The Same Power

There is a song , popular on Christian radio, Same Power by Jeremy Camp, that I first heard as I left the SC Charismatic Conference in October, 2015. It was the very first song I heard after I got into my car and it struck me as confirmation of the conference and the Charismatic Renewal.
The chorus reads like this; “The same power that rose Jesus from the grave, the same power that commands the dead to wake lives in us, lives in us. The same power that moves mountains when He speaks, the same powers that can calm a raging sea, lives in us, lives in us. He lives in us, lives in us”.
How true. We have the Holy Spirit, the same Holy Spirit given to the disciples at Pentecost. We been given awesome gifts and we live in a world desperately in need of those gifts. So many around us are wounded in one way or another, whether spiritually, emotionally or physically. It is impossible for our priests and deacons to meet the needs of all those who need someone to pray with them.
We have been given these gifts for a reason. Take a good look at the world around us. Outside of our technological advances are we really any different from Pagan Rome? The Roman Empire was converted because the first Christians weren’t afraid to use the charismatic gifts God had given them. Why are we afraid to use these gifts? Why do we keep them secret as if we are ashamed of them? Why do we worry about what people will think?
Aren’t we called to step out in faith? Didn’t St Francis challenge us to be fools for Christ? Didn’t Jesus promise that we would do greater things than He? Is it a coincidence that the Catholic Charismatic Renewal began as our country was turning pagan?
We’ve been given the power to change the world, to turn this country back to God and to bring people back to the Church. We need to use this power. It is the only way we can change our country and the world for the better. Politics is not the answer, God and the gifts of the Holy Spirit are.
Pray with people; use the charismatic gifts God has given you. Reach out to those around you. Don’t be afraid or ashamed. The Holy Spirit is calling us to action. He will provide us all we need.

The Kind Of Homily Jesus Would Love!

This morning I heard an awesome homily. Possibly one of the best I ever heard. Father preached about Paul’s line in Hebrews 13:8. “Jesus is the same, yesterday, today and forever.” He is the first non-charismatic priest I ever heard point out that the Jesus we meet at mass is the same Jesus who multiplied the loaves, raised the dead and healed the sick.
Isn’t that what Jesus would want us to know? So often when we hear about the Real Presence it seems that Jesus is only present and interested in our spiritual well-being that He isn’t interested in our health or other problems. We vaguely imply that Jesus would bless us in communion but don’t really expect Him to do anything.
Yet in the Gospels we read so often that Jesus’ heart was moved with compassion. We see especially in Matthew that He healed all who came to Him in faith. We see Him changing water into wine. He sought the Samaritan woman at the well. He fed the multitudes so that they would not faint on their way home. Does this seem like a Jesus who only cares about us spiritually?
Didn’t He invite us to come to Him? Didn’t He come so that we might have life and have it abundantly? Didn’t He create the Eucharist as a means for us to come to Him? Isn’t He infinite love incarnate?
Our faith teaches that Jesus is present in the Eucharist in all of His Divinity and in all of His humanity. He is present in all of his power and infinite love. He passionately desires that we come to Him. He longs to bless us to knock our socks off. He is infinite love and infinite wisdom come down to earth in the form of a simple host and wine. The all-powerful God awaits us each time we come to communion so why do we expect so little.
This is the living Jesus in all of His power and glory! Open your hearts, allow Him to do what is best for you. Ask for everything He wants to give and expect miracles.

What Does Jesus Want Us to Know About The Eucharist?

Last night I taught the RCIA class about the Eucharist. After listening to what other members of the team felt was important to include, listening to several Cd’s, watching a video and reading many articles. I thought the most important thing was to be open to the Holy Spirit and think about what Jesus would want us to know.
I am really truly here, present in each host, present in all my power and divinity. I am not a symbol, not just a wafer or a watered down diluted version of myself. I am Jesus Christ present in all my power and glory. I am the same Jesus that walked the dusty roads of Galilee, the God-man who healed the paralytic, walked on water , calmed the storm, fed 5,000 with 5 loaves and a few fish and raised Lazarus from the dead.
I am the same Jesus who loved you so much I endured the most painful death in all of history so that you might spend eternity with me. I am the Jesus who could not bear to leave you, could not wait for you to die so I created the Eucharist as a way to be with you right now.
My love for you is so great, so immense, human words are absolutely inadequate to describe it. Niagara Falls pales in comparison to the love and blessings I long to pour out upon you.
I long for you to come to me. I long to bless you. I know you intimately. I know everything about you. I see all your physical weaknesses and problems, all the ways you suffered physically. I know how much you have suffered emotionally, how many times you have been hurt by others and all the times you have hurt yourself. I see how you beat yourself up, how you find it so difficult to forgive yourself, so difficult to love yourself. I see the sins that trap you and I passionately long to set you free, to make you a new creature in me.
I long for you to come to me in the Eucharist, come to me with an open heart, trusting me to pour my love upon you and do what is best. My desire is for you to be healed completely, whole and to know me intimately in communion, to know and experience my love. Come to me and open your heart so I may pour my love upon you.

Give Me Jesus!

There is a Christian song by Jeremy Camp entitled “Give me Jesus”. Its lyrics basically say Give me Jesus, Give me Jesus. You can have the rest of the world just give me Jesus.
It is a shame that our Protestant brethren don’t understand the Eucharist. Jesus is present in the Eucharist waiting for us to come to Him and wanting to bless us. We have to change the way we think of the Eucharist and the way we receive communion. Too many of us think of the Eucharist as a thing we receive not a person. We need to think of the Eucharist as a living person, Jesus, our savior who loves us so much He waits for us twenty-four hours a day in the Tabernacle. We get to receive God Himself. We should approach the Eucharist with the greatest reverence we are capable of focusing on Jesus and nothing else. We should realize what an awesome privilege to be Catholic and receive.
Think about it! Present in the Eucharist is Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, the same Jesus who walked on water, stilled the storm, changed water into wine, and healed the deaf, restored sight to the blind, cured lepers and the paralytic. The same Jesus who drove out demons, fed the 5,000 and raised Lazarus from the dead is present in each and every Eucharist. He is saying” Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened” He is there waiting for us every day in the Eucharist. This is God, the Creator of the Universe who has all the power and He sits waiting for us to receive Him and spend time with us. He loves us that much!
The Eucharist is the heart of our Catholic faith.  If we don’t believe in the Eucharist we might as well not be Catholic.  Where else can we find so much grace available to us?  Where else can we encounter the living Christ in such a concrete way?
We believe that Jesus is really present in the Eucharist.  This Jesus we receive is not a symbol.  He is not a watered down version of the Jesus of the Gospels, stripped of His power.  No! Jesus is present in all His power and glory.
I’m only a lay person but Father John Hardon, considered an expert on the Eucharist, wrote” We are to believe that the Eucharist is Jesus Christ – simply, without qualification. It is God become man in the fullness of His divine nature, in the fullness of His human nature, in the fullness of His body and soul, in the fullness of everything that makes Jesus, Jesus. He is in the Eucharist with His human mind and will united with the Divinity, with His hands and feet, His face and features, with His eyes and lips and ears and nostrils, with His affections and emotions and, with emphasis, with His living, pulsating, physical Sacred Heart. That is what our Catholic Faith demands of us that we believe. If we believe this, we are Catholic. If we do not, we are not, no matter what people may think we are.” This comes from his article, The Eucharist and Sanctity.
Simply put the Eucharist is Jesus Christ, our God waiting for us to come. The question is do we act like we believe this? Do we really believe that the Eucharist is Jesus with all the power He had when He performed miracles two thousand years ago. The same Jesus who died for us at Calvary, do we really believe this? If so how can we stay away? Why are churches so empty? Forget Sunday, why isn’t the Church packed everyday? Why do people spend thousands of dollars to pack St. James in Medjugorje when Jesus is present every day in our local parish?
Why don’t we go to church expecting miracles? Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and forever (Hebrews 13:8) and He is present at every mass. We should go in faith expecting to see miracles. As Jesus said in the Gospel we have a greater than Solomon, a greater than Jonah in the Tabernacle. Unlike the woman who touched His cloak we get to receive Jesus. We too should expect miracles. Too often we don’t see miracles because we don’t go in faith expecting to see them.
Our attitude should be more like Father Donald Calloway’s at the first mass he ever attended. He relates that at the Consecration of the mass he realized that God was present. To quote him, he said to himself “my God, my God I couldn’t believe it…This is it man! This is the meaning of the Cosmos. Man this is the meaning of time, of history….I just had an infusion of just Bam! Knowledge, God …and I was just worshipping. I was just adoring with all my being. Then I saw something that just blew my mind. These Filipino ladies got up and received Him. I was like what God is right there and you can go up and receive Him. You can consume love? …I couldn’t believe that God was so in love with them and me that He was willing to do something like that” I was so on fire with passion “ that I wanted to bum rush the altar, push the Filipino ladies aside and say give me Jesus.”
Do we ever want to bum rush the altar?
Are we really aware of Christ’s presence in the Eucharist? Do we really know in our hearts that Jesus, the Son of God is present in the Eucharist? Do we act as if He is there? Do we dress like we’re going to see God Almighty? Are we approaching Him excited and in awe with the greatest reverence? Do we realize what a privilege it is to receive Jesus? We are the envy of the angels. Ask yourself if that was someone famous like Queen Elizabeth or a president you liked and respected, would you dress and behave differently?
If we believed that God was there would we stay away on weekdays? Would we come late or leave early? Would we come expectantly? Expecting to see miracles, asking for miracles? Wouldn’t we run to church every time we had a problem? Wouldn’t we seek His advice on how to live our lives? Wouldn’t our lives be very different? Wouldn’t we prepare for mass a whole lot more?
All of the great saints were in love with the Eucharist. St. Joseph Cupertino was so on fire with love for the Eucharist that he often levitated off the ground when he held the Host. Padre Pio and Saint Ambrose have famous prayers for preparation and thanksgiving. Saint Sharbel Makhluf liked to say the noon mass so he could spend the whole morning in preparation and the afternoon in thanksgiving.
If you hear the conversion stories of many people especially former Protestant ministers, it is the Eucharist that drew them to the Church. Ministers like Scott Hahn, David Currie and Stephen Ray all mentioned the impact of the Eucharist on their decision to become Catholics. Once they understood the Eucharist they couldn’t stay away. Like the martyrs they were willing to pay a price. They had to give up their careers as ministers, their friends basically cut them off as dead and in some cases their family did too. Yet too many of us are unwilling to sacrifice a little sleep.
We should be on fire in love with Jesus in the Eucharist. People should have to drag us out of Church. God is there waiting for us and bless our socks off. How can we stay away?
The Mass is the most powerful prayer we could ever say if we focus on Jesus. It is a very powerful time to pray for others. Many priests teach that the time of the Consecration is a particularly powerful time to pray. Father DeGrandis teaches people to pray for others at the time of the Elevation and then for your own needs. People are healed simply by the presence of the Eucharist. Several priests with healing ministries, like Father John Hampsch and Father Ruane as well as DeGrandis have written books on the healing power of the Eucharist.
There are several priests who hold the Eucharist in a monstrance or lunette and pray over people for healing. One, Monsignor John Demkovich, said that it felt like electricity flowing from the host through his body to the person being prayed over.
This shouldn’t surprise us St. Paul tells us in Hebrews 13:8 that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever”. Well if Jesus performed miracles and healed people back then, He should be performing miracles today. Well then why wouldn’t He perform miracles today?
In the old days there was a greater reverence for the Eucharist. Before Pope Pius X people were not allowed to receive communion everyday. According to Father John Hampsch there was a point where you could only receive once a month and people spent two weeks to prepare for Communion and two weeks in thanksgiving. During the Medieval Era people strained to get a glimpse of the Host at the Elevation and Lord help the priest who didn’t raise it high or long enough. When my mother received her First Communion people fasted from midnight on. They couldn’t even have a sip of water. I remember fasting for three hours. I used to go to the 7:00 mass so I could come home for breakfast before school. I also remember long lines for confession on Saturdays.
We are blessed to live in an era where we can receive the Eucharist every day, when we don’t have to fast from midnight on or even three hours. We don’t have to fast for more than an hour but there is no reason we can’t try to fast longer in order to better prepare to receive Our Lord. No pope said we could only fast for an hour. All of us should try to do whatever we can to be more reverent and prepare for Communion.
I may not know much but I do know that the key to life and whatever happiness we can achieve in life sits twenty-four hours a day in the Tabernacle in the Eucharist. Jesus in the Eucharist is the key to life and the answer to all our problems.
We live in a truly messed up age. We are surrounded by evil and sin. Our country seems to have lost its way morally, politically and economically. We used to be respected for our morals and integrity, for our sacrifices made for others, for our willingness and ability to help others but not any more. Economically, we seem to be irrelevant. We seem to be a nation on the decline. Could our political decline be related to our moral decline, the spread of abortion, the dissolution of the family, the rise of gay rights and the spread of porn and trash across our airwaves?
The answer to all our problems lies in the Tabernacle. Present in the Tabernacle is the Power That Created the Universe and we basically ignore Him. Jesus is present in the Tabernacle virtually begging us to come to Him. He is waiting for us to come to Him. He wants us to bring our problems and trust Him to solve them. He wants us to adore Him. He is waiting but we’re not coming.
There is a movement in this country back to Adoration. There are parishes that have Adoration twenty-four hours a day. It takes work to get every hour covered but the blessings the parish experiences are worth it. I know of one parish. They have lines for confession every day not week. My estimate would be that over one hundred people go to confession during a normal week. I went there once during Holy Week. They had confession every day at one o’clock and after the 7PM mass. I went Wednesday night and was the forty-third person in line. On top of that they get about one hundred and fifty people or more at their week day masses. There are also four different prayer groups and a long list of committees operating in that parish. As for the Adoration Chapel, there are times it is so crowded people spill over into the church especially on weekends.
You can sense a difference in parishes where there is regular adoration. There is much more involvement of parishioners. There is a greater support for the parish and parish programs. There is a greater involvement in the Sacraments.
Adoration can and will change your life. The more time you spend with Jesus, the more He will work on you, the more He will change your heart and your life. You may not notice at first but over time you will find yourself becoming a new and better person. You may not know what to do. It may be a new experience for you but all you have to do is show up and spend time with Jesus in front of the Tabernacle or exposed in a monstrance. You don’t have to say anything; just try to focus on Jesus and His love for you. Ask Him to help you and be silent; let Him work on your heart. I know this may seem hard. Some times I doze off but that doesn’t limit Jesus. As long as I am there with Him, He can work on my heart.
The more people go to Jesus in Adoration, the more He will change them and this country. The solutions to our problems lies in taking them to Jesus in Adoration before the Eucharist and leaving them there to work out in His time. The more Catholics who do this, the more changes we will see. Our country seems to need a miracle but Jesus still performs miracles. What we need is to go to Him and pray for this country and ask Him to draw more and more people to Him. We need to point to Him in the Eucharist as the answer to our problems and go to Him as often and as long as possible. We need to stop running out of church as soon as possible to get to breakfast or lunch and stay as long as possible. We need to go as often as possible, not just Sundays. If we can’t make weekday mass we should whenever possible visit Him in the Tabernacle. If we’re tied up at work we can take a minute to face the Church and adore Him silently at times throughout the day. We can make spiritual communions.
If you want to change your life increase the time you spend in front of the Eucharist. It doesn’t have to be exposed. Even in the Tabernacle is good enough to change you. If you want to change your parish increase the time you spend in front of the Tabernacle and encourage others. As more and more people increase the time they spend praying before the Tabernacle the parish would gradually change. It may start slowly but it will happen if you keep going before the Tabernacle.
A small group of five or six people can change the whole parish if they go before the Tabernacle everyday and pray for the parish; pray for others to pray before the Eucharist. All the power in the Universe is there, more than enough to change the parish. Encourage people to spend time before the Eucharist. Give them prayers to say if they don’t know what to say. The Shepherds of Christ has several awesome prayers for this. You can order them from their website.www.sofc.org. Pass them out or leave them in the church. Do whatever you can to point people to Jesus in the Eucharist and encourage them to spend time with Him. They don’t have to talk, just be with Him in love and allow Him to work on their hearts.
