esteem of creatures. O Jesus, increase my desire to live for You alone, and I will find it sweet to live unknown to men.


Note from Dan: This post on “The Hidden Life” is provided courtesy of Baronius Press and contains one of two meditations for the day. If you would like to get the full meditation from one of the best daily meditation works ever compiled, you can learn more here: Divine Intimacy. Please honor those who support us by purchasing and promoting their products.

Art: Christ and His Mother Studying the Scriptures, Henry Ossawa Tanner, circa 1909, PD-US published before January 1, 1923; Carpenter and Son, Thuydatnganchau, 5 November 2012 own work, CCA-SA; both Wikimedia Commons. Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, mirror from open source material.

Print Friendly
Profile photo of Dan Burke

About Dan Burke

Dan is the President of the Avila Foundation, the parent organization of, the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation, and Divine Intimacy Radio, author of the award-winning book, Navigating the Interior Life - Spiritual Direction and the Journey to God, and his newest books Finding God Through Meditation-St. Peter of Alcantara, 30 Days with Teresa of Avila, Into the Deep and Living the Mystery of Merciful Love: 30 Days with Thérèse of Lisieux. Beyond his "contagious" love for Jesus and His Church, he is a grateful husband and father of four, the Executive Director of and writer for EWTN's National Catholic Register, a regular co-host on Register Radio, a writer and speaker who provides online spiritual formation and travels to share his conversion story and the great riches that the Church provides us through authentic Catholic spirituality. Dan has been featured on EWTN's Journey Home program and numerous radio programs.

please consider supporting our mission with a donation!

  • Jeanette

    Re: The Hidden Life: What about people who give a testimony or a witness concerning their spiritual life when asked to do so by a religious organization? Is there not a danger to possible spiritual pride in this or of revealing too much? I am now struggling with these questions in my life. Your comments would be appreciated. Thank you.

    • MariaGo

      Related to this, I also have a question. Its good to have spiritual friends right? Is it also wrong to talk about one’s prayer life with a close spiritual friend?

      • LizEst

        Yes, MariaGo, it is indeed good to have spiritual friends. And, it is not wrong to talk about one’s prayer life with a close spiritual friend. Close spiritual friends can be a great source of strength in the spiritual life. And, there is no greater friend than one who wants your spiritual good and your everlasting happiness in heaven.

        But, it is also important to have a spiritual director. A good spiritual director would have the experience and training to be able to guide and direct you in ways a spiritual friend would probably not be able to do…unless one’s spiritual friend is also a faithful spiritual director. That said, one should not blur the lines between spiritual direction and friendship. It is something known as a professional boundary, which should not be crossed. Other professions have this, too.

        God bless you, MariaGo. Hope this helps, as well!

        • MariaGo

          Helps a lot! Thank you! God Bless! 🙂

    • LizEst

      Jeanette — These are valid and important questions. And, I would recommend you discuss this with your spiritual director.

      We take joy in making Christ known and doing His will. So, yes, there is a danger that we think it is our doing when it is actually God who is the one Who accomplishes all the good we do. We collaborate with Him and cooperate with His grace. And even, when we receive a spiritual crown in heaven, it is really God crowning His accomplishments in us.

      St Paul himself raised the question: What have we that we have not received? You are wise in understanding that a danger to spiritual pride exists under these conditions. Many fall prey to it.

      A confessor once told me that, for any success in one’s personal life, for any compliment we receive, in order for it not to go to one’s head, the best way is to give the glory to God. If you do this often, it will eventually become second nature and there will be less chance of taking ownership from your testimony or witness. One of our Church fathers said, “The glory of God is man fully alive.” I would add that that full “aliveness” comes when referring all good, all accomplishment, to Him from Whom all good things come.

      God bless you, Jeanette. Hope this helps!

      • Jeanette

        Now I know why you say, “To God be the glory” when you are complimented. This is a wonderful way to counteract any spiritual pride that may arise. I will discuss my questions with my spiritual director. Thank you Liz.

        • Liz Estler

          ? You’ve found me out! Just following counsel given me. Now, it’s very much a part of me. To God be the glory!

        • LizEst

          ?You’ve found me out! Just following counsel given me. Now, it’s very much a part of me. To God be the glory!

          • Jeanette

            Yes, to God be the glory!!!

    • Dan Burke

      Jeanette – if you are talking about testimony to the voice of God in prayer or things like that, check out Ascent of Mount Carmel book 2 chapters 28 and 29 or thereabouts. In summary there is a great danger of pride. You will find that John of the Cross simply admonishes us to rejoice in any favors but to not focus on them. Sharing them at times can be helpful to others but we must be very careful about it. I cover this in an upcoming Q&A on Divine Intimacy Radio – March some time or early April.

      • Jeanette

        I am talking about my prayer life, as they feel it would be helpful to others. I checked out your reference – Ascent of Mount Carmel, thank you. My reaction when being asked was to say no as my prayer life is very personal between God and me and I don’t believe should be revealed to anyone else, except my spiritual director. I am also wary that doing so may entice one to spiritual pride. I was trying to discern if this is something that the Holy Spirit wants me to do as I have been asked three times. I will discuss it with my spiritual director for further clarification. Thank you Dan.

      • Jeanette

        Your advice is right, of course. Today, my spiritual director said no to me doing any testimony or witness about my prayer life.

  • Cynthia Diane

    My mother, who went to Heaven this past November, was a perfect example of this “hidden life”. She was married for 68 years to my father (still living), and was perfectly attentive to her vocation as wife and mother. Many who knew her considered her a “living saint”. She prayed daily, attended daily mass and 2 hours of adoration per week. She never belonged to any clubs or organizations. She was all about “the other”, never drawing attention to herself. She suffered most of her life with physical illnesses with heroic virtue. At the end of her life, when dementia diminished her ability to formulate prayer in her mind, she still clung to her familiar rosary beads praying them over and over again. She loved the Blessed Mother. She is a role model for her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. Her home was her monastery. Her life was her witness, speaking louder than words. I thank God for the gift of a saintly mom, who lived such a beautiful “hidden life”.

    • LizEst

      Our condolences on the loss of your mother, Cynthia Diane. Thank you for sharing about her. She reminds me of our Blessed Mother’s example. May your mother pray for us all. God bless you and all your family!

  • Cynthia Diane

    Thank you Liz…God bless you as well!

Skip to toolbar