Friar Jack Muses About Letting God Love You
Last month I received warm e-mails from some of you regarding
the poem, "I See His Blood Upon the Rose," by Joseph
Plunkett. One writer in particular touched me with his gratitude
and even thanked me for being a priest! He went on to tell me
a "Franciscan connection" about Joseph Plunkett:"Probably
you know that Capuchin priests attended Joseph Plunkett and
the other leaders of the Easter Rising before the British executed
them in Kilmainham Prison in Dublin." Thanks to all for
sharing your insights and comments.
This month I'd like to continue in the same vein, reflecting
on how we canmove away from imagining God as a gloomy taskmaster.
The truest image of God is one of abundant love. I wrote about
this in my book, "Lights: Revelations of God's Love,"
a portion of which I would like to share with you now:
In the last half of my life, a gradual illumination has affected
my understanding of God's will. This intuition or insight has
made my soul feel lