Author Archives: Fr. James Chelich

Your Heart Has Two Doors

By Father James Chelich

Your heart was made with two doors, because you are to be God’s partner in God’s great work of giving life. One door of your heart opens up to God. The other door opens up to the world and the people around you. Jesus taught us this: “One of the teachers of the people came up to Jesus. He asked Jesus: ‘Which is the first of all the commandments?’ Jesus replied: ‘This is the first…You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the second, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.’” Mark 12:29-31 The two doors of your heart make you unique among all God’s creatures. If want to be happy you will have to open both doors of your heart and keep them open. The Names of the Doors Saint Paul, the apostle of Jesus, taught about the two doors of the heart. He gave each door a name: “May Christ dwell in your hearts through FAITH, and may CHARITY be the root and foundation of your life. Thus you will be able to grasp fully, with all the holy ones, the breadth and length, height and depth of Christ’s love, and experience this love which surpasses all knowledge.” Ephesians 3:17-19 One door of your heart is called, “Faith”. It is the door that opens up to God. The other door is called, “Charity”. It opens up to your family and friends, to the people in your neighborhood, at work and at school, and to the things and creatures in the world around you. About the Door called Charity The door that opens up to the world and to the people around you often draws most of your attention and gets most of your energy. It takes lots of time and energy to open your mind to new ideas and to understand new thoughts; to open your heart to new people and to discover and deal with your emotions. It is right that all of this should take a great deal of your attention and energy. Sometimes you may find that you have a hard time keeping this door of your heart open. It can become very hard to keep your mind open, to be tolerant, to learn and grow. Work or study can become difficult and the goals that you set for yourself can seem very distant. It may happen that in struggling to achieve your goals you meet defeat. You may then find yourself wanting to give up, to turn and run away. It can also become very hard to keep this door of your heart open to others. Relationships can become difficult and painful — even with your family and others close to you. You can begin to feel that no one cares about you. When you find these things happening there will be lots of people advising you to get help: to see a tutor to help you learn, to see an advisor to help you make decisions, to see a counsellor to help you deal with your relationships and your emotions. These are not bad ideas, but none of these things are going to work unless you remember what every true Christian knows: that your heart has another door! You cannot expect to receive through the Door of Charity what can only come through the Door of Faith. This has only caused great frustration and much unhappiness for many. About the Door called Faith The Bible tells us who stands behind the other door of your heart: “Here I stand, knocking at the door. If anyone hears me calling and opens the door, I will enter their house, and have supper with them, and they with me.” Revelation 3:20 If you are experiencing pain and difficulty in dealing with others or the world around you, open the door of your heart called Faith. If you open it, you will find Jesus behind it. If you invite him, he will enter your heart. He will bring peace within you. He will remind you of how much you are worth and show you the goodness and strength that lies within you. You will find in Jesus a love that makes you whole and confident again. Together with Jesus you will find that you can again open the Door of Charity and face the world and the people around you. Together with Jesus you will find that you are ready to move forward and grow. You will find that a counsellor’s guidance can now help you put your feelings together. You will find that a tutor’s assistance can help you understand the ideas and connect the concepts necessary to help you learn. You will even find that what appeared to be defeat no longer makes you want to run away but now makes you want to stand tall, face reality and walk through it to your future. The River of Life The River of Life flows from God right up to the door of your heart (Ezekiel 47:1-12). This river is full of life-giving things — things like acceptance, honesty, understanding, the truth, compassion, the right kind of support, strength and faithful love. These things God delivers personally to the door of your heart. They are there for you. They lie behind the Door of Faith. You open the Door of Faith when you give your life to Jesus, when you read the Word of God and take time for personal prayer, when you worship at Mass and receive the Sacraments. Pray every day — for at least five minutes. You can say your favorite prayers but always try to a say a prayer like this: Jesus, I give my life to you: the good and the bad, my joy and my tears, my heartaches and my struggles. I accept you as my Lord and Savior. Read the Bible for five minutes every day, and come to church and worshiping God at Mass every weekend. The River of Life must flow! Once it gets inside a human heart it must continue its flow. If all it does is just get in, then it ceases to flow and none of its blessings have the power to change your life. The River of Life, with all the blessing it carries for you, wants to flow through you. The River pushes against the other door of your heart, the Door of Charity. It wants to flow out through this door into the lives of the people and world around you. You open the Door of Charity by learning to see the faces and know the names of the least of your brothers and sisters, near and far, throughout the world (Luke 16:19-31), by doing repeated acts of kindness for those around you (Matthew 7:12), by tithing a full portion (10%) of what you earn (Malachi 3:7-12). Let all you are, all you have, and everything that comes to you flow as a river through you. The Importance of Keeping Both Doors Open If you keep only the Door of Faith open, you will become proud. You will think that God likes you more than others and you will become jealous of the blessings that others have. If you keep only the Door of Charity open, you will become proud too, but in a different way. You will think that what you give to others is yours. You will become critical of others who don’t do what you do. In time, you will grow tired and “burn out”. This will leave you bitter and resentful. If you don’t open either of the doors of your heart, you will die. You will feel painfully, desperately alone and may readily turn to any narcotic substance or act to make the pain go away. Spiritual power — the power for personal healing and transformation as well as the power to change the world — lies in keeping both of the doors of your heart open. “I tell you all this that in me you may find peace…My peace is my gift to you.” John 16:33; 14:27

Repentance

Fr. James Chelich

Repentance is an act by which you take on a whole new attitude toward the sinful habits and addictions that cling to your life. Repentance means you ACKNOWLEDGE CLEARLY that God is right about you and sin in your life: your sinful habits and addictions control you; they can, and often do, easily pull your life apart. Repentance means you DECLARE EMPHATICALLY, without any reservation or exception: “The sin in my life has to go — all of it!” Repentance means you HUMBLY ADMIT that you are powerless to free yourself from your sinful addictions, that you need God’s help and that you are ready and willing to reach out and take firm hold of it. Repentance means that you GET DOWN ON YOUR KNEES and transfer control of your life to God.

You must lay aside your former way of life and the Old Self which deteriorates through illusion and desire, and acquire a fresh, spiritual way of thinking. You must put on that New Man created in God’s image, Whose justice and holiness are born of the truth. Ephesians 4:22-24

Repentance is the ‘attitude of heart’ in which God’s grace ‘works’ to defeat the Old Self within you. When your heart is set in the attitude of repentance, God’s grace can take hold of your sinful habits and work powerful changes within you. Let’s take a look at how the attitude of repentance actually works with God’s grace in defeating the Old Self.

“You must deny your very self, take up your cross each day and follow in my steps” Luke 9:23 “…follow in my steps…”

To “follow in the steps” of Jesus means a commitment and effort to form your entire life in the pattern of Jesus’ life: your attitude, the way you speak and the way you act. To do this you will need to speak to the Lord daily in prayer, read the Scriptures, strengthen yourself with the Sacraments, exercise yourself in charity, and practice justice and peace. As you do these things each day, you will begin to notice more and more clearly the parts of your ‘Old Self’ that cling to you. These are the sinful habits and addictions that want to control and pull your life apart: bitterness, lust, lewd conduct, quick temper, harsh words, insults, foul language, violence, slander, lying, stealing, drunkenness, etc. (Ref. Eph 4:25-31 and Col 3:5-10) Each time one of these rises within you, you must ‘deny it’ and ‘take it to the Cross’.

“…deny your very self…”

To ‘deny’ a part of your Old Self does not mean to pretend that it does not exist in you. It means to face the sinful habit and decide that you will no longer let it go on living in you. This is done in prayer patterned on the attitude of repentance: Lord, I acknowledge clearly that you are right about the sin in my life. It has control of me and wants to destroy my life. I declare, without any reservation: I want this sin to go — all of it! I humbly admit that I am powerless to defeat it. I reach out to You for help. I need your Divine Love to defeat the forces of sin and death in my life. Lord, I transfer control of my life to You. I open my heart to Your love and the power of Your grace.

“…take up your cross each day…”

Jesus carried his cross to Calvary. This is exactly where you are to carry your sinful habits and addictions. On his cross, Jesus broke the power of sin over your life. To ‘take up your cross each day’ means to take your sinful habits and addictions to the Cross of Jesus, as often as they rise in you and as soon as they show themselves. You do this by immediately turning to the Lord in prayer. Ask Jesus to let you stand at the foot of his Cross. With your whole heart reach out and claim the power of his saving death to overcome this temptation and to put this sinful habit or addiction to death: Jesus, this old part of myself rises to take control of me again. I stand beneath your cross and I claim the power you won for me by your death and resurrection. Your death, “was death to sin, once for all”; I claim the power of your redeeming Love to defeat this temptation and to put this sinful addiction to death. I nail it to the wood of your Cross. Let it die in the blood you shed out of love for me.

Receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation Declare your sins to one another, and pray for one another, That you may find healing. James 5:16

Taking your sins to the cross of Jesus is exactly what confession and the Sacrament of Reconciliation is all about. In the Sacrament the Holy Spirit brings you before Jesus crucified. Here the Church stands with you and joins you in claiming the grace to put your sinful habits and addictions to death within you. The blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin…

If we acknowledge our sins, he who is just can be trusted to forgive our sins and cleanse us from every wrong. 1 John 1:7,9

The death of Jesus on the Cross was the death of every sin that you bring to his Cross:

This we know: our old self was crucified with him so that the sinful (sin addicted) body might be destroyed and we might be slaves to sin no longer. Romans 6:6

The resurrection of Jesus from the dead was resurrection and new life for all who die to the Old Self in Him:

You can depend on this: if we have died with him, we shall live with him.” 2 Timothy 2:11

The Victory is Yours if You Persevere!

Let us lay aside every encumbrance of sin which clings to us and persevere in running the race which lies ahead; let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus who inspires and perfects our faith… Do not grow despondent or abandon the struggle. Hebrews 12:1-3 Thanks be to God who has given us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ! 1 Corinthians 15:57,

Pentecost Novena to the Holy Spirit

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Go To Novena Opening Prayer

“The important thing is to pray to the Holy Spirit so that He may descend on you. When one has Him, one has everything.” “Begin by calling on the Holy Spirit each day. The most important thing is to pray to the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit descends on earth, then everything becomes clear and everything is transformed.”

The Story

“In the time after his suffering, Jesus showed the disciples in many convincing ways that he was alive, appearing to them over the course of forty days and speaking to them about the reign of God.

On one occasion when he met with them, he told them not to leave Jerusalem: ‘Wait rather for the fulfillment of my Father’s promise, of which you have heard me speak. John baptized with water, but within a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit…

‘You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes down on you; then you are to be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, yes, even to the ends of the earth.’ No sooner had he said this then he was lifted up before their eyes in a cloud which took him from their sight…

They returned to Jerusalem… Entering the city, they went to the upstairs room where they were staying: Peter and John and James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James, son of Alphaeus; Simon, the Zealot party member, and Judas, son of James. Together they devoted themselves to constant prayer. There were some women in their company, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.”

Acts 1:3-4,8-9,12-14

Novena Opening Prayer:

In + the Name of the Father, And of the Son, And of the Holy Spirit. Amen Come, Holy Spirit, Fill the hearts of your faithful And enkindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit, O Lord, And we shall be created, And you shall renew the face of the earth.

Psalm 104:30

The Gospel Promise of Jesus: “I will ask the Father and He will give you another Paraclete — to be with you always: the Spirit of truth whom the world cannot accept, since it neither sees Him or recognizes Him, but you can recognize Him because He remains with you and will be within you.”

John 14:16-17

The Litany:

For the Gift of Wisdom:
That we might take our place as peacemakers in the kingdom of God. Lord, in your mercy / Hear our prayer.

For the Gift of Understanding:
That we might know the will of God in the events of our life and time. Lord, in your mercy / Hear our prayer.

For the Gift of Counsel:
That we might put the will of God into practice in our decisions and our actions. Lord, in your mercy / Hear our prayer.

For the Gift of Fortitude:
That we might show courage in living lives of integrity, advancing the cause of justice, and laying the foundations of peace. Lord, in your mercy / Hear our prayer.

For the Gift of Knowledge:
That we might know the pain and suffering of all oppressed and suffering peoples. Lord, in your mercy / Hear our prayer.

For the Gift of Piety:
That we might find ways to reach out in love to the pain and need around us. Lord, in your mercy / Hear our prayer.

For the Gift of Love of the Lord:
That God might disarm our hearts and that the love of God that comes to us in Jesus, Our Lord, might be born within us. Lord, in your mercy / Hear our prayer.

Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5 Day 6 Day 7 Day 8 Day 9

Day 1: Friday
“Come, Spirit of Wisdom”

“Are you not aware that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells within you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, he will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, and you are that temple.”

1 Corinthians 3:16-17

“You must know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is within you — the Spirit you have received from God. You are not your own. You have been purchased, and at a price. So glorify God in your body.”

1 Corinthians 6:19-20

“The Spirit God has given us is no cowardly spirit, but one that makes us strong, loving and wise.”

2 Timothy 1:7

Father,
grant us a spirit of wisdom and insight to know you clearly. May your Holy Spirit enlighten our innermost vision that we may know the great hope to which you have called us, the wealth of gifts you have distributed among the members of the Church, and the immeasurable scope of your power in us who believe. Amen.

Ephesians 1:17-19

Go to Closing Prayer

Day 2: Saturday
“Come, Spirit of Understanding”

“’How can a man be born again once he is old?’ retorted Nicodemus. ‘Can he return to his mother’s womb and be born over again?’
Jesus replied: ‘I solemnly assure you, no one can enter into God’s kingdom without being begotten of water and Spirit. Flesh begets flesh, Sprit begets spirit. Do not be surprised that I tell you, you must all be begotten from above.’”

John 3:4-7

“We ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, and far from true faith; we were the slaves of our passions and of pleasures of various kinds. We went our way in malice and envy, hateful ourselves and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us; not because of any righteous deeds we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the baptism of new birth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. This Spirit he lavished on us through Jesus Christ our Savior, that we might be justified by his grace and become heirs, in hope of eternal life.”

Titus 3:3-7

Father in heaven,
may your Holy Spirit open my mind to discern your purpose and understand your ways. Come, Holy Spirit, fill my heart and bring to birth in me a “new person” formed in the image of my Creator. Amen.

Colossians 3:10

Go to Closing Prayer

Day 3: Sunday
“Come, Spirit of Counsel”

“I will put my Spirit within you and make you live by my statutes, careful to observe my decrees.”

Ezekiel 36:27

“It is obvious what proceeds from the flesh: lewd conduct, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hostilities, bickering, jealousy, outbursts of rage, selfish rivalries, dissentions, factions, envy, drunkenness, orgies and the like. I warn you, as I have warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the Kingdom of God! In contrast, the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patient endurance, kindness, generosity, faith, mildness and chastity.”

Galatians, 5:19-23

Father of Light,
grant me your Holy Spirit to counsel my choices, for not by bread alone am I to live but by every word that comes from the mouth of my God. Come, Holy Spirit, reveal to me your holy and life-giving will in each moment and every situation I face. Amen.

Go to Closing Prayer

Day 4: Monday
“Come, Spirit of Fortitude”

“In all that we do we strive to present ourselves as ministers of God, acting with patient endurance amid trials, difficulties, distresses, beatings, imprisonments, and riots; as men and women familiar with hard work, sleepless nights and fasting; conducting ourselves with innocence, knowledge and patience in the Holy Spirit, in sincere love as men and women with the message of truth and the power of God.”

2 Corinthians 6:4-7

“May God strengthen you inwardly through the working of his Spirit. May Christ dwell in your hearts through faith, and may charity be the root and foundation of your life.”

Ephesians 3:16-17

A clean heart create for me, O God,
and a steadfast spirit renew within me.
Cast me not out from your presence,
and your Holy Spirit take not from me.
Give me back the joy of your salvation,
and a willing spirit sustain in me. Amen.

Psalm 51:12-14

Go to Closing Prayer

Day 5: Tuesday
“Come, Spirit of Knowledge”

“This much I have told you while I was still with you; the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name will instruct you in everything, and remind you of all that I told you.”

John 14:25-26

“When the Paraclete comes, the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father — and whom I myself will send from the Father — he will bear witness on my behalf.”

John 15:26

“Being the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth.”

John 16:13

“Guard the rich deposit of faith with the help of the Holy Spirit who dwells within us.”

2 Timothy 1:14

Father All-knowing,
your Holy Spirit searches all things (1 Cor. 1:10).
May your Holy Spirit teach me the truth about you and
help me face the truth about myself.
Come, Holy Spirit,
bring the teachings and practices of my Catholic Faith
alive with insight and meaning. Amen.

Go to Closing Prayer

Day 6: Wednesday
“Come, Spirit of Piety”

“All who are led by the Spirit of God are sons and daughters of God. You did not receive a spirit of slavery leading you back into fear, but a spirit of adoption through which we cry out ‘Abba!’ (that is, ‘Father’).”

Romans 8:14-15

“The Spirit too helps us in our weakness, for we do not know how to pray as we ought; but the Spirit himself makes intercession for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in speech. He who searches hearts knows what the Spirit means, for the Spirit intercedes for the saints as God himself wills.”

Romans 8:26-27

Come, Holy Spirit, I need you.
Come, Holy Spirit, I pray.
Come with your strength and your power,
Come in your own gentle way.

All-powerful Spirit, enter into my prayer and my every act of worship.
Give voice to my innermost thoughts and longings,
and to my deeply hidden fears.
Lift my heart up to the Father in prayer
and make the words of the Scriptures come alive to my ear. Amen.

Go to Closing Prayer

Day 7: Thursday
“Come, Spirit of Love of the Lord”

“Hope will not leave us disappointed, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

Romans 5:5

“You are strangers and aliens no longer. No, you are fellow citizens of the saints and members of the household of God. You form a building which rises on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Jesus himself as the capstone. Through him the whole structure takes shape as a holy temple in the Lord; in him you are being built into this temple, to become a dwelling place for God in the Spirit.”

Ephesians 2:19-22

Father All-Holy,
send forth your Spirit of Holiness to ignite within me a longing love for you. You alone are God. You alone are Lord of my life.
I love you with all my heart, with all my soul,
with all my mind, and with all my strength.
Come, Holy Spirit, help me to live in your presence with an undivided heart and to always approach you with an attentive spirit. Amen.

Go to Closing Prayer

Day 8: Friday
“Come, Lord and Giver of Life”

“If Christ is in you the body is dead because of sin, while the spirit lives because of justice. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, then He who raised Jesus from the dead will bring your mortal bodies to life also, through his Spirit dwelling in you. We are debtors, then, my sisters and brothers — but not to the flesh, so that we should live according to the flesh. If you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the evil deeds of the body, you will live.”

Romans 8:10-13

Father of Mercy,
you are right about the hold that my sinful attitudes, words and actions have on my life. I renounce them all! I want them all to go. But I cannot free myself. I claim the freedom Jesus won and paid for with the price of his blood. Come, Holy Spirit, and fight on my behalf against the bondage and forces of sin in my life. The victory is mine so long as I am in communion with you. Amen.

Go to Closing Prayer

Day 9: Saturday
“Come, Father of the Poor”

“To each person a manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one the Spirit gives wisdom and discourse, to another the power to express knowledge. Through the Spirit one receives faith; by the same Spirit another is given the gift of healing, and still another miraculous powers. Prophecy is given to one; to another the power to distinguish one spirit from another. One receives the gift of tongues, another that of interpreting the tongues. But it is one and the same Spirit who produces all these gifts, distributing them each as he wills.”

1 Corinthians 12:7-11

“The Spirit we have received is not the world’s spirit but God’s Spirit, helping us to recognize the gifts he has given us.”

1 Corinthians 1:12

Divine Giver of Gifts,
everything I am and everything I possess
is your gracious gift to me.
Give me a new heart and place a new spirit within me.
Move me to compassion for all those around me.
Enable me to feel their pain, to know their struggle,
and to rejoice in their hopes.
Grant me a servant’s heart by which I can place the gifts I have received
at the service of others. Amen.

Closing Prayer:

“All of us, gazing on the Lord’s glory with unveiled faces, are being transformed from glory to glory into his very image, by the Lord who is the Spirit.”

2 Corinthians 3:18

Come, Holy Spirit, fill my heart with your holy gifts.
Let my weakness be penetrated by your strength,
that I may fulfill the duties of my state in life conscientiously; that I may do what is right and just.

Assist me, O Holy Spirit, in all my trials of life:

enlighten my ignorance
advise me in my doubts
strengthen me in my weakness
help me in all my needs
protect me in temptation
and console me in affliction.

Graciously hear me, O Holy Spirit, and pour your light into my heart, my soul and my mind. Assist me in living a holy life and in growing in goodness and grace. Amen.

An hour is coming, and is already here, when authentic worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth. Indeed, it is just such worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in Spirit and truth.”

John 4:23-24

Entrustment to Saint Mary

By Father James Chelich

3hands3The Entrustment of Ourselves and Our Community to Mary, the Mother of God Near the Cross of Jesus there stood his mother… Seeing his mother there with the disciple whom he loved, Jesus said to his mother, “Woman, there is your son.” In turn he said to the disciple, “there is your mother.” John 19:25-27 From his cross, Jesus entrusted Mary, his mother, to the beloved disciple. From the very beginning, our Catholic Faith has understood the beloved disciple to be not only Saint John, but the Church and each of us who are members of it. Jesus entrusted Mary to us as our Mother in the Faith. “Mary Said: I am the servant of the Lord. Let it be done unto me according to Thy Word. Luke 1:38 These words of Mary are rightfully the words of every disciple of Jesus. When they flow from the heart, they establish and create the bond of faith that links our life with God. Every Christian is called upon to entrust themselves to God in the pattern of these words and in the example of this woman. On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there… At a certain point the wine ran out and Jesus’ mother told him, “They have no more wine.” John 2:3 These words of Mary are her continuing prayer of intercession throughout time for any of Jesus’ disciples who “run out of wine” — the wine of commitment in relationship, the wine of faith in God, the wine of enthusiasm for the work God has given us to do. Heavenly Father, We entrust ourselves to the care and loving consideration of Mary, our Mother in the Faith. She inspires us to give ourselves totally to You, to Your Word and to Your Will. We entrust ourselves and our Community of Faith to Mary’s words of prayerful intercession before her son, Jesus: “They have no more wine.” Renew the wine of commitment in love, faith in God and enthusiasm in ministry in the heart of each member of Saint Thomas Parish.

HOLY LENT: Re-Arranging the Priority of Our Affections

ashThe first task of Lent is to re-arrange the priority of our affections. Far from an exercise in religious sentiment, this task is a bold one. It requires rigorous honesty and perhaps an uncomfortable confrontation with yourself. To do it you need to sit down and make a list of the people and things you love. Write them out on paper. Make it as complete as possible by asking questions of yourself such as: To what or to whom am I most devoted? To what or to whom do I find myself giving the best portions of my time, my attention and my energy? Now rank the items on your list in order of priority, not as they somehow “should” be, but as they actually are. Be thoroughly honest about the ranking. Now insert Jesus into your list (if He is not already listed). Don’t be embarrassed if you forgot Him. Embarrassment is not our objective. Do not piously place Jesus at the top of your list if, in all honesty, He does not really fall there. It is very important to this exercise that you place Jesus in the rank of priority of your affections where He actually lies. Now look at the names of the people and the things that you have on your list above Jesus. Say to yourself: “I love these more than Christ.” It may be hard in the saying, but say it none-the-less. The saying of it makes it “objective” and brings you to a confrontation with yourself. Now ask yourself: “How blind have I become in my affection for these people, activities or things?” “How deaf have I become?” How mute have I become?” “In the name of ‘love,’ how much of their character or behavior do I simply not let myself see?” “How much, in the name of ‘love,’ do I simply not let myself hear.” “How many times, out of fear of alienating their affection, have I remained mute and not said what needed to be said, not challenged when a challenge was called for?” Press your self-reflection further. Ask yourself: “At what point, in the name of ‘love’, do I no longer see anything of what they really are, or hear anything that they really say, or have anything at all really to say to them?” “At what point in all this does ‘love’ become nothing more than an emotional co-dependency?” These questions should give you good reason and urgent motivation to return to you list, pull Jesus out from somewhere in the middle of the pack of your affections and place Him at the top of the list — not just on paper, but in your heart. Jesus Christ is a light unto loving and a light unto living. He said: “I am the Light of the World. No follower of mine shall ever walk in darkness; no, he shall possess the light of life.” (Jn 8:12) In His light, you get your eyes, your ears and your voice back. In His light, you see what you are supposed to see and hear what you are supposed to hear. In His light, you find your voice again. In Him, you find not only the light but the courage to speak when you are supposed to speak, challenge when a challenge is called for, forgive when it is time to forgive, and support in ways that are genuinely up lifting. From Jesus you learn the compatibility of truth and com-passion. He will teach you to be both persevering and faithful in love. Jesus is a light unto real love. The light He sheds in His teaching and his life makes the real thing possible: a love that gives life, a love that forms character, a love that has a future. So Jesus is now written in at the top of your list, but have you really restored Him to first place in your affections? How can you tell? Let me ask you one last question: Can you say the following to each person, activity or thing on your list of affections (be it spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend, children, parent, friend, job, career, profession, employer, hobby, etc.)? I love you… But I must tell you: I love Jesus Christ more than I love you. Because unless I love Jesus more, I will love you less and less each day. If you can say this to every object of your affection, then truly Jesus is in the first priority of your affections — truly you have your feet on the solid ground of reality, truly you “love” them, and truly you are moving along the path to life (Lk 10:41-42).

“If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:11

The Mystery of Faith

“I wish to know Christ and the power flowing from his resurrection; likewise to know how to share in His sufferings by being formed into the pattern of his death. Thus do I hope to arrive at resurrection from the dead.” Philippians 3:10-11 Human beings have always been fascinated by the Mystery of Life and the Mystery of God. We want to live, as fully and richly as possible! We intuitively sense that there is a God, and that somehow in God there lies a missing piece to ourselves. We want to get connected. We have long suspected that somehow the Mystery of Life and the Mystery of God are vitally connected to one another. How are they connected? What is the secret to opening these two mysteries? The search to engage the Mystery of Life and the Mystery of God express man and woman’s desire for fulfillment — their search for their identity and their destiny. Mysteries Before we go further, we need to say a word or two about the nature of mysteries. Mysteries are not things to be understood. To try to understand them only generates exasperation and always ends in frustration. This is why we call them “mysteries”. Mysteries are movements: “dynamic” or power-generating movements. Mysteries yield their content not by being “grasped” with the human mind, but by being “entered into” with the whole of who we are. Because mysteries are movements, they are “entered into” by moving in a certain way. You “enter” into a mystery by teaching and disciplining yourself to move in a certain pattern. The entrance to a mystery is a particular Pattern of Movement. I What Nature Reveals of the Mystery of Life Everything in the natural world can teach us something of the Mystery of Life. If we pay careful attention, Nature itself shows us what lies at the heart of the Mystery of Life. Of all the things that make up the natural world, the Cycle of Seasons “speaks” most disclosively of the Mystery of Life: Autumn “speaks” of Dying, as the living earth surrenders what it is. Winter “speaks” of Listening, as the living earth lies dormant — receptive to new possibilities. Spring/Summer “speaks” of Responding, as the living earth responds to the energies alive within and around it. Together the natural Cycle of the Seasons set forth a pattern: Dying – Listening – Responding This pattern lies at the heart of the Mystery of Life. II What God Reveals of the Mystery of Life The Sacred Scriptures teach us about the Mystery of Life and about the Mystery of God. In all the Sacred Scriptures there can be found none more revealing a “word” about Life and God than that of the Christ, Himself. He is the living and divine Word of God: “In the beginning was the Word; the Word was in God’s presence, and the Word was God. He was present to God in the beginning. Through Him all things came into being, and apart from Him nothing came to be.” John 1:1-3 He became human… “And the Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.” John 1:4 …for the life of the world: “I came that they may have life and have it to the full.” John 10:10b Nothing in the Sacred Scriptures “speaks” more eloquently of both the Mystery of Life and the Mystery of God than Jesus, the Christ. Jesus teaches us that Dying is at the heart of the Mystery of Life: “From then on Jesus (the Messiah) started to indicate to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly there at the hands of the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be put to death, and raised up on the third day. At this Peter took Him aside and began to remonstrate with Him. ‘May you be spared, Master! God forbid that any such thing ever happen to you!’ Jesus turned on Peter and said, ‘Get out of my sight, you satan! You are trying to make me trip and fall. You are not judging by God’s standards, but by man’s.'” Matthew 16:21-23 “Whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” Matthew 16:25 Jesus also teaches us that Listening is at the heart of the Mystery of Life: “Not by bread alone is man to live but on every utterance that comes from the mouth of God.” Matthew 4:4 “Sluggish indeed is this people’s heart. They have scarcely heard with their ears, they have firmly closed their eyes; otherwise they might see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and under- stand with their hearts, and turn back to me, and I should heal them.” Matthew 13:15 “…the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who have heeded it shall live. John 5:25 Finally, Jesus teaches that Responding is at the heart of the Mystery of Life: “Having spoken this parable, He added: ‘Let him who has ears to hear me, hear… those thrown on good soil are the ones who listen to the word, take it to heart, and yield at thirty- sixty- and a hundredfold.’” Mark 4:9,2 “My mother and my brothers and sisters are those who hear the word of God and act upon it.” Luke 8:21 In his teaching, Jesus sets forth the same pattern we saw before: Dying – Listening – Responding Now consider the events in Jesus’ life. None “speaks” more profoundly of the Mystery of God than His crucifixion: “And I — once I am lifted up from the earth — will draw all people to myself.” John 12:32 “…no one comes to the Father but through me.” John 14:6b How does Jesus “draw all people to Himself” and “to the Father”? We learn how this is done from the Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection. The Church celebrates these events and their meaning in Holy Week, the high point of the entire Liturgical Year. Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday “speak” of what God is all about and how one is drawn to Him. Holy Thursday and Good Friday “speak” of Dying. The dramatic events that describe Jesus’ dying teach us about a voluntarily laying down of our life in the hope of taking it up again. Good Friday and Holy Saturday “speak” of Listening. The events of Jesus ‘entombment teach us to anticipate the unexpected grace and a gift of new life. Holy Saturday Night and Easter Morning “speak” of Responding. The dramatic events that describe Jesus resurrection from the dead and appearance to His apostles teach us to lay firm, joyful hold of the grace and new life God offers. Here, at the heart of the Mystery of God as we see it revealed in Jesus, we again find the same pattern we saw before. The teaching of Christ and the events of His death, burial and resurrection set forth the same clear pattern we found set forth in Nature: Dying – Listening – Responding These three elements joined together form a movement of heart. They describe an attitude: a pattern of movement to take place in the human heart: “Your attitude must be that of Christ: Though he was in the form of God,he did not deem equality with God something to be grasped at. Rather, he emptied himself and took the form of a slave, being born in the likeness of men. He was known to be of human estate, and it was thus that he humbled himself,obediently accepting death, death on a cross! Because of this God highly exalted him and bestowed on him a name above every other name, So that at Jesus’ name every knee must bend in the heavens, on the earth, and under the earth, and every tongue proclaim to the glory of God the Father: Jesus Christ is Lord!” Philippians 2:5-11 Dying means dying to self, Listening means listening for the voice of God and looking for His grace in each moment and situation, Responding means responding to God’s will by laying hold of His grace in each moment and every situation we find ourselves. Dying – Listening – Responding describes the personal attitude we must have toward everyone and everything around us if we want to engage life fully. It is this personal attitude toward everyone and everything around us that will yield from them the reality of who they are and the fullness of all they have to offer. One enters fully into life by Dying, Listening and Responding. Dying – Listening – Responding also describes the personal attitude in which we must stand if we want to encounter God. It is an attitude that permits God to draw us to Himself, an attitude that enables us to enter communion with Him and to receive from Him gifts of wisdom, joy, strength and power. One is drawn to God by Dying, Listening and Responding. Dying – Listening – Responding describe the personal attitude that draws us not only into the Mystery of Life but into the Mystery of God as well: “I wish to know Christ and the power flowing from his resurrection; likewise to know how to share in His sufferings by being formed into the pattern of his death. Thus do I hope to arrive at resurrection from the dead.” Philippians 3:10-11 “If you really knew me, you would know my Father also.” John 14:7a “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; John 14:6a “I came that they might have life and have it to the full.” John 10:10b III About the Pattern Let’s take a closer look at the pieces of this Pattern of Movement that is so essential for engaging Life and encountering God. about Dying… Dying is the first piece to the Pattern, the first step to the Movement. “Dying” to what? Dying to what we are in order to be receptive to what we can become. Dying to what we think something is in order to be receptive to what something really is. Dying to our ideas about the way things are in order to be receptive to the way things could be. Dying to what our relationship has been in order to be receptive to what our relationship can become. Dying to conclusions in order to be receptive to possibilities. Dying to the structure built in order to be receptive to the movement taking place. Dying to what you were for me yesterday in order to be present to what you want to be for me today. Dying to the past in order to be born again in the present. Dying to a “self” of our own construction in order to be resurrected to a “self” of God’s new creation. We are forever dragging the past into the present, and by doing so, closing down all the vital possibilities of the present. We all have a personal history. We should carry the lessons of this history with us. But this is something far different than dragging the past into the present. The difference has to do with the baggage of expectations and conclusions. Expectations are “baggage” drawn from the past that narrow possibilities in the present. Conclusions are “baggage” drawn from the past that shut down and close out possibilities in the present. The reason that our expectations and conclusions are so dangerous to us is that our future is conceived in the possibilities of the present. The Mystery of Life is the dynamic movement of possibilities in the present, and God is the inexhaustible origin and dynamic source of these possibilities. We ought to have some sturdy expectations of ourselves but few expectations of others, our relationships or the things around us. We ought never to draw conclusions about either ourselves, others, our relationships or the things around us. The decision to die continually to what was yesterday, is the choice to be reborn, re-formed, and resurrected eternally in the possibilities of today. We do not die just to be dead. That would truly leave us at a “dead end”. The “dying” we are talking about is for something. It is for life. But God is the Author of Life, God is the inexhaustible origin and dynamic source of all life’s possibilities. Ultimately, our “dying” is for God. This “dying” only works if it is oriented to God — if it is for God. We die to our conclusions to live for God’s possibilities. “I solemnly assure you, unless the grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat. But if it dies, it produces much fruit.” John 12:24 about Listening… The “dying” we have been speaking about is for a purpose. It is to create an emptiness that will permit receptivity. It is to create a silence that will permit attention. It is to create a poverty that will permit enrichment. It goes almost without saying, no one ever listens so well as the dead. We are never so open to possibility as when all assumption has been slain. When all preconceived ideas and self-drawn conclusions lie dead, then can the voice of God be heard — and it is to hearing the voice of God that our Mystical Dying, and for that matter, all dying is oriented: “…the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who have heeded it shall live. John 5:25 Only the mind of God can conceive the inconceivable. Only the imagination of God that can image the unimaginable. Only the voice of God speaks to us of inconceivable, unimaginable new possibilities. God and God alone inspires them in us and opens them up for us. This is true Hope, this is real Future, this is eternal Life . “Not by bread alone is man and woman to live but on every utterance that comes from the mouth of God.” Matthew 4:4 The Mystery of Life is the coming to be of in-conceivable, unimaginable new possibilities; and God alone is the inexhaustible origin and dynamic source of them. You cannot “figure out” the Mystery of Life. It is a useless and futile effort to try to do so. Instead of figuring it out, we should be accepting the invitation to enter it. You cannot “engineer” an encounter with the Mysterious God, it is stupid and self-disintegrative to attempt it. Instead of engineering encounters, we should be placing ourselves in a position to allow ourselves to be drawn to Him. The Art of Dying, the Art of Listening and the Art of Responding are the Arts of Life eternal. They are also the arts of the knowledge of God. about Responding… In the end, we must have within us the will to respond to God. We must grab hold of the new possibilities He shows us and be willing to make use of the grace of who we are and what He provides us: “Since we live by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s lead.” Galatians 5:25 We must be ambitious in our dying for God, ambitious in our listening to God, and ambitious in responding to all God offers: “You shall love the Lord your God with your whole heart, with your whole soul, and with all your mind.” Matthew 22:37 about the Pattern… What does the Pattern, as a whole, actually call for? It calls for a Movement of Heart toward the people and things around us. It calls for us to stand before the people in our life and the elements of our world in a sacred way: Dead… to our expectations of them, to our conclusions about them; Listening… for new possibilities about them and with them; Prepared to Respond… to the new things we see in them. This Pattern of Movement is the “Entrance Point” into Mystery. It is the attitude in which to stand in order to fully engage the Mystery of Life. It is the attitude in which to stand in order to be drawn by the Holy Spirit into the Mystery of God. This Pattern is the point of engagement for the Mystery of Life and the point of ascension into the Mystery of God. Here is a Pattern of Movement that opens us to infinite possibility, that gives us accesses us to a horizonless future, that inexhaustibly generates new life, that makes available to us all of Life’s richness, and that places us in a disposition to be embraced by the Author of Life and drawn by that embrace into a Mystery which no mortal could image or conceive of entering: Communion with God! “Anyone who loves me will be true to my word, and my Father will love them; We will come to them and make our dwelling place with them” John 14:23 IV Making the Pattern… Pattern making is a Movement of the Heart. The first piece, the Dying, takes place by retreating within. It is forged in prayer. It is not meant to be done alone, but in the company of Jesus, the Christ. He died first so that he might teach us the Art of Dying — of surrendering all that we are, all that we expect, and all that we imagine into the hands of Him who can fashion for us more than we could ever hope either to become or receive: “Those whom (God) foreknew, He predestined to share in the image of His Son, that the Son might be the first-born of many sisters and brothers.” Romans 8:29 “It is he (the Christ) who is…the beginning, the first-born of the dead.” Colossians 1:18 “To (God) whose power now at work in us can do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine — to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations, world without end. Amen” Ephesians 3:20-21 In the “Prayer of Dying” we bring our expectations and our conclusions about ourselves and others to the little Garden of Getsemani that lies within each of us. There we pray with Jesus: Abba (O Father), Let me die to myself in loving You. “You have the power to do all things… Let all be as you would have it, not as I.” [Mark 14:36] In this Prayer of Dying we let go of all that chains us to the past, that limits the possibilities of the present and that foreshortens the horizon of our future. The second piece, the Listening, takes place back in the activity of the world — moment by moment as we interact with the people and things around us. It too is forged in prayer. In every moment and each new situation you find yourself , pray the “Prayer of Listening”: Abba (O Father), Help me find more in this moment than I have come to expect; Help me see more in myself and in the people around me than I have concluded is there; Help me to listen for possibilities beyond what I know and what I think and what I am comfortable with. Help me to anticipate your unexpected grace; “My sacrifice to you, O God, is a contrite spirit; a heart contrite and humbled…” [Psalm 51:19] The third piece, Responding, takes place the moment we catch a glimpse of the unexpected grace in ourselves, in another or in the situation. Take firm hold of it! Responding begins when we take joy in what God has surprisingly brought to light in ourselves, in another or in the situation we find ourselves. It continues when we give thanks for it. It expands when we explore the new possibilities. It reaches fulfillment when we join our efforts to nurturing and supporting this new Grace to which God has given birth in ourselves, in another or in the world around us. “The one who sat on the throne said to me, ‘See, I make all things new!'” Revelation 21:5 “Everything is possible to a person who trusts.” Mark 9:23