Jesus is there in the Tabernacle waiting for us to come to Him for help with our personal lives. Jesus Christ, God Almighty, is waiting for us in the Tabernacle. He wants us to come to Him in the Eucharist. If you have a difficult decision to make, take it to the Lord in the Eucharist first. Ask Him to show you what to do and wait to see how He does it. It may be a strong sense of what to do, a decision made with a sense of peace or for those of us who are hard of hearing He may guide us through the advice of a human being.
If you need help with something go to Jesus in the Eucharist. I used to sit in church before the Tabernacle and work on talks for my charismatic prayer group. One example would be a series of teachings on Scott Hahn’s, The Lamb’s Supper. I also went to pray before the Eucharist before working on our Confirmation Retreat. When I had difficulties, I looked up at the Tabernacle and He gave me the ideas I needed. If I was upset or had a problem I’d run to the Adoration Chapel. Often I would go to the chapel or church simply to read books with him.
We need to stop thinking of the Eucharist or Communion as a thing, as something we do. We need to think of the Eucharist as God, a living person, Jesus Christ, who loves us and is waiting for us. We need to think of Him as our best friend, our provider, our protector, our healer, our guide, our everything, our life and our greatest love for He is all of these things. Going to mass shouldn’t be something we have to do on Sundays but something we want to do as often as possible. Our life should be centered on the Eucharist, how often we can get to mass should be the basis of our plans. I would suggest as you go forward to receive communion picture Jesus standing there with His arms wide open waiting to hug you.
I couldn’t imagine anywhere else I would want to be but in church the morning after my mom died. Where else would I go but to Jesus. Jesus in the Eucharist is the answer to all our problems. If we put Him first life will be a lot more peaceful and joyful. We need to come to Him and trust in Him. He should be our first not our last resort. He has all of the power in the Universe. He can handle all our problems.
We should think of the Eucharist as pure love, the most powerful, most intense love that we could ever imagine the most powerful in the Universe. The Eucharist is this incredible Love waiting for us to come to Him so He could pour love upon us. This unbelievable Love waits for us every day. It loves each one of us intensely and personally and it waits for us 24/7. Why do we stay away?
There are people who’ve discovered that Jesus in the Eucharist still performs miracles today. I was at a conference at Saint Antoninius Church in Newark on the Eucharist several years ago maybe in 2003 or 2004. We started with the Rosary around 10:00 and had several talks during the day. Mass began at 3:00 and lasted two hours. There was a long time for prayer after communion. After it Father Bill Halbing the celebrant said he had a tingling in his legs and asked if anyone’s legs were healed. An old man stood up, moved his legs and said his arthritis was healed. Then there were others, maybe four or five. Nobody had prayed over them or anointed them. They were healed by Jesus in the Eucharist. Why?
Probably because they believed He would heal them if they asked and they were really prepared for the Eucharist after the Conference. They had prayed a lot that day and focused on Jesus, not the people around them or anything else. They weren’t in a hurry to put in their hour as so many of us do on Sundays. Preparation is important. At Medjugorje many say the Joyful and Sorrowful Mysteries in preparation and the Glorious in Thanksgiving. We need to spend more time preparing for mass and in thanksgiving.
I frequently pray with people before mass to be totally open to the graces that Jesus wants to pour out upon them and operations and procedures have been canceled or go better than expected. Various conditions have mysteriously disappeared. Biopsies have come out negative.
Yet so many of us never experience or witness miracles. Could the fault be ours? Take a look at yourself and ask. Could the fault be mine? Could it be that I come out the way I want to? Could it be that I, in my pride, think I know what is best so I reject the graces that God wants to give me? Do I seek only physical blessings and say no to the spiritual graces that must come first?
Am I really willing to change? Have I sacramentally prepared myself by confession? Am I seeking His blessings on my terms only or seeking to follow His way? Am I afraid to give up control?
Do I desire intimacy with Jesus? Do I really focus on Jesus or am I distracted by the people around me?  Do I desire a real relationship with Him or am I afraid to really let Him into my heart?
Do I trust Jesus? Do I believe that He understands what I’m going through and knows what is best for me? Am I afraid that if He really knew me, I would be rejected? Do I understand the intensity of His love and that I don’t have to be perfect? Do I understand that He loves me as I am, accepts me where I am and will bring me to a better place if I allow His grace to change me?
Have I lost the real meaning of the Mass? Am I so used to going through the motions of the outward ritual that I fail to give my heart to Jesus? Am I too focused on parish politics and activities?  Am I so busy wondering who’s at Mass or worrying about what Father said or didn’t say that I forget that Mass is a time for me to connect with Jesus?
Am I full of negative feelings towards others? Am I too busy complaining about the traffic, the music, the crowd or lack of attendance to be open to Jesus’ love?
Is my mind elsewhere?; Am I so focused on the problems at work or at home that I fail to open myself to the one who has the answer? Am I using the time I should be praying at Mass to mentally tick off my grocery list or the menu at Dunkin Donuts? Am I thinking about the game this afternoon, or the movie I saw last night.
We need to remember that we are called to be a Eucharistic people.  Jesus wanted to be at the center of our lives, to be with us, to comfort and console us, to strengthen us, to bless us immensely and even heal us.
We need to remember that in the Eucharist is God Who possesses infinite power, the God of infinite love and mercy Who wants what is best for us and avidly longs to bless us.  We need to remember that the Blessed Sacrament is most worthy of our attention, reverence and love, and worthy of mental and spiritual preparation and discipline.
Jesus passionately longs for us to receive Him. He ardently desires to give Himself to us. He fervently yearns for a relationship with us. It was because of His infinite love for us that He created the Eucharist to be with us. It was not enough for Him to just give up His life for our salvation. He wanted to give us Himself. His love is so great He is willing to wait countless hours for us to visit Him in the tabernacle. What more can He give us? Nothing on Earth can compare with what God has to give us in the Eucharist.
He longs to come to us as often as possible in the Eucharist. It is His desire to pour His love upon us, to bless us beyond our imagination. In every communion there is a virtual Niagara Falls of grace available to those who are truly open to His love. Yet we have to open ourselves to Him? Do we?

Miracles Still happen

Benny Hinn, the famous faith healer seen on TV, believes in the power of the Eucharist to heal so why don’t Catholics? Today I receive an article from Church Pop that told about Hinn’s talk given to a Protestant church. He said more healings occur in Catholic churches than in Pentecostal churches because Catholics believe that Jesus is really present in the Eucharist. Interesting statement from a Protestant preacher but you can see a video of his talk on-line for yourself.
Benny Hinn is right. I have witnessed healings myself. There was a lady in my parish who was in extreme pain. I prayed with her to be totally open to the power of the Eucharist on a Sunday before mass and she improved. The next Saturday I again prayed with her and the pain was gone. I learned that she had been hospitalized with a spinal infection that doctors were unable to treat. After being prayed over her infection disappeared.
I have prayed over people to be totally open to the grace of the Eucharist and operations were canceled, biopsies were negative , and one woman is now able to get through the week without pain medication.
Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist in all His divinity, power and most importantly in all of His infinite love for us. That is a basic teaching of our faith. All of the power that created the universe is present in the host. Hebrews 13:8 tells us that Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. That means when we receive communion we encounter the same Jesus who healed the paralytic, raised Lazarus from the dead and whose cloak healed the woman who bled for 12 years.So why don’t we expect to see healings occur?
The problem with too many of us is that we are like the people in the recent Time Warner commercials, you know the woman who doesn’t want a raise or more vacation time. In the Eucharist Jesus offers us much more than just physical healing. He looks at us and sees all of the spiritual and emotional wounds we have suffered from over the course of our lives and He wants to heal all of these wounds. He wants to pour on us a Niagara Falls worth of grace to help us heal and change our lives but we don’t want to change, to let go of our hurt or anger so therefore we lose out.
Pray to be totally open to the power and graces of the Eucharist including the grace to change. Allow Jesus to do whatever He wants knowing that His love for you is infinite. Then watch miracles happen.