The Life of Grace

By Father James Chelich

What Do We Believe? We say that we believe in God. But for most of us, most of the time, this remains an idea somewhere in our head. We say that we believe that God became “flesh” in Jesus — that He joined Himself to what we are: human beings in bondage to the addictive power of Sin, so that we might be able to become what He is: whole, holy and free (Ref. 2 Cor 5:21). But again, for most of us, most of the time, this remains just a concept in our mind. We also say that we believe that Jesus died for our sins and those of the whole world, that by his death and resurrection he broke the addictive power of Sin over our lives, and that He offers us forgiveness and the possibility of a new life. This is a compelling thought. It moves us to reflection and inspires great sermons and books. But even here, for most of us, most of the time, it remains a thought enshrined in our heads. Is there any way of expressing what we believe that knocks at the door of our heart rather than rattles around in our head? A way that urges our heart to open itself to what we say we believe? Saint John, the disciple who stood at the foot of Jesus’ cross with Mary, his mother, found a way. In his first letter he writes: “We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us.” 1 John 4:16a Just one little verse? And at first glance not a very remarkable one at that! But hold on. Give this little verse some careful attention. Change it to the first person and begin to say it slowly — repeating it over and over again: “I have come to know and to believe in the love God has for me.” Stand in front of a mirror, and as you look at your reflection, continue to slowly repeat the words. Emphasize the words “love” and “me”: “I have come to know and to believe in the love God has for me.” It is hard to keep saying these words without some kind of response forming in your heart. You can feel your heart either resisting the words or wanting to open to them, either growing hard or becoming warm. Why? Why would your heart resist these words, and what can we learn from the resistance we feel? How often have you been told that you are not good enough to be loved? How may times and in how many ways have you been told that you are not beautiful enough, that you are not capable neough, that you are not intelligent enough? This message has been hammered into us since we were a small child. We have hear it said so many ways and felt its sting so many times that it has disqualified our hearts for love. We have even been lead to believe that we must earn God’s love and that in His eyes we will never be “good enough”. This is totally false. God loves you — unconditionally! And the only thing God asks is that you open your heart to His love for you — that you let it in. This does not mean that God accepts everything that you do. You do not even like everything that you do. There are a lot of sad and destructive things that you would stop doing if you could. God accepts and loves you — as you are. You are good enough, beautiful enough, intelligent enough and capable enough for God to love you and to love through you. The beginning ot true religion is to accept this and to open your heart to it. We don’t change in order to earn God’s love. The acceptance and experience of God’s love “works” its own change in us. This is the truth and mystery that we will examine in this boolklet. Saint John’s little verse becomes a key that can open our heart to the things that we say we believe: “I have come to know and to believe in the love God has for me…” …in the love that became flesh for me in Jesus, …in the love that was poured out for me on His cross, …in the love that radiates toward me from His open heart, …in the love that I feel stirred into flame in my own heart when I read on the Word and receive the Eucharist, …in the love that remains with me always: in all things, through all things, to the end of all things. Chapter I Grace: “The Love God has for us” “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, Glory as of the only Son coming from the Father. And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” John 1:14,16-17 (Revised Standared Version) In the New American Bible, this same passage reads: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we have seen his glory: The glory of an only Son coming from the Father filled with enduring love… Of his fullness we have all had a share — love following upon love. For while the law was given through Moses, this enduring love came through Jesus Christ.” Grace is God’s Love. It is the personal and uniquely powerful love that God has for each of us, a love that He freely and unconditionally offers everyone of us. Saint Paul writes in the Letter to the Ephesians: “But God is rich in mercy; because of his great love for us he brought us to life with Christ when wwe were dead in sin…This is not your own doing, it is God’s gift; neither is it a reward for anything you have accomplished…” Ephesians 2:4-5, 9 In the Letter to the Romans, he adds: “I am certain that neither death nor life, neither angels nor principlaities, neither the present nor the future, nor powers, neither height nor depth nor any other creature, will be able to seperate us from the love of God that comes to us in Christ Jesus, our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39 Grace is a Divine “Energy” Grace is Divine Love: the Divine Love shared by the Father, Son and Holy Spirit within the Blessed Trinity. It is the Divine Life they share together. It is the very power of God. The Grace that we experience as created beings is the radiation of this Life-giving Love from within the Blessed Trinity. It radiates from God outward into the whole created universe where it creates and sustains life, and works in and through all things for the good. Grace is experienced as a life-creating and life-sustaining Love/Energy flowing from God — a Divine Energy! The movement and work of Grace in our hearts and in the world is directed by the Holy Spirit. This is what we mean when we say that the Holy Spirit is: “…the Lord and giver of life…” The Creed at Mass Grace Comes to Us from a Heart Laid Open The great Old Testament prophet Ezekiel was given a vision. An angel showed Exekiel a new temple: “Then (the angel) brought me to the entrance of the temple, and I saw water flowing out from beneath the threshold… I saw water trickling from the southern side. Then when he had walked off to the east with a measuring cord in his hand, he measured off a thousand cubits and had me wade through the water the water which was ankle-deep. He measured off another thousand cubits and had me wade through the water which was now knee-deep. Again he measured off a thousand and had me wade; the water was up to my waist. Once more he measured off a thousand, but there was now a river through which I could not wade; for the water had risen so high it had become a river… He asked of me, ‘Have you see this, son of man?’ Then he brought me to the bank of the river, where he had me sit. Along the bank of the river I saw very many trees on both sides. He said to me… ‘Wherever the river flows, every sort of living creature that can multiply shall live… wherever this water comes the sea shall be made fresh… Along both banks of the river, fruit trees of every kind shall grow; their leaves shall not fade, nor their fruit fail. Every month they shall bear fresh fruit, for they shall be watered by the flow from the sanctuary. Their fruit shall serve for food, and their leaves for medicine.'” Ezekiel 47:1-12 Ezekiel saw a great river whose life-giving waters begin with a small trickle from the open doorway of a temple. One day Jesus was in the Temple in Jerusalem and he said to the crowds: “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” (John 2:19) Many of his listeners thought that he was referring to the ancient temple building. Saint John added a note of explanation: “Actually he (Jesus) was talking about the temple of his body.” (John 2:21) Saint John wants to make clear that Jesus, himself, is the real temple! The temple that Ezekiel saw in his vision is Jesus. But what of the trickle of water that Exekiel saw flowing flowing from the open doorway of the temple? Saint John, at the end of his Gospel, carefully describes what took place on Calvary just after Jesus died on the Cross: “When they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. One of the soldiers thrust a lance into his side, and immediately blood and water flowed out. This testimony has been given by an eyewitness, and his testimony is true. He tells what he knows is true, so that you may believe.” John 19:33-35 The water coming from the open heart of Jesus is of great importance to Saint John. What signifigance does it have for him? Earlier in his Gospel, Saint John records Jesus saying to his disciples: “If anyone thrists, let him come to me; let him drink who believes in me. Scripture has it: ‘From within him rivers of living water shall flow.'” John 7:37-38 Again, Saint John added his own note of explanation: “He (Jesus) was referring to the Spirit that those who come to believe in him were to receive.” John 7:39 The “living water” clearly refers to the Holy Spirit. But there is something more to this image of a flowing “river of living water”. Saint Paul grasps the whole meaning when he writes in his letter to the Romans: “…the love of God has been poured out in our heart through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Romans 5:5 “Living water” also refers to Grace, “the Love of God that comes to us in Christ Jesus, our Lord. Grace is what the Holy Spirit brings and “pours out in the hearts of those who believe?” And so Saint John wrote: “…while the law was given through Moses, this enduring love came through Jesus Christ.” John 1:17 Grace is the “water” that Ezekiel saw flowing from the Temple in his vision. This mighty river of Grace begins in the Heart of God. It flows from the open heart of Jesus, the “Temple” — God become human flesh and blood. From here it flows through the entire world making all things new and fresh, restoring life in every form, and producing from the trees that grow along its banks both the food and medicine that will nourish and heal the human world. As we will see, these “trees” in Exekiel’s vision are women and men who believe, those who open their hearts to “the love of God that comes to them in Christ Jesus, our Lord.” For the moment however, it is important to see that the Heart of God, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, is the source and beginning of Grace. “This is the Christ we proclaim while we admonish all women and men and teach them in the full measure of wisdom, hoping to make every man and woman complete in Christ. For this I work and struggle, impelled by that energy of his (Christ’s) which is so powerful a force within me. Colossians 1:28-29 Grace Transforms or Changes Things by its Flow Above we described Grace as Divine Energy. Ezekiel saw this Love/Energy flowing from the Temple of God (Jesus) as a mighty river bringing life and healing everywhere it flowed. There is something important about Grace to be learned here: Grace “works” by its flow. Electricity is an example of how energy changes or “works” things by its flow. Electricity lights light bulbs, heats heaters and runs motors by flowing through them creating light, heat and motion. Grace moves and transforms everything in the universe by freely flowing into them, through them and around them. Grace “Works” Through Hearts Laid Open The one thing, however, that Grace cannot freely flow through is the human heart. While Grace surrounds us at all times and sustains our being and life, it is not free to flow through us. God created our hearts inviolable. This means that the human heart has doors that can either be opened or remain closed to everyone and everything around us. They cannot be forced open, even by God. God created each of us with the dignity of freedom: the ability to say “Yes” or “No’. We can choose to say “Yes”, and to open our heart to the flow of Grace; or we can choose to say “No”, and keep our heart closed to its flow. The decision to open our heart to the Love of God is a critical one. It is a choice between life and death. Moses tried to explained this to the Hebrews in the desert just before they entered the promised land: “I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live, by loving the Lord, your God, heeding His voice, and holding fast to Him. For that will mean life for you, a long life for you…” Deuteronomy 30:19-20 The Heart Has Two Doors Did you know that the human heart has two doors? It does! — a front door and a back door. Jesus refers to them both: “On one occasion a lawyer stood up to pose him this problem: ‘Teacher, what must I do to inherit everlasting life?’ Jesus answered him: ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind; and you shall love your neighbor as yourself. Do this and you shall live.'” Matthew 22:34-40; Mark 12:28-3?? Luke 10:25-28 Jesus tells the lawyer that if he wishes to live and to inherit everlasting life, he must open both doors of his heart: the front door to God and the back door to the people and world around him. The decision to open these doors has a great deal to do with God’s Love and the way it “work” in us and through us. Saint John explains it this way: “When anyone believes that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, God dwells in him and he in God.” 1 John 4:15 “If we love one another God dwells in us, and his love is brought to perfection in us.” 1 John 4:12 Saint Paul explains the same thing in his own way: “May Christ dwell in your hearts through faith, and may charity be the root and foundation of your life. Thus you will be able to grasp fully Christ’s love, and experience this love so that you may attain to the fullness of God Himself.” Ephesians 3:17-19 But the message of Saint John and Saint Paul is the same: two doors to the heart must be opened in order… to “inherit everlasting life”, to “grasp Christ’s love”, and to “experience this love”. Both doors to our heart need to be opened for Grace to flow through us. Both need to be opened for Grace to “work”. The Door of Faith and the Door of Charity Faith throws the front door of the heart open to God. When the front door of the heart is open to God in faith, it creates a passageway between our heart and the Heart of God along which Grace, the Love/Energy of God, begins to flow into our heart. We experience reconciliation with God and peace within ourselves. We also experience the promise of an inner healing and transfromation of life. But nothing really changes in ourselves or our relationship with others or the world around us. The back door needs to be opened! Both the front and the back door of a house need to be opened if fresh air is to flow through it! (Ref. John 3:5-8) Charity throws the back door of the heart open to others and to the world. Charity is doing deeds of love in the name of God. These deeds need not always be great things, they can be small things like a compassionate word said or a few moments of attention given. But great or small, they must be done in the name of God and for His sake; not as we usually do them — at our convenience and for our own advantage or benefit. “The gift you have received, gift as a gift.” Matthew 10:8 The motivation for opening the back door of our heart comes only when we have first opened the front door. When we open the front door to God in faith, we experience the love of God for us personally — “We come to know it”. This experience of being loved urges us to open the back door of our heart to others and the world around us. We can only give what we ourselves first possess. And when it comes to love, we can only give that which we have been given. Real love is a free and unconditional gift — a gift with no strings attached. It can only be received as a gift. And once received, it can only be given as a gift! When we do small acts of love for others in the name of God who first loved us, we give as a gift the Love we have received as a gift. The Divine Energy that is the Love of God joins itself to our act of charity and can now flow completely through us. Things begin to change! Things begin to “break loose” both within us and in our relationships with others and the world around us. We begin to be transformed into a new person: one who is… “…formed anew in the image of his Creator.” Colossians 3:10 When we see and experience the power of the love of God at work in us and through us, “we come to believe in it! When only the front door of the heart is opened, when there is faith but not charity, then there is reconciliation with God and peace but no change. When only the back door of the heart is opened, when there is charity but not faith, then there is genuine kindness but no power for change. Change, and the power for it, is a matter of both doors being open and Grace flowing freely into and through the human heart. Transformation in our lives is the result of the flow of Grace through our hearts. The Life of Grace is a Holy ‘Communion of Loves’ The life of Grace can be described as a holy “communion” of two loves: God’s love and our’s. The Love/Energy of God flows from His Heart into our own when we open our hearts by believing in the love that God has for us. Once within us, this Love/Energy seeks to unite itself to some loving act of our own — some gift of who we are or what we have that will now be given to another in God’s Name and out of gratitude for the love we have received from Him. Joining itself to our act of love, God’s Love/Energy passes out into the life of the world and the people around us. God’s Love/Energy magnifies and multiplies a hundred-fold the life-giving and healing effects of our act of charity. The Gospel story of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes (Luke 9:12-17) is a perfect example of this “communion of loves” at work. Jesus gave thanks to God and blessed the five loaves and two fish in God’s Name. He then instructed his disciples to distribute them as a gift of love to the crowd of five thousand. The small morsels were now the gift of both Divine and human love. They were miraculously multiplied by the Grace that joined them. While we may not always see such an immediate effect of our acts of charity when they are joined to the Love of God and done in His Name, we will none-the-less come to know of many miraculous things that will have taken place in the lives of people as a result of the union of God’s Love with our’s. Saint Paul wrote to the Christians at Ephesus: “To Him (God) whose power at work in us can do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine — to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations, world without end. Amen. Ephesians 4:20-21 God created woman and man to be united with Him in a Holy “Communion of Loves”. You might say that God created us to be the ordinary means by which His Grace would sustain and nourish the life of the world. Gifts lead to Possibilities, and Possibilities to Choices In teaching the first Christians about the Life of Grace, Saint Paul emphasized how total, complete and unconditional was the free gift of God’s Grace to each of us: “I am certain that neither death nor life, neither angels nor principlaities, neither the present nor the future, nor powers, neither height nor depth nor any other creature, will be able to seperate us from the love of God that comes to us in Christ Jesus, our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39 But Paul went on to say: “Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind.” Romans 12:2 Saint Paul makes two points. He tells us that we must be transformed by the renewal of our minds. As we have seen, this renewal and transformation takes place by the flow of Grace that begins at the front door of the heart with Faith and is completed at the back door of the heart in Charity. But Paul also warns us not to conform ourselves to this age. God’s Love and love in the world are two very different things. God’s Love has no strings attached; love in the world has all sorts of strings attached. God’s Love is freely given; love in the world comes with a price tag. God’s Love invites; love in the world manipulates. God’s Love wants only acceptance, love in the world wants compliance. We are all very much immeshed in the world and, wether we realize it or not, the world’s brand of loving attaches itself to us. Living the Life of Grace, in the way we have been describing it, will sooner or later come into conflict with our old patterns of loving. We will find ourselves feeling the tension between them. This tension alerts us to the fact that it is time to make some choices. Will our way of relating to the people and things in our world be through a holy “Communion of Loves” or will we continue to go it alone? Will our life be formed in the pattern of giving as a gift that which we receive as a gift or in the pattern of getting all we can get at the least expense? If we are to resolve the tension we feel, we will have to make a choice: either to renounce the new way of loving or the old. Receiving the free gift of God’s Love opens up the possibility of living our life in a new and completely different way. And new possibilities inevitably lead to choices. As the new Love takes root in us, it will ask that we renounce the old: that we renounce a love that is self-centered and self-seeking for one that is self-surrendering and self-giving; that we renounce a love that is other-using and other-manipulating for one that is other-attentive and other-blessing. The choice will be between our old ways of loving that isolated us and placed us in constant competition and conflict with the world and everything in it, and a new way of loving that connects us to God, to others and to the world around us in a life-giving way. Amazing Grace… “All of us, gazing on the Lord’s glory with unveiled faces, are being transformed from glory to glory into his very image by the Lord who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18 Grace, the Love of God for each of us, is the Lord’s “glory” that transforms us into His image. Chapter II Hail Mary, full of Grace! On his cross, Jesus gave all of his “beloved disciples” in every age the truly remarkable woman to be their mother: “Near the cross of Jesus there stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. Seeing his mother there with the disciple whom he loved, Jesus said to his mother, ‘Woman, there is your son.’ In turn he said to the disciple, ‘There is your mother.’ From that hour onward, the disciple took her into his care.” John 19:25-27 Mary is remarkable because she is a woman of Grace. We can learn a great deal from her about Grace and how it works in our lives. Let us look at a scene from her life described in the first chapter of Saint Luke’s Gospel: “In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. Upon arriving, the angel said to her: ‘Rejoice, O highly favored daughter! The Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women.’ She was deeply troubled by his words and wondered what his greeting meant. The angel went on to say to her: ‘Do not fear, Mary. You have found favor with God. You shall conceive and bear a son and give him the name Jesus. Great will be his dignity and he will be called Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of David his father. He will rule over the house of Jacob forever and his reign will be without end.’ Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be since I do not know man?’ The angel answered her: ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; hence, the holy offspring to be born will be called Son of God. Know that Elizabeth your kinswoman has conceived a son in her old age; she who was thought to be sterile is now in her sixth month, for nothing is impossible with God.'” Luke 1:26-37 If we pull out the underlined portions of this passage, we see more clearly what God is saying not only to Mary but to us all: “Rejoice, O highly favored daughter (or son)! The Lord is with you. You have found favor with God.” Our initial reaction might well be the same as Mary’s: “How can this be?” How can God’s “favor” (Grace) be mine? How can Grace be at work in my life? The explanation is the same for us as it is for Mary: It is the free gift of God and the “work” of His Holy Spirit: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.” The whole passage now comes to the great question the angel was sent to ask: Will you allow God’s favor (Grace) to work in your life? Just as the angel waited for Mary’s response, he now waits for ours! Mary Teaches Us How to Respond to Grace It is by personal example that Mary teaches us how to respond to God’s invitation to open our hearts to His Love and to let it “work” in our lives. Responding to the Invitation: The First Step “Mary said: ‘I am the servant of the Lord. Let it be done to me as you say.'” Luke 1:38 Mary’s first response to God’s offer to have His Grace work in her life is an unreserved act of faith. With a clear “Yes” she throws open the front door of her heart to God. By example, she teaches us that our first response to God must be to give Him a loud and clear, but very human, “Yes”: Yes! I will take the risk, God, and open my heart to Your love! I have been hurt and manipulated in the past, all too often in the name of “love”, and so this is not easy for me. I need you to know and understand this, Lord. That is not all: Your Love will have to embrace me as I am. I am so weary of trying to be something I’m not. I need to be loved as I really am. For my part, Lord, I will not hide or withhold any part of who I am from You I will expose it all to Your Love for me. Now that You know this, I can say… Yes! I accept Your offer! I don’t understand how you are going to do the impossible in my life. But yes! Let it be done! This “Yes” must be without reservation or exception. We can neither hold back nor hide any part or area of our life from God’s Love. The reason why Grace works so little effect in the lives of many believers is that their “Yes” to God is conditioned and qualified by so many reservations and exceptions that the front door of their heart is barely open an inch to God’s Love. Responding to the Invitation, The Second Step: “Thereupon Mary set out, proceeding in haste into the hill country to a town of Judah, where she entered Zechariah’s house and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leapt in her womb. Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and cried out in a loud voice: ‘Blest are you among women and blest is the fruit of your womb. But who am I that the mother of my Lord should come to me? The moment your greeting sounded in my ears, the baby leapt in my womb for joy. Blest is she who trusted that the Lord’s words to her would be fulfilled.'” Luke 1:39-45 Again, notice the portions of the passage that are underlined. Mary’s next and immediate response to God’s offer to have His Grace “work” in her life is to hasten to throw open the back door of her heart to someone in need. For Mary, at that moment, it happened to be Elizabeth who was six months pregnant in her old age. Again, Mary teaches us by example: If we want God’s Love is to “work” in our life, we must… Proceed in haste each day and enter into the house of someone’s need. Feeling God’s Love and acceptance for us, we are invited by the very Love we have received to take just a little bit of whatever we might have and offer it to the need of someone around us. This might be a bit of our time and attention, an encouraging word, a helping hand, or assistance out of our means. Whatever we have to offer, we offer it lovingly, in the name of God who first loved us: “I offer this piece of myself to you in love, and in the name of the Love that first loved me in Jesus Christ, my Lord.” The last step is to trust: Trust that the Lord’s words to you will be fulfilled. With both of the doors of your heart open, Grace will work the most astounding changes within you and in the world around you! Jesus said: “Everything is possible to a person who trusts.” Mark 9:23 Prayer Holds the Doors of the Heart Open Prayer is how we hold the doors of our heart open to the Love that God has for us. Without prayer the doors of the heart all too quickly swing shut to leave us once again in the darkness, closed in upon ourselves, ready to brood over past injuried and nurse old bitternesses. Nothing holds the front door of the heart wide open to God’s Love like the Prayer of Praise. The Prayer of Praise joyfully addresses God in thanksgiving. It asks nothing of God except to give God glory and honor for the goodness of His Love. We repeat the name of Jesus over and over again while we thank God for His Love. At the same time we let ourselves feel the warm waves of God’s Love moving toward us, bathing us and washing away every worry that fills our mind and every anxiety that grips our heart. A Prayer of Praise might sound something like this: Jesus, I thank you for your Love. Jesus, let your Love unbind the tensions and anxieties that grip my heart. Jesus, let your Love lift the worries that fill my mind. Jesus, let your Love dispel any fear within me. Jesus, I rejoice in who You are for me: my Friend, my Redeemer, my Brother, the Physician of my Soul. Jesus, I praise you. Jesus, I thank you. Jesus, I love you. If the Prayer of Praise holds the front door of the heart wide open to God’s Love, then the Prayer of Intercession holds the back door open. The Prayer of Intercession asks something for others: family, friends, neighbors, the poor. But it is most powerful when it asks something for our enemies and those who have injured us. In the Prayer of intercession, we mention their name to God and share with God their situation and our true feelings about them. We then specifically ask God to give them the good things we know that they need. We ask God to protect them, and to bless them, to make His Love known to them and to renew their life. Mary, herself prayed to keep the doors of her heart wide open to the Love of God. As we will see below, she prayed in Praise upon visiting Elizabeth and she prays in Intercession at the foot of Jesus’ cross. Mary Teaches Us a Pattern to the Life of Grace “Then Mary said: My being proclaims the greatness of the Lord, and my spirit finds joy in God my savior, For he has looked on his servant in her lowliness; all ages to come will call me blessed. God who is mighty has done great things for me, holy is his name; His mercy is from age to age on those who fear him. He has shown might with his arm; he has confused the proud in their inmost thoughts. He has deposed the mighty from their thrones and has raised up the lowly to high places. The hungry he has given every good thing, while the rich he has sent empty away. He has upheld Israel his servant, ever mindful of his mercy; Even as he promised our fathers, promised Abraham and his descendants forever.” Luke 1:46-55 This passage of the Gospel of Saint Luke is a song. It is Mary’ song, and she sings it in praise of God’s Grace in her life. Even in her song of praise, Mary continues to teach us the way God’s Grace can “work” in our life. The key word is “lowliness”: “God looks on his servant in her (or his) lowliness.” v. 48 What is this “lowliness” all about? Perhaps the words “littleness” and “emptiness” can best describe it. “Littleness” means to bring ourselves down, close to the earth; to plant our feet firmly on the groung; to stand in the honest and true stature of both our strengths and our weaknesses. It also means that we know the truth about ourselves and are willing to face it. “Littleness” means that we refuse to make excuses for our shortcomings — we acknowledge our sins, when we commit them, as wrong and we readily seek the help and strength we need to overcome them. Standing in this pasture, we allow ourselves to feel very much in common with all our fellow human beings, we taste our limitedness and we know our need for God. “Emptiness” is emptying ourselves of Self. We tend to get full of ourself: of self-satisfaction, of self-importance, of self-sufficiency, of self-determination. “Emptiness” means that we have our own thoughts, ideas and opinions, but that we set them aside for a moment and ask God to show us something more or appreciate something from a different angle or a wider perspective — perhaps to allow us to see things from His point of view. It also means that, while we have our own feelings and first impressions, we are willing to set them aside for just a bit to let God carry our hearts to a greater depth of feeling — to feel things with His Divine Heart. “Emptyness” means knowing what we need and want to do, but setting our will aside for a moments in order to listen for God’s will in the situation before us. The “littleness” and “emptiness” we are describing are voluntary and God-oriented. We do not make ourselves “little” and “empty” to impress others or because we lack self-confidence and have a poor opinion of ourself. We make ourselves little (of right stature) before God. We empty ourselves for God. To complete the description only one thing more must be added: expectation! The “littleness” Mary sings about expects to be lifted up; and the “emptiness” expects to be filled: God raises up the little; He fills the empty with every good thing. v. 52, 53 The Attitude in which Grace “Works” “Littleness” and “emptiness” describe an attitude — an attitude of receptivity and expectation. This is the kind of attitude to which God readily responds. It is the human attitude in which Grace “works”. It is called Humility. Humility is the soil of the heart that invites God to sow the seeds of new beginnings in our life, and that encourages God to nurture those seeds into powerful changes in our life. The opposite attitude is one of being puffed up, full of Self, autonomous, independent, the master of our own destiny. It is called Pride. Pride is a heart closed to God and barred against Grace. The Pattern by which Grace “Works” Mary’s Song sets forth a pattern that we are called to embrace: We becoming “little” so that God can lift us up; we emptying ourselves so that God can fill us. And… When God lifts us and fills us to meet our need in the present moment, we hasten to make ourselves little and empty again in the next. If we linger in our “up” and “full” mode we soon drift from being filled with God to being filled with ourselves. We begin to work off our own wisdom and energy and not His. That with which God has filled us for the need of one moment we want to make work in the next — but it never works! The position to which God lifts us in one situation we want to remain in for the next — and it is certain to be the wrong one! A deep depression always follows. In the Life of Grace, after we have once been lifted and filled, we voluntarily make ourselves “little” again to await the next rising, and voluntarily “empty” ourselves again in anticipation of the next filling. This is the way we keep our spiritual balance.. “I assure you, unless you change and become like little children, you will not enter the kingdom of God. Whoever makes himself lowly, becoming like this child, is of greatest importance in that heavenly reign.” Matthew 18:3-4 Does this mean that we deny or deprecate our self-worth or our talents and gifts? Not at all. Our self-worth is based upon the fact that we are children of God, in living communion with Him. This means that we allow God room to take the initiative within us in every moment and situation we find ourselves. But it also means that we respond to God’s initiative with our whole being: with all our heart and with all our soul — with every talent and gift we have. We continue to have our plans, to follow our course and to do our work; only now in everything we do, we pause to let God in — to shape our thinking, to expand our sensitivities and to take the initiative according to His will. “Every scribe who is learned in the reign of God is like the head of a household who can bring from his storeroom both the new and the old.” Matthew 13:52 When we make ourselves “little”, and “empty”, God really does take the initiative and act in our behalf: He turns things around, He gives depth to what we can feel and expands what we can see, He opens up new possibilities, He inspires hope, He provides us the strength, fortitude and endurance we need in the moment that faces us. If we look back on the text of Mary’s song, we see that it is a song in praise of God acting on her behalf. In the deepest sense her song is the song of every man or woman who has ever opened their heart to the Love of God: “Then Mary said: ‘My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, and my spirit finds joy in God my savior… God who is mighty has done great things for me, holy is His name.” Luke 1:46-47,49 Chapter III Holy Mary, Mother of God, Pray for us… The Saints work in communion for the success of the saints. This means that the Citizens of Heaven work in communion with Jesus for the success of all of us on earth. They work on our behalf through love and prayer. This is the great doctrine of the Body of Christ and the Communion of the Saints. Mary does this in a particular way. She does her work from the foot of the cross: “Near the cross of Jesus there stood his mother…” John 19:25 As we saw earlier, the cross is the throne of God’s Grace. Jesus on the cross is the very picture of the Heart of God laid open to the world. It was from his cross that Jesus gave Mary to be the mother of of every woman or man that comes to the cross — that seeks to open their heart to God’s Love. “Seeing his mother there with the disciple whom he loved, Jesus said to his mother, ‘Woman, there is your son.’ In turn he said to the disciple, ‘There is your mother.'” John 19:26-27 Mary stands with us before Jesus as our Mother in Faith, to pray with us and to teach us how to open our hearts to “the love of God that comes to us in Christ Jesus, our Lord” (Romans 8:39). She also stands with us as our Mother in Charity, wanting to pray with us and teach us how to walk in the power of “the love of God (that) has been poured out in our hearts.” (Romans 5:5). Mary is both our tutor and our advocate in the Life of Grace. She stands at the front door of our heart, to pray with us and tutor us in a longing desire for God and God alone (Faith). She also stands at the back door our our heart, to pray with us and tutor us in a true and genuine doing of the deeds of love for other’s in Jesus’ name and for Jesus’ sake (Charity). Hail Mary, full of Grace, the Lord is with thee; Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God and my mother, Pray for me a sinner now and at the hour of my death. Amen. Mother of Those Beneath the Cross and Those on the Cross It is not just at the foot of the Jesus’ cross that Mray stands. There are other crosses on Calvary. Saint Luke, in his Gospel, describes a dramatic conversation that took place on Calvary between Jesus and the criminals crucified with him: “One of the criminals hanging in crucifixion blasphemed him: ‘Aren’t you the Messiah? Than save yourself and us.’ But the other one rebuked him: ‘Have you no fear of God, seeing that we are under the same sentence? We deserve it, after all. We are only paying the price for what we’ve done, but this man has done nothing wrong.’ He then said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you enter upon your reign.’ And Jesus replied, ‘I assure you: this day you will be with me in paradise.'” Luke 23:39-43 This scene reveals the stark truth about us all. In one way or another, we have all been crucified by the world and we find ourselves hanging on a cross of our own heartache. Nor are we completely innocent victims. We have all done our share of crucifying others: either out of our pride and greed or out of anger and bitterness. If what Saint John tells us in his account of Calvary is true, Mary was present to this conversation between Jesus and the criminals crucified with him. As a mother, her heart must have spoke in love and prayer to the heart of each of those criminals crucified with Jesus. Her prayer is certainly not difficult to imagine: “Open your heart to Jesus!” The Gospel of Luke tells us that one of the criminals did and that the other did not. The one that did found himself, that very day, in Paradse. What about us? The two criminals crucified with Jesus stand for us, and Mary has one and the same prayer and counsel for us all: Open your heart to Jesus! …to Jesus crucified out of love for you (the front door of your heart); …to Jesus crucified in the least of your sisters and brothers (the back door). Like the criminals crucified with Jesus , the choice is ours: we can open our hearts to Grace offered us — a Grace that can heal us, restore us and lead us to eternal life; or we can keep our hearts closed to the love and salvation offered — a refusal that seals us in on ourselves to be consumed by our own bitterness and anger. This refusal and the heart that it holds imprisoned in bitterness and anger is the very definition of Hell. O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of Hell. Lead all souls to Heaven, especially those in most need of thy mercy. Chapter IV “…our daily bread…” “Give us this day our daily bread…” Matthew 6:11 Have you ever wondered what “our daily bread” might be? It has a lot to do with the Life of Grace. Let’s take a moment to unfold its meaning. A clearer rendering of this verse might be: “Give us this day our bread for the day.” But let’s unfold it just a bit further: “Dear Heavenly Father, Provide us all that we need in this moment.” Our “daily bread” is everything that we need in the present moment — all that we need, not only to endure it and survive it, but everything necessary to respond to it fully and pass through it with joy and in peace. To live the Life of Grace means that in every moment and in each situation we find ourselves, we ask and expect God to provide everything we need by way of strength, fortitude and love, right-judgement and understanding, knowledge of the Truth and that which will give life. Not only will God provide all that we need for the moment, He already has provided it! It is already ours: “Praised be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has bestowed on us in Christ every spiritual blessing in the heavens!” Ephesians 1:3 We need only open our hearts to it and claim it! We are always praying as if we are trying to get something out of God when in fact He has already provided us everything we need. The key is to open our heart to Him and claim it: God, however, gives us what we need only for the moment and situation we face. He does not give us what we will need for the moment after this one. God gives us our “daily” bread — our “bread for the moment”. He does not give us our “weekly bread”, our “monthly bread” or our “bread for the whole project” or enterprise we have embarked upon (our marriage, family, mission, ministry, etc.) Why not? First, because this is the only way we will be able to preserve our sanity. Life is lived successfully and with joy only when it is lived in the present moment, not when it is lived in the moment past or the moment to come. But there is an even richer reason. We were created by God “in His image and likeness”. This means that we were made to live in communion with Him. Everything we need for the moment and situation at hand is already ours, we need only open our heart to God in the present moment and claim it. And everything we need for the moment and situation that follows the one at hand will be provided for us as well, if we open our heart in that moment to God’s presence and claim it. God’s presence and Grace must be turned to and claimed, moment by moment and situation by situation. Nothing else preserves the living communion with God that we were created to enjoy. Incredible and unbelievable? Yes, it is! But that is just the problem: we don’t really believe it. We don’t trust it, and so we don’t open our heart to it. But that is not all there is to tell of our unbelief. If the whole truth is to be told, we don’t believe it because down deep we don’t want to believe it! We have our own agenda and our own plan for what we want done in this moment, and in the moment after this, and in the moments after that. We want what we want and, frankly, we want to be able to get it ourselves. If this should fail, then perhaps we might want God’s help to get it — but the bottom line is that we still want what we want. Even among the Godly we play the same game: we want to build the Kingdom for God for Him, or if that fails, to build the Kingdom with a little of His assistance; rather than see His Kingdom built at His initiative, out of a living communion of will and energy with us. We are perpetually angry with God because He did not make us independent and autonomous — a self-made, self-contained, self-determined woman or man. And then we get angry with Him all over again because he won’t help us get what we want when we want it. Our addiction to our own autonomy and our own will restrains us from opening the doors of our heart to God’s presence and Grace. You might say that we are starving to death at a banquet all laid out and provided for us. I think that this was Jesus’ point about the person without a wedding garment in the parable of the Wedding Banquet (Matthew 22:1-14). The person was not clothed with the Humility that makes communion possible. If you think about it, Jesus was really talking about us! In a passage in the Old Testament, the prophet Isaiah says: “On this mountain the Lord of hosts will provide for all peoples a feast of rich food and pure, choice wines — juicy, rich food and pure, choice wine.” Isaiah 25:6 The “mountain” that Isaiah speaks of is Calvary. Calvary is the place were God, in Jesus, establishes the new Life (Covenant) of Grace. The food that Isaiah says God will provide is Grace — “our bread for the moment”. In another passage, Isaiah delivers an invitation in the name of God: “All you who are thirsty, come to the water! You who have no money, come receive grain and eat; Come, without paying and without cost, drink wine and milk!… Heed me, and you shall eat well, you shall delight in rich fare. Come to me heedfully, listen, that you may have life.” Isaiah 55:1-3 This is an invitation to live the Life of Grace. It is a call to respond to God, to “heed” Him in each moment and every situation. Grace is grace. I mean by this that Grace is a freely given, lavishly provided for gift in every moment for those willing to open their heart to it, for those willing to be loved by God, for those willing to live a life in communion with God. It is a gift that can never be received by those wanting to stand independent and autonomous: those who refuse communion with God, their fellow human beings and the world around them. Nor can it be received by those who seek to be indulged by God rather than loved by Him. A lover stands free to give all that is best. A lover is trusted to give everything that is necessary. The real issue in all of this is whether we are willing to let God be God, and allow ourselves to be loved by Him. Ultimately, only love can heal us and rebuild our world. It is all the work of Grace. We cannot think or talk ourselves or our world “right”. Nor can we engineer them “right”. Good intentions, firm resolutions, the best plans, and the most noble projects by themselves are doomed to fail. Only a love greater than our own can save us — a love freely given, entering the heart with warm welcome, and there given human flesh and blood in works of charity that announce the Good News to others: God is real! Forgiveness is available! Healing is possible! IX. The Life of Grace The Life of Grace is “bread for the day”: freely given and lavishly provided for us in every moment and each situation if we open our heart to it: “You heavenly Father knows all that you need. Seek first His kingship over you , His way of holiness, and all these things will be given you besides.” Matthew 6:32-33 The Life of Grace is the pattern of “littleness” and “emptiness”: “littleness” with the expectation that we will be lifted; “emptiness” with the anticipation that we will be filled: “I am the little one before the Lord, let it be done to me according to Thy word.” Luke 1:38 The Life of Grace is Faith and Charity. This is God’s “Way of Holiness”: both doors of the heart thrown open — the front door to God and God alone in every moment and situation, and the back door to the needs of our brothers and sisters: “May Christ dwell in you hearts through faith, and may charity be the root and foundation of your life. Thus you will be able to grasp fully Christ’s love, and experience this love so that you may attain to the fullness of God himself.” Ephesians 3:17-19 Now we return to the great question: Will you allow God’s Grace to work in your life? This is no more and no less than to say: Will you let God love you? The angel waits for your answer as he did for Mary’s. How will you respond? Open the doors of your heart: to God with the clear “Yes” of Faith and to the need of your sisters and brothers in Charity. Form your life in the pattern of voluntary “littleness” and “emptiness”. Accept the “bread for each moment” God offers you: Turn to God in each moment, open your heart to His love for you, and claim His Grace. X. A Daily Devotion I have come to know and to believe in the love God has for me! “God is rich in mercy; because of His great love for us He brought us to life with Christ when we were dead in sin.” Eph 2:4-5 I have come to know and to believe in the love God has for me! “God’s love was revealed in our midst in this way: He sent His only Son into the world that we might have life through him.” 1 Jn 1:9 I have come to know and to believe in the love God has for me! “The way that we came to understand love way that he laid down his life for us; we too must lay down our lives for each other” 1 Jn 3:16 I have come to know and to believe in the love God has for me! “When anyone believes that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, God dwells in him and he in God.” 1 Jn 4:15 I have come to know and to believe in the love God has for me! “If we love one another God dwells in us, and His love is brought to perfection in us.” 1 Jn 4:12 I have come to know and to believe in the love God has for me! Lord, help me to open my heart to You; help me, also, to exercise a true and generous love for others in Your name. “May Christ dwell in your hearts through faith, and may charity be the root and foundation of your life. Thus you will be able to grasp fully Christ’s love, and experience this love so that you may attain to the fullness of God Himself.” Eph 3:17-19