I Need To Love You

I Need To Love You

This morning I was reading a reflection by Concepcion Cabrera de Armida in a book called Holy Hours. On page 115 one line jumped out at me. “It is an essential need of my life to love You”. How often have our thoughts ever gone in that direction? We need to love God. It is part of our nature.
We need to love God because He is so good. We need to worship Him because of who He is, because of His love and goodness to us. So often we pray to God but we’re seeking something, things we need, counsel, help with a decision, and help with our lives or something for someone else. So often our focus is on ourselves, our family or friends, not on God. So often our prayer is about ourselves not God.
Yet we were made to love God not try to use God. We treat Him often as an all-powerful Santa Claus. Give me, Give me! Yet He deserves and desires much more than that. Our prayer lives should be based on more than our human desires. We should be seeking God. Prayer should be about giving to God our love. We need to do that for our own sakes. It is what we were created for. Without this aspect of prayer our lives will always have an empty spot that we can’t fill.
How do we do this? I wish I knew! I’d be a saint. I know what I’ve read. There’s a story of a peasant who would sit in church for hours just looking at the Tabernacle and a priest asked him what he did. The peasant’s response was he just looked at Him and He looked at him. It sounds very simple but just being present and still in the presence of the Lord is very hard. We’re too task oriented and driven. We think we have to be always saying the rosary or praying out of our prayer books. But if you think about it in a good romance the most important thing you do is spend time with that person.
Maybe we can learn how to love God from romance or marital relationship. In the ideal relationship one party doesn’t seek to use the other or constantly ask for things from the other. We wouldn’t call it love but using the other person. At the same time as much as we say we love God, do we really if all our prayers are asking God to bless us, our family and friends. Even if we’re praying for vocations, world peace, the hungry in Africa, or the Church we still asking God to give. This isn’t to say any of those things are bad but there must be more to our love for God.
Some part of our lives must be God directed, pointed to and going to God and not expecting God to give us things or blessings back. This is the hard part to desire nothing back but just to express our love for God, praise and give to Him without expecting anything back.
How do we give God love? Two ideas from modern romance apply. One we seek to know the other. The second is that one sacrifices for the other.
How do we get to know God? One way is by asking God to reveal Himself to you and then reading the scriptures. Read not for the stories or to find verses that encourage you or apply to your situation but read in order to know God better, who He is as He revealed Himself in scripture. Another way would be to spend time with Him in adoration. Here there is help getting started. There are a lot of good books for adoration that would help you make a Holy Hour.
Holy Hours are interesting. They usually take an hour or more. Too often we rush in and out and we really never settle ourselves enough for God to speak to us. Secondly, we need to spend most of our time listening not reading. Many of the books entitled Holy Hours are divided into six to eight page sections. They take maybe fifteen or twenty minutes to read. The rest of the time should be spent in reflection, thinking and listening.
This is an example of the sacrifice of romance, spending real-time with the beloved rather than rushing in and out. It is also an example of listening that should be part of all love relationships.
We are called to sacrifice for love of God. Growing up we learned to give to the missions, to reach out to the poor and to help others. There are more things we can sacrifice like sleep in order to attend mass or to spend time in prayer. We could sacrifice watching TV shows that our beloved might not like because of the violence. Whatever we decide to sacrifice it is important that we make the sacrifice out of love for God. If you think about the sacrifices you made for your spouse or kids they are similar. You give of your time and energy to do something for one you love.
As I said earlier I don’t know myself exactly how to love God for the sake of loving God for His goodness but I know it is something we need to do and think about in order to grow in our spiritual lives. Weirdly enough, we probably have to ask God for the help we need to do so.

Lord, I want to love You because You are so good and worthy of my love. I confess I‘ve failed so many times before. I want to do better. I need Your grace to do so. Amen.

This was recently published in Wellsprings.

Jesus Loves Me

How often have you heard the song Jesus Loves Me? We‘ve all heard it over and over “Jesus loves me, this I know for the Bible tells me so. Yes, Jesus loves me, yes, Jesus loves me, yes, Jesus loves me, the Bible tells me so.” We’ve heard it but do we really believe it?
This is probably the hardest Christian concept for people to accept. That God loves them. We can believe in God and that He loves people but somehow we feel we’re the exception. Our sins are too great. God couldn’t love me. He may have forgiven me but love me that’s not possible. Often we failed to forgive ourselves. As a consequence even though we go to Church and the Sacraments we keep Jesus at a distance. It’s like we let Him in the front door and talk to Him in the front hallway, not letting Him in any further. We don’t want to let Him inside because if He really knew of all of the anger, resentment, unforgiveness we still had, He wouldn’t like us..
This is ridiculous! He knows every thought and sin we ever had or committed. Furthermore, if private revelation is true, He saw every sin that would ever be committed during the Agony in the Garden. Knowing all the sins that we would commit He still went to the Cross for us. As Paul tells us He gave His life for us while we were still sinners. He didn’t give His life for those who were perfect but for us out of love.
No where in Scripture does it say that Jesus died for every sinner but you. There were no exceptions. Every sinner and sin was included. No sin you committed could separate you from His love? Satan may tell you otherwise but he is the Prince of Lies.
“Jesus loves me for the Bible tells me so.” Look at the Bible. Too often we shy away from Scripture because our guilt makes us uncomfortable so we procrastinate and keep putting it off. Someday, I’ll read it. Don’t play Satan’s game. Read the Bible especially the Gospels. The Bible is God’s love letter to man.
In modern romances we prove our love by sacrificing for our loved one. Often we claim that we would die for the other. Jesus has done that for you. Read the Passion and instead of feeling guilty think; He loved me enough to go through all of that for me. Read it carefully. There wasn’t an inch of His body that wasn’t injured or bruised. Even the bottoms of His feet were injured walking barefoot through Jerusalem. Every drop of blood He had been given out of love. He gave everything He had, every drop of blood and water in His body.
Read the parables. The Prodigal Son tells of a father who watches day after day and runs to His son when he returns. The parable of the Lost Sheep tells of a God who will search endlessly for the lost. God is pursuing us. He loves us that much.
Read the Gospels. You won’t find any examples of Jesus rejecting sinners. Instead He was criticized by the so-called righteous for socializing with sinners. He didn’t keep sinners at a distance. Today’s gospel was the story of the woman who was a notorious sinner, most likely a prostitute who entered the house of Simon the Pharisee and washed the feet of Jesus with her tears. The Gospel didn’t say that Jesus said EWW, get away from me. Instead He rebuked Simon for His critical thoughts and talked about the great love of the woman.
Read the Psalms. Not only do they tell of God’s love for us but more than eighty times the Psalms describes God’s love as unfailing. “The Lord delights in those who…put their hope in His unfailing love” Psalm 147 tells us. Jeremiah tells us that God’s love is everlasting. That means forever. He won’t and did not stop loving you.
Isaiah tells us “Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed. says the Lord, who has compassion on you.” (Isaiah 54:10) If you read Matthew 14:14 it tells us that Jesus had compassion or love on all who came to Him. Why would you not be included in the all?
Not only the Bible tells of God’s love but the Sacraments are all examples of God’s love for us especially the Eucharist. Jesus loved us so much as to make Him self available to us every day, not just Sunday. He waits in the Tabernacle to bless us each and every time we visit. He longs for us to open the doors of our hearts to Him as we receive Communion.
Reconciliation is another example of the love of Jesus. Not only does He make it possible for us to receive forgiveness of our sins but He makes it possible for us to know through the priest’s absolution that we are forgiven. He gives us the advice, encouragement and grace we need to do better, all out of love. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is a sacrament of great love for us.
Every new day, every sunrise and sunset is a sign of God’s love. The beauty of Creation, of the stars; all remind us of the love of God. All of this was created out of love for us. Perhaps that’s why most retreats are given near beaches or in the country so we can be reminded by the beauty of nature that God loves us.
Every good thing we eat, see or touch is a sign of a loving God who loves to give His children good things. But we have to be open to accept His love. We have to put away our silly fears and doubts and believe God loves us. He loved us enough to give us free will to accept or reject Him. He won’t force us to accept His love but He will give us the grace we need to accept it if we ask.

This was recently published along with the Greatest Mystery in the summer edition of Wellsprings.