The Commandments

All Three Parts By Father James Chelich

THE COMMANDMENTS Part I Principles of Personal Integrity Father James Chelich – 2000 1. The secret to loving and following the Commandments is to DESIRE the KIND OF WORLD to which the Commandments lead. A WORLD in which… people strive to understand and honor the integrity of each person and element in creation, people stop and think about what they say and do and then ask themselves what they would do differently, people are more grateful than they are demanding, people pay heart-felt attention to their families of origin and are motivated to forgive, to heal, and to grow, violence is abhorred not glamorized or fantasized as entertainment people look at your spouse, find them attractive, value your relationship and think about how they might honor it, people take more delight in what they have than dwell on what they don’t, greed does not go unbridled A WORLD where there is… no multi-generational poverty, no disenfranchised class, no alienated segment of society, no permeant “losers”, no root of bitterness across generations. A WORLD in which the goal of the social order is redemptive: the re-enfranchisement, inclusion, and integration of all in a life-giving whole. If you have no desire for that world, then the Commandments make no sense and become only constrictive rules of “do” and “don’t”. 2. The Commandments are a GIFT from a loving God who takes seriously humanity’s longing for a world where people live in right- and life-giving relationship with God, with one another and with the elements of nature around them. The Commandments are the REVEALED PATH to that world. 3. This kind of world requires PERSONAL INTEGRITY. This kind of world will never come to be without personal integrity, a SPECIFIC KIND of personal integrity. The Ten Commandments are these PRINCIPLES OF INTEGRITY. I, the LORD, am your God, Who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery. You shall not have other gods besides me. A whole and free human being: 1) acknowledges the existence of a Power and a Wisdom greater than their own, 2) walks in this world not as a “god” but as a creature made in the image and likeness of God, 3) seeks to know and lived the principles of constructive relationship with God and all things. You shall not take the NAME of the LORD, your God, in vain. God is not a power to be manipulated or a force to be controlled but a Person with whom to interact. The name of GOD is a gift given in friendship. Calling on the name of God makes us aware that we are connected to existence in a personal, not an impersonal way. The name of God is not a weapon for abuse. Remember to keep holy the sabbath day. Six days you may labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord, your God. No work may be done… Stopping, being silent, reflecting, listening and being grateful are absolutely essential to remaining human and to preserving a humane world. Honor your father and mother. You must pay attention to the personal origin of your life, not deny it or live in resentment of it. You owe your parents understanding of their wounds and weaknesses, resolve to heal and rectify them in yourself, gratitude for the blessings they were able to give, and a resolve to build upon all that was good and noble in them. You shall not kill. Dealing death to any human being, under any circumstances, inflicts a deep trauma to the human person and the fabric of mankind. Even if done in defense it requires remorse, cleansing and spiritual healing. You shall not commit adultery. The sexual bond of husband and wife is sacred. It is the dynamic in which life is conceived, a school for intimate relationship, a supportive context for personal growth, the foundation of the family, and the most elemental cell of human community. To violate it is to violate all of these. You shall not steal. Trust is the foundation upon which human community is built. Your honesty is connected to the peace and security of others. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. Honesty is the foundation of Justice and Freedom. The truth of your word is connected to your freedom, the freedom of others, and justice for all. You shall not covet your neighbors wife. Even in your thoughts, the bond of each person with their husband and wife is sacred and inviolable. You shall not covet your neighbor’s goods. Envy will distort your gifts, erode your talents, destroy your creativity, consume your mind and burn down the world. THE COMMANDMENTS Part II Principles of Social Integrity Father James Chelich – 2000 Building on a foundation of PERSONAL INTEGRITY (the Ten Commandments), God also reveals principles of SOCIAL INTEGRITY. In setting forth SOCIAL COMMANDMENTS, God reveals moral principles of critical concern for a healthy human community. The SOCIAL COMMANDMENTS call for a specific character to the social order: If one of your kinsmen in any community is in need in the land.. you shall not harden your heart nor close your hand to him in his need. Instead, you shall open your hand to him and freely lend him enough to meet his need… Deuteronomy 15:7-11 You shall not go about spreading slander among your kinsmen; nor shall you stand by idly when your neighbor’s life is at stake. Lev. 19:16 A proactive concern for others must be fostered in society’s ethics and in the social order. Indifference to the plight of others is a moral evil. When your countryman becomes so impoverished beside you that he sells you his services, do not make him work as a slave. Rather, let him be like a hired servant or like your tenant, working with you…Do not lord it over them harshly, but stand in fear of your God. Leviticus 25:39-43 You shall not defraud a poor and needy hired servant, whether he be one of your own countrymen or one of the aliens who live in your communities. You shall pay him each day’s wages before sundown on the day itself, since he is poor and looks forward to them. Deuteronomy 24:14-15 No one shall take a hand mill or even its upper stone as a pledge for debt, for he would be taking the debtor’s sustenance as a pledge. Deuteronomy 24:6 If you take your neighbor’s cloak as a pledge, you shall return it to him before sunset; for this cloak of his is the only covering he has for his body. Exodus 22:25-26 Provision must be made in the social order to protect the vulnerability of those who have fallen on hard times. You may never remove a person’s means of sustaining themselves. Opportunity to recover must be extended. When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not be so thorough that you reap the field to its very edge, nor shall you glean the stray ears of grain. Likewise, you shall not pick your vineyard bare, nor gather up the grapes that have fallen. These things you shall leave for the poor and the alien. Lev 19:9-10 Provision must be made in the social order for those who live in destitution. You shall not act dishonestly in rendering judgement. Show neither partiality to the weak nor deference to the mighty, but judge your fellow men justly. Lev 19:15 Rigorous honesty and uncompromised fairness is essential in the social order. You shall not curse the deaf, or put a stumbling block in front of the blind, but you shall fear your God. Lev. 19:13-14 Stand up in the presence of the aged, and show respect for the old; thus shall you fear your God. Lev. 19:32 Social structures and procedure must respect the basic human dignity of all, especially the weak and impaired. When an alien resides with you in your land, do not molest him. You shall treat the alien who resides with you no differently than the natives born among you… Lev. 19:33 There is to be no distinction between the treatment of the native or the foreigner. At the end of every seven-year period you shall have a relaxation of debts, which shall be observed as follows. Every creditor shall relax his claim on what he has loaned his neighbor; he must not press his neighbor, his kinsman… Deut 15:1-2 Provision must be made for individuals to reorganize and manage debt with a view to their renewed ability to meet their responsibilities. Seven weeks of years shall you count — seven times seven years — so that the seven cycles amount to forty-nine years… This fiftieth year you shall make sacred by proclaiming liberty in the land for all its inhabitants. It shall be a Jubilee for you… Lev 25:8-12 The land shall not be sold in perpetuity, for the land is mine, and you are but aliens who have become my tenants. When one of your countrymen is reduced to poverty and has to sell some of his property…what he has sold shall remain in the possession of the purchaser until the Jubilee, when it must be released and returned to its original owner. Lev. 25:23-28 The opportunities of the next generation must not be foreclosed upon by the negligence or poor choices of the generation before. Neither shall you allege the example of the many as an excuse for doing wrong, nor shall you, when testifying in a lawsuit, side with the many in perverting justice. Exodus 23:2 “Everyone does it” is morally unacceptable. By the provision of these Social Commandments there is: no disenfranchised class, no alienated segment of society, no permanent “losers”, no root of bitterness across generations. The goal of society is redemptive: the re-enfranchisement, inclusion, and integration of all in a life-giving whole. The human world of God’s design is free of multi-generational poverty and abject destitution. The social world to which the Commandments lead is a world where all have opportunity and all are responsible for the ways in which they use opportunity. THE COMMANDMENTS Part III Jesus and the Commandments Father James Chelich – 2000 “In the beginning was the Word, the Word was in God’s presence, and the Word was God… Through Him all things came into into being, and apart from Him nothing came to be… The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.” John 1:1,3,14 Jesus is the Word of God become flesh. As the divine Word of God, Jesus is the author and origin of the principles of Personal Integrity (Ten Commandments) and the principles of Social Integrity (Social Commandments) we find in the Old Testament. Jesus “fills full” the Commandments that call for Personal and Social Integrity Do not think that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets. I have come, not to abolish them, but to fulfill them. Matthew 5:17ff You heard the commandment… ‘You shall not commit murder.’ What I say to you is: everyone who grows angry with his brother shall be liable to judgement. You heard the commandment… ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ What I say to you is: anyone who looks lustfully at a person has already committed adultery with them in their thoughts. Through Jesus, with him and in him we find the ability to live the Commandments and bring into reality the just world to which they lead. “The law is holy and the commandment is holy and just and good…Romans 7:12 (But) I am weak flesh sold into the slavery of sin… Even though I want to do what is right, a law that leads to wrongdoing is always ready at hand. My inner self agrees with the Law of God, but I see in my body’s members another law at war with the Law of God in my mind…(Romans 7:14,21-23) What a wretched man I am! Who can free me from this body under the power of death? (Romans 7:24) God sent his Son in the likeness of sinful flesh as a sin offering thereby condemning sin in the flesh, so that the just demands of the Law might be fulfilled in us who live…according to the spirit. (Romans 8:3-4) We are brought into right-relationship with God by Christ so that living in him and He living in us we might be able to live the Commandments in their fullness. “To those who are called, Jews and Gentiles alike, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God.” 1 Cirinthians 1:24 Jesus alters the Ritual Prescriptions for Worship and Community Membership Jesus changes the way people and things are made “clean”: no longer from the outside in, but from the inside out: Look! There is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world! John 1:29 If we acknowledge our sins, he who is just can be trusted to forgive our sins and cleanse us from every wrong. 1 John 1:9 Here me, all of you, and try to understand. Nothing that enters a man from outside can make him impure; that which comes out of him, and only that, constitutes impurity… Thus did he render all foods clean. Mark 7:14-19 Jesus changes religion. The Temple is no longer a building made of stones in Jerusalem. It is a the body of believers in Jesus who are built up as living stones with Jesus the keystone. The sacrifice is no longer sheep and bulls. It is the presentation and offering of one eternal sacrifice: Jesus, the Lamb of God. Because Jesus is our God come to be with us, the whole essential dynamic of religion is radically changed: it is no longer worshiping before God, it is now living in communion with God. You will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem… An hour is coming, and is already here, when authentic worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth. John 4:21,23 Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up… He was talking about the temple of his body. John 2:8-21 This is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks upon the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life. Him I will raise up on the last day. John 6:40 I solemnly assure you, no one can enter into God’s Kingdom without being begotten of water and Spirit. John 3:5 Let me solemnly assure you, if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. John 6:52 Jesus took bread, blessed it, broke it, and gave it to his disciples. ‘Take this and eat it…this is my body.” Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them. ‘All of you must drink from it…for this is my blood, the blood of the covenant, to be poured out in behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins. Matthew 26:26-28 ‘Do this as a remembrance of me.’ Luke 22:19 I have given them the glory you gave me that they may be one, as we are one — I living in them, you living in me — that their unity may be complete. John 17:22-23

This is My Body

cscmt001During the meal Jesus took bread, blessed it, broke it, and gave it to his disciples. He said: ‘Take this and eat it, this is my body.’ Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them. He said: ‘All of you must drink from it for this is my blood, the blood of the covenant to be poured out in behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins.'” (Matt. 26:26-28) “Is not the cup of blessing we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread we break a sharing in the body of Christ?” (1 Cor. 10:16) At the heart of the Eucharistic Celebration are the bread and wine that, by the words of Christ and the invocation of the Holy Spirit, become Christ’s Body and Blood…(CCC 1333)

Is the Holy Eucharist Really Jesus’ Flesh and Blood?
Jesus says so himself: “My flesh is real food and my blood is real drink.” (Jn 6:55) “Take this and eat it, this is my body…this is my blood.” The Council of Trent summarizes the Catholic faith by declaring: “Because Christ our Redeemer said that it was truly his body that he was offering under the species of bread, it has always been the conviction of the Church of God, and this holy Council now declares again, that by the consecration of the bread and wine there takes place a change of the whole substance of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ, our Lord, and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of his blood. This change the Holy Catholic Church had fittingly and properly called transubstantiation.” (CCC 1376)

The Authority of Jesus’ Word
“So shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; it shall not return to me void, but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11) How effective is Jesus’word? He declares a sinner forgiven and he is forgiven (Mark 2:5ff). He declares a leper cured and he is cured (Mark 1:40ff). He declares a dead man alive and he comea back from death. (John 11:14ff). His word changes water into wine (John 2:7ff). If Jesus is the Incarnate Word of God (John 1:14), the same Word of God that pronounced all things into substantial existence out of nothigness (Genesis 1:1-31; John 1:1-3), then when he pronounces bread and wine to be changed into his Body and Blood (Matt 26:26-28), it is changed from the substance of bread and wine into the substance of his Body and Blood. It is by the conversion of the bread and wine into Christ’s body and blood that Christ becomes present in this sacrament. The Church Fathers strongly affirmed the faith of the Church in the efficacy of the Word of Christ and the action of the Holy Spirit to bring about this conversion… (CCC 1375)

Transubstantiation:
His Real Flesh, His Real Blood, His Real Presence
The person who feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.”( John 6:56) The word “transubstantiation” describes the change that takes place in the bread and wine at the words of institution. We do not believe that the bread and wine just change figuratively, analogously, or in significance (in the consideration of another). We believe that the substance of bread and wine changes into the substance of Jesus’ whole self: body and blood, soul and divinity. The Eucharist is actually Jesus and when we receive it, we actually receive him. The mode of Christ’s presence under the Eucharitic species is unique. It raises the Eucharist above all sacraments as ‘the perfection of the spiritual life and the end to which all the sacraments tend.’ In the most blessed sacrament of the Eucharist ‘the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore, the whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially contained…’ “It is a substantial presence by which Christ, God and man, makes himself wholly and entirely present.” (CCC 1374)

Why Does It Continue To Look Like Bread And Wine?
First of all, when you receive the Body and Blood of Christ in Holy Communion you are not receiving a piece of his body and some of his Blood. You receive the whole of his Body and the whole of his Blood — the whole of who he is both human (man) and Divine (God). Secondly, Jesus wants you to think of receiving his Body and Blood as receiving real food. He says: You should…be working for food that remains unto life eternal, food which the Son of Man will give you.”(John 6:27) “My flesh is real food and my blod is real drink.”(John 6:55) Even more specifically, Jesus wants you to think of receiving his Body and Blood as bread — as “Bread from Heaven”: I myself am the living bread come down from heaven. If anyone eats this bread he shll live forever; the bread I will give is my flesh, for the life of the world.” (John 6:50-51) Retaining he appearance of bread and wine serves these purposes.

When You Receive Holy Communion Things Change Substantially!
“Is not the cup of blessing we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread we break a sharing in the body of Christ? Because the loaf of bread is one, we, many though we are, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.” (1 Cor. 10:16-17) We receive the flesh and blood of God to become the flesh and blood of God. In the act of receiving the Body and Blood of Jesus in Holy Communion we become flesh of God’s flesh and blood of God’s blood. We are not just figuratively or analogously sons and daughters of God, we are substantially sons and daughters of God in Jesus Christ. We receive the flesh and blood of God to become the flesh and blood of one another. In the act of receiving the Body and Blood of Jesus in Holy Communion we become flesh and blood of one another. Reception of the Eucharist makes us not figuratively or even morally, but substantially and literlly the flesh and blood of those who receive with us. Hatred and racism among us are not only morally wrong, they are a denial of the meaning of the Holy Eucharist and a sin against the flesh and blood of God.

God Is LOVE!

Fr. James Chelich
June 2010

I
GOD IS ONE

Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One.
Deuteronomy 6:4

There is only one God, not three. But the One God reveals Himself, and is experienced by humanity as three “Persons.” These “Persons” are distinct in that one is not either
of the others, but apart from this distinction each possesses all that the others are, and they possess one and the same mind and will. Although this is an unfathomable mystery, it is important not to dismiss it from consideration. It has profound meaning for humanity. It is the key to our existence in the created world. Our purpose here is not to analyze what these “Persons” are, but to receive what God has revealed them
to be, and gain an insight into how these “Persons” are One God. It is here that the treasure lies for humanity.

II
GOD IS THE FATHER,
GOD IS THE FATHER’S WORD – THE SON,
GOD IS THE FATHER’S SPIRIT – THE HOLY SPIRIT

Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations.
Baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son,
and of the Holy Spirit. Matthew 28:19

God is the Father and Source of all Being.
He conceived of all that came to be.

God is the Word of the Father,
Who is the expression of the mind of the Father:

In the beginning was the Word;
The Word was in God’s presence, and the Word was God.
He was present to God in the beginning.
Through him all things came to be…

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us,
and we have seen his glory:
the glory of an only Son coming from the Father
filled with grace and truth…
No one has ever seen God, it is God, the only Son,
ever at the Father’s side, who has revealed God.
John 1:1-3, 14, 18

All that the Father is, is in the Father’s Word; and all that He is,
is given in the service of the Father’s mind and will:

If you knew me, you would know my Father too.
John 8:19

The Father is in me and I in Him.
John 10:38

The Father and I are one.
John 10:30

All that the Father has belongs to me.
John 16:15

I do nothing by myself.
I say only what the Father has taught me.
John 8:28

God is the Spirit of the Father, the Father’s Power
Who unfolds all things as the Father conceives them
and the Father’s Word expresses them:

I will ask the Father and He will give you another Paraclete –
to be with you always: the Spirit of truth… John 14:16-17

When the Paraclete comes,
the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father –
and whom I myself will send from the Father –
he will bear witness on my behalf.
John 15:26

All that the Father is, and all that the Father’s Word expresses, is in the Father’s
Spirit, and all that He is, is given in the service of the Father and the Father’s Word:

He will not speak on his own, but will speak only what he hears…
In doing this He will give glory to me,
because He will have received from me what He will announce to you.
John 16:13

III
GOD IS LOVE

God is love,and he who abides in love,
abides in God and God in him. 1 John 4:16b

Between the Father, the Father’s Word, and the Father’s Spirit there is a dynamic, interactive Love of an utterly unique character – constantly self-giving, totally self-surrendering, it results in a unity complete, and yet an integrity preserved. In this unity, all is possessed by each as a gift received, and nothing is retained by any as a possession held. This unity is the One God. This Love is the origin of the universe. The Greek word given in the Bible for this constant, unreserved self-empting of one into the others is kenosis. At every moment, in every moment all is given as a gift,
and simultaneously all is received in return as a gift, but multiplied infinitely. At the core of Christian faith is the belief that the unreserved gift of self, at the heart of the Love that is God, always returns to the Giver infinitely multiplied.

IV
LOVE INCARNATE

As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you.
Live on in my love. John 15:9

The words and deeds of Jesus were collected and compiled by the early Christians under the inspiration of the Father’s Spirit (2 Timothy 3:16). We know them as the Gospel accounts attributed to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Matthew, Mark and Luke’s accounts of Jesus’ life are noticeably similar to one another. We see Jesus leaving Nazareth in the region of Galilee where he had been reared as a child, and moving to a small fishing village. There he begins to teach. His words are compelling and draw more and more people. The love expressed in his words has a remarkable effect on many, who find that they are healed in body and mind. A blind man is restored to sight, a deaf man recovers his hearing, a woman is cured of the chronic bleeding that drains her strength away, a cripple is able to walk, a withered hand is restored to its full use. As he journeys around Galilee, down to Jerusalem, and into
the regions east of the Jordan River, the same things happen to people everywhere he goes. In reading all this one can easily get the impression that Jesus was a magician, that he had the power to perform miracles to amaze and draw the attention of the crowd. Some might say that he was an amazing faith healer: people brought him what they wanted fixed in themselves and he fixed it! Is that really what was at work in Jesus? John, the writer of the fourth Gospel, strongly suggests something very different.

John gives us a lens through which he asks us to look at and under-stand Jesus.
The lens, for John, is love. In his Gospel account he calls himself, “the disciple Jesus loved.” (John 21:7) His Gospel is filled with the word love, as he recalls the words of Jesus:

As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you.
Live on in my love. John 15:9

I give you a new commandment: Love one another.
Such as my love has been for you,
so must your love be for one another. John 13:34

Just Father, the world has not known you, but I have
known you; and these men have known that you sent me.
To them I have revealed your name, and I will continue
to reveal it so that your love for me may live in them,
and I may live in them. John 17:25-26

He who obeys the commandments he has from me
is the man who loves me; and he who loves me
will be loved by my Father. I too will love him
and reveal myself to him. John 14:21

John’s teaching letters in the New Testament are written around
the same theme:

Beloved, if God has loved us so,
we must have the same love for one another. 1 John 4:11

We have come to know and believe
in the love God has for us. 1 John 4:16a

God is love, and he who abides in love,
abides in God and God in him. 1 John 4:16b

We have seen his glory:
the glory of an only Son coming from the Father
filled with enduring love… John 1:14

John suggests that what people encountered when they met Jesus and he spoke to them was not a magician performing miracles or a faith healer performing cures, but something much more profound. John presses us to understand that in the presence
of Jesus people encountered the Source of their Being. Jesus himself says, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” (John 14:9). In his face, his words, his very being, they experienced the undying love of the God and Father who called them into existence. Some of these individuals immediately distanced themselves from Jesus.
They kept him mentally, emotionally, and I suspect even physically distant. Perhaps they sensed that to allow themselves to draw too close would mean that everything would change within them and around them. Others, however, looked him full in the face and drew into their hearts, minds and bodies the undying Love of God for them expressed there. Then, indeed, everything changed! When I get to Heaven I plan on looking up the guy who had his sight restored. I plan on asking him what it was like
to be healed of his blindness. I suspect that he will look at me and say, “That was the least of the things that got healed in me that day! It was the most visible at the moment, and it really was pretty spectacular to the crowds looking on, but let me assure you, it was the least

of the things that the Love in Jesus healed and drew back into right order within me.
I also plan on talking to the woman who, after years of chronic bleeding, was restored to full strength and able to stand tall and straight again. I want to ask her what it was like to feel the healing of her body. But again, I suspect that she will just look at me with puzzlement and say, “Dear man, that was the least of the things within me that was healed and regenerated!”

We have come to know
and believe in the love God has for us. 1 John 4:16a

Some things only the experience of the Love that conceived you and called you into being can heal in you: the wounds of abuse, the bitter resentments accumulated over the years, the anger retained and stored, the quick temper and tendency to violence. And there are some things that only this Love can restore to you: your sense of the value of your existence, the importance of your life, the purposefulness of the things that happen to you on your life’s journey, your freedom, your ability to love and to
be connected to the world in love – your very humanity!

V
PERFECT LOVE CASTS OUT ALL FEAR

God is a mystery of unconditional, self sacrificing, out-flowing Love that leaves no part of self withheld, but casts the whole of self into whatever it gives or expresses. This is the Love that created the universe. This is the Love that conceived you and spoke your soul into existence. The potential to Love in this way is what makes humanity unique in all of God’s creation. It is the hallmark of God’s “image” in us. (Genesis 1:27)

Men and women, however, grew afraid of this Love that is their origin and called them into being. Fear of this Love seeded their hearts with dark suggestions: If I love, what will be in it for me? If I give, how much will I receive in return? If I give too much, will I have enough for myself? If I give all, will I be left with nothing – empty and alone? Here is an example of how fear and these dark suggestions work in you.
You are moved to do something to show your love for your spouse, a close friend or even someone you don’t know well. When you encounter them you find that they are in an irritable mood and are abrupt with you, maybe even rude to you. Fear grips your original good intention, and the resentment that grows from fear whispers to you: “They don’t deserve this. They won’t appreciate it!” You find yourself saying:
“I’m going to give them a taste of their own medicine. I am going to withhold it.” The good that was in you to do is arrested and withheld by the fear that grips you. Resentment is spawned from the fear, and anger flows from the resentment.
But ask yourself: Who really gets punished by not following through with the good you intended to do? Do they? Or do you? The truth is that something dies in you. Something dies in you when you do not follow through with the expression of love you have in mind, and hope dies in the world because an expression of selfless love was not poured out into the world.

The human heart and the human world have grown suspicious and even cynical
of the Love that is God. The Gospel accounts tell us that when people encountered Jesus, most of them drew back in fear – fear of the kind of Love they found in him.
In many this fear transformed itself into malice toward him. They sensed that if they embraced him, this Love would take possession of them and everything would change. They had good reason to believe this, for the only world of human relationship they had ever experienced was constructed on a conditional, contractual love which always looks to its own interests – a love which withdraws itself at the first sign of not being appreciated or gaining some return. Among the clever and the wise of their world, every gift of self calculates the return it will receive on its investment, and this is considered, “the intelligent thing to do” – a mark of sophisticated wisdom found in those “who get ahead” and are successful. In reality it takes a terrible toll, because this fear-based way of loving (and being) leaves a person “dis-eased” in mind, spirit and body – progressively more suspicious and even hostile to others in a way which easily erupts in violence. With every gift of self withheld, with every expression of love withdrawn, a man or woman violates his spiritual nature (the “Image of God” in him). His health of mind and body is weakened and something dies in his soul. It is his humanity.

This fear-distorted way of loving is also toxic to the order of creation, and all the creatures and elements in it. All things in creation are designed to unfold fully, without reservation, according to the pattern of their design and the laws of their nature. Nothing is withheld or withdrawn once given. In contrast, we human beings are inclined to lay hold of things in nature with only our own calculated advantage
in view. We quickly dismiss the integrity of the elements of the natural world and disregard how they are connected to each other in a life-giving way. Violating them
in this way, we use them to achieve the personal gain we have in mind. This has left the created world around us scarred and dying – the air poisoned, the water polluted, the atmosphere weakened, and more and more of the creatures that call our planet “home” facing extinction. Man and woman, who were created to be stewards
of the earth, have become its exploiters. It is not without reason that the Scriptures tell us, “all creation groans and is in agony even until now.” (Romans 8:22) – waiting for the healing and regeneration of humanity. “Indeed the whole created world eagerly awaits the revelation of the sons of God. (Romans 8:19) The good news is that this is possible!

Love had no room for fear;
rather, perfect Love casts out all fear…
1 John 4:18

Those who opened their hearts to Jesus found that the Love that is God which is expressed in Jesus casts out all fear from their hearts, and leaves their minds, bodies and spirits in a healthy harmony. Anger, resentment, bitterness and hostility are swept away. This interior restoration of right order is the first phaseof the regeneration God’s Love accomplishes in a person. It is the work of the Spirit of the Father (the Holy Spirit). The healing continues to unfold and is sustained as long as the soul returns to rest in this Love. Possessed by the Love they receive in Jesus, those who open their hearts to him begin to love boldly and unconditionally simply because it is in them to do (Luke 19:8). They give generously because it is of their true self to do so (Luke 21:1-4). They love without thought of return, and in so loving they find another, truer self in place of the old – a self at peace and able to see the world in true perspective, a self whose joy is in expressing itself outward into the world.
This second phase of regeneration happens closely upon the first. It too is the work
of the Spirit of the Father (the Holy Spirit), Who has taken seat in their soul and inspires them to love as God loves. The result is a human being restored to the Divine image in which she was made – the human spirit regenerated and prepared to embrace the world in all the beauty and goodness it has to offer:

All of us gazing on the Lord’s glory with unveiled faces,
are being transformed from glory to glory
into his very image by the Lord who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:18

We were created to love because it is in us to love, to give because we are moved to give, to do the good because we see the good that can be done – and in all this, never to pay any attention to whether it is abused, appreciated or even noticed.

VI
THE LOVE THAT IS “OF GOD”

This is my commandment:
Love one another as I have loved you. John 15:12

God’s revelation of Himself as a trinity of “Persons” in a relationship of unreserved, self-surrendering Love is of more than theological importance. Fundamentally it asserts that God is not, as most of humanity has assumed, a solitary ego governing
the universe, who creates rules for us to follow in order to win his approval and gain
a reward. Christianity asserts that God is a Mystery of Self-surrendering Love.
In all that God shows us, in all that God asks of us, God seeks to draw us back into
the embrace of the Love which restores the human body, mind and spirit to right order. Then, in the embrace of that Love, we learn to love as we are loved.
There are three dimensions to this Love that is of God:

The Love that is of God
wants to know and honor the integrity of each person,
living creature and element in the natural world.

This is how the Creator loves each element in His creation. This is how the Creator loves us. Although God created us, and our existence is totally dependent upon Him, God does not use or manipulate us. God knows and honors the integrity of our person: our thoughts, our dreams, our fears, our strengths, our weaknesses, and the work we are given to do. Experiencing ourselves so loved by God, we are called to extend this same love to others. And further to extend it to the various creatures and elements in the world around us. The Love that is of God wants to know and honor the integrity
of who another person is: their thoughts, dreams, fears, hopes, strengths, weaknesses, and the work they are called to do. The Love that is of God wants to know and honor the integrity of each creature or element it engages in the natural world.

The Love that is of God
understands and respects the relationship
that each person has with others,
and that each creature and element
has with other creatures and elements in the natural world.

This is how God loves each element in His creation. This is how God loves us. God understands our connection to our family, our friends, and those with whom we work. God understands our need for food, clothing, and shelter, as well as for tenderness and affection, and productive labor. God does not seek to destroy these relationships but to honor them and bring them into right order. Being so loved, we are called to do the same with our fellow human beings, and with the elements of the natural world around us. The Love that is of God never seeks to manipulate or destroy someone’s relationships with others. Rather it seeks to preserve and strengthen them. The Love that is of God wants to understand how each element in the natural world is linked in
a vital way with each other element, and would never act in a way that would threaten or violate this living bond.

The Love that is of God
is moved to contribute constantly
to preserve and enhance the life of each person,
creature or element in the natural world.

This is how God loves each element in His creation. This is how God loves us.
God puts what we need in the path of our experience and understanding. Often it stretches us to see it and lay hold of it. Sometimes we are unable do it alone, and must do it in collaboration with others. In the process we are invited to become more than we have grown accustomed to being. This is by design. Being so loved, we are called to love our fellow human beings, and the creatures and elements of the natural world around us in the same way. The Love that is of God looks for the good in someone
or something. Seeing the good, it is moved (inspired by the Spirit of the Father)
to contribute to it in some way. The Love that is of God never withholds the good
it is moved to do, nor does it withdraw the good once given.

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law and the Prophets.
I have come, not to abolish them, but to fulfill them.
Matthew 5:17-18

This gives us a whole new way of viewing God’s Commandments. Human beings
and the elements of the natural world have an integrity. This integrity commands respect. They also have a created connection to one another that preserves in them
a balance of life and health. This connection commands respect. The same is true
of God. God has an integrity that commands respect. God also has a created connection to every person, creature and element in His creation, as God seeks
to preserve it in a balance of life and health.

The Commandments train us to recognize and honor the integrity of God, and each person and element in the natural world. The Commandments prompt us to grow
in our understanding of and respect for the created relationship that God, every person
and every element in the natural world has with one another. The Commandments urge us to receive the Love God extends to us and to contribute to and enhance the unfolding of the full potential of every person, creature and element we come in contact with. The Commandments provide a path back into right- and life-giving relationship with God, each other, our world and all things in it.

VII
APART FROM ME YOU CAN DO NOTHING

No more than a branch can bear fruit of itself apart from the vine,
can you bear fruit apart from me. John 15:4

The restored life to which the Commandments lead can only be reached if we follow them in the embrace of the Father’s Love and in the company of the One who expresses the Father’s Love for us perfectly: Jesus, our Lord. Otherwise the human heart fails in the effort, and fear again enters in and takes possession of the human spirit. Then we find ourselves using the commandments not as a path to life but as another weapon with which to assault and manipulate others. Jesus says:

He who obeys the commandments he has from me
is the man who loves me. John 14:21

Many people read this Scripture verse to say that keeping Jesus’ commandments proves that you love him. Actually, Jesus is saying (and the original Greek actually says) just the opposite: You have no hope of being able to keep his commandment
to, “love one another as I have loved you,” unless you are in the embrace of his love – unless you are being loved by him. The verse correctly reads: “The one who obeys the commandments he has from me is the one who is being loved by me.”
His message is clear: you have to be loved in order to be able to love.

VIII
LOVE, THEN, CONSISTS OF THIS…

Love, then, consists of this: not that we have loved God,
but that God has loved us…
God’s love was revealed in our midst in this way:
He sent his only Son into the world
that we might have life through him.
1 John 4:10, 9

You will not be able to love any differently than you experience yourself being loved. This is a universal truth about human life. If you don’t know that you are loved by the Source of your Being, if you don’t consciously open yourself up to receive that Love and personally experience it, then there is no way you are going to be able to truly love another or live in harmony with the natural world. You will only fall back into a fear-based way of being in the world and a suspicion-based way of connecting with the people and things in it. Further, you cannot bring your internal world of body, mind and spirit, or the external world of people and things around you back into right order on your own. If you could love rightly on your own, then you would. And if we could engineer our world back into shape on our own, then we would. We have tried again and again, and failed. The problem lies, as God tells us, in the human heart:

More tortuous than all else is the human heart,
Beyond remedy; who can understand it?
I, the Lord, alone probe the mind and test the heart… Jeremiah 17:9-10

Acknowledging this truth lays the heart open to God. This is why authentic Christian life begins with an act of humility: a confession of the utter poverty of our love.
This is also why a confession of the poverty of our love begins Christian worship
at Mass:

Lord, it was the intention of my heart
to express love in a word or action.
I felt Your inspiration to do it!
Then something was said or done
that made me question doing it.
I grew afraid and withheld my love –
and something died within me.
Lord, have mercy!

Lord, I expressed my love in word and act,
and I knew the joy of doing it!
Then something happened
that made me question having done it.
I grew suspicious and withdrew what I offered in love –
and a ray of hope died in the world.
Christ, have mercy!

Perfect Love, You cast out all fear.
Take possession of my soul and set me free
to love as I am loved by You.
Lord, have mercy!

May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us
our sins, and bring us to everlasting life. Amen.

The whole dynamic of Christian worship at Mass is designed to open us up to receive the Love God is offering us in Christ – to be “taken hold of” by it, to be possessed by it.

IX
RECEIVING GOD

As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you.
Live on in my love. John 15:9

A question arises out of these words of Jesus, a question that cuts to the core
of religious faith:

Have you experienced the love of God for you?

Have you experienced the abiding Love of the One Who is the Source of your Being? Have you experienced the Love that pronounced your soul into existence at the moment the seed and the egg came together in the embrace of your father and mother, and the first embryo of your physical existence was formed? With the passing of time many things can draw you distant from this Love. It can happen with the acquisition of things, or prestige, or power. With the passing of the years many things you experience can make you doubt the existence of this Love: disappointment with
your parents or those upon whom you were dependent, abandonment at a point when you were vulnerable, the experience of betrayal in friendship or love. When you look into your heart, how many brooding complaints do you nurse inside you as a result
of these disappointments. Have they not left you cynical about this Love? Isn’t it time to step beyond your cynicism and to come back to center about what is truly most important in life?

God is present everywhere. But to “receive” God’s presence – to become aware of it, to sense its power, to allow it into our being and therefore to permit it to become powerful in us, with us and through us – requires something on our part.

Receiving the Father’s Love

The Father’s Love, the love of your Creator for you personally, is received simply by asking. You find a time and a place to be alone and in quiet. You examine your heart for all the things in which you hoped you would find fulfillment and peace, and all the people from whom you hoped you would receive a love that filled the void within you, and you humbly acknowledge that none of them were sufficient: all of them left your inner spirit, in some measure, restless. You bow your head and let it fall into your hands, and whisper from the depth of your being:

Father, love me! Let your love break through
all of the barriers I have raised against You,
and let me experience your love for me.

Do this often. Be persistent and don’t give up. The barriers we erect to keep God
at a distance and barred from our awareness can be many, not all of them even known
to us. This prayer of longing desire pierces those barriers and God will not fail
to break through.

Receiving Jesus, the Word of the Father

Awareness of the presence of Jesus and knowledge of him is received simply, in two exercises. First, each day read a short portion of one of the Gospel Accounts (Matthew, Mark, Luke or John). Be in a place where you can be alone and it is quiet.
Before you read, pray within you:

Jesus, Word of the Father,
Who are you?
Make yourself known to me!

Read for about two or three minutes. Then pray again:

Jesus, I want to know you.
Make me conscious of your presence near me.
Help me to sense your thoughts speaking to mine.

Second, before as many things as possible that you have to do during the day, pause and consciously pray in your mind:

Jesus, do this with me.
Focus my attention on what is really going on here.
Hold my tongue, and help me to listen.
Prompt me as to what I should say or how I should act.

Do this before as many things as you can. It will soon become a living habit, and awareness of His presence near you in any situation will grow stronger and stronger.

Receiving the Holy Spirit

Like receiving the presence of the Father’s love for you and the presence of Jesus with you, receiving the Holy Spirit is a function of awareness, attention and confidence.

First, pay attention to the prompting of the Holy Spirit within you. These are the little nudges, the spontaneous inspirations, and the more solid convictions that well up within your mind and heart urging you to express affection, voice encouragement,
or do something good or just. You need to know that these are caused by the Spirit
of the Father, the Holy Spirit seated within you. Do not ignore them. Pay attention
to them and move with them: express the love that you are moved to express, even where it may not be welcomed. Do the good that you are moved to do, even when
it will not be appreciated. For a Christian to intentionally ignore these promptings is
a sin of omission, and to push them aside out of anger, resentment or bitterness is
a descent into the old darkness that holds the world in bondage.

Second, stop complaining about people that are dysfunctional and situations that are bad. Instead, in the face of them, do something good, and do it in the name of Jesus.

In the name of Jesus, I offer this word (or act)
to the power of God’s Spirit!

Then watch. Pay attention to the effect that the good you do has on the situation. Perhaps it will appear almost insignificant at first, but study the faces and body language of the people around you. The power of the Holy Spirit has taken up the good you said or did and is at work within them. This is what Peter did when he encountered the cripple on his way into the Temple to pray (see Acts 3:1-8). If you have been complaining about someone or something, go back and say or do something good, and do it in the name of Jesus. If you do this often enough you will begin
to recognize how many powerful ways the Holy Spirit takes up the good that you
do and works with it. You will be amazed. You will grow in confidence that the Spirit of the Father surrounds every good word you say and every good work you
do when you consecrate it to God and His healing will.

X
THE ONE WHO BELIEVES HAS ETERNAL LIFE
John 6:47

May Christ dwell in your hearts through faith,
and may charity be the root and foundation of your life.
Thus you will be able to grasp fully, with all the holy ones,
the height and depth of Christ’s love,
and experience this love which surpasses all knowledge,
so that you may attain to the fullness of God himself.
Ephesians 3:17-19

Faith asks that we believe that the Creator and Source of our Being loves us and that He has entered this world in the person of His Son to express the depth of His love for us. Faith asks that we receive His Love and invite it to take possession of us. Faith asks that we allow His Love to not only work in us but through us – pouring out into lives of those we meet and on to the elements of creation we handle.

Faith asks that we love as we have been loved – never withholding the gift of self God inspires us to give or withdrawing Love’s gift once given. Faith believes that this unreserved gift of self, born out of God’s love for us, always returns to the giver infinitely multiplied. Every act of Love leaves us changed – greater in soul and more deeply in communion with the Source of Our Being and with all things that surround us. Faith believes that every man and woman was created to be such a soul, and can become such a soul. Faith invites every man and woman to do so.

There are in the end three things that last:
Faith, Hope, and Love,
and the greatest of these is Love.
1 Corinthians 13:13

Preface

I give you thanks, O Lord,
that I am fearfully, wonderfully made. Psalm 139:14

In all of the universe that we have thus far been able to view with our sophisticated technology, Earth is the only place where the stuff of creation has achieved conscious awareness, and the ability
to look at itself and talk about what it sees. I am of course talking about you and me – human beings. We are as a whole, and each
of us as individuals is an astounding achievement of creation, unknown at this point to exist anywhere else. We are the only part of creation that can look out and wonder with awe at all the rest
of creation around us. We are the only part of creation that can see the good in something and draw it out so that it can serve the life and the joy of all. We can take a block of wood, fashion a tongue for it, write a song for it, and then sing the song with the wood;
and by so doing draw a whole forest into the song.

The logic behind belief in God is really quite simple. If the stuff
of the universe can produce a creature with the capacities we have, then it is quite reasonable to assume that in the stuff of the universe or behind it is an intelligence that is more than what we are.
And with just a quick look around at the vast expanse of existence, it is quite logical to assume that this intelligence is infinitely more than what we are. What is this intelligence? Who is God?
The question is important because we, along with everything around us, extending to the farthest reaches of what might be,
were fashioned to be a part of the whole by the One Who Is.

“God said…” Is it really so hard to believe that God would reveal something of who God is by speaking? After all, we are the only part of Creation that can ask questions and listen to the answers. God reveals for relationship. Only from God can we learn how
to live in a community of life-giving love with God, with our
fellow human beings, and with the elements of Creation around us.
Only from God can we learn to enter the mystery of being a person.

Father Jim Chelich

The Catholic Faith teaches that…

There is an…order of knowledge, which man
cannot arrive at by his own powers: the order of divine revelation. Through an utterly free decision,
God has revealed Himself and given Himself to man. (Catechism of the Catholic Church #50)

God who reveals Himself and gives Himself to man,
at the same time brings man to superabundant light
as he searches for the ultimate meaning of his life.
(Catechism of the Catholic Church #26)

The invisible God…addresses men and women
as his friends, and moves among them, in order
to invite and receive them into His own company. (Catechism of the Catholic Church #142)

His will was that men and women should have access to the Father,
through Christ, the Word made flesh,
in the Holy Spirit,
and thus become sharers in the divine nature. (Catechism of the Catholic Church #51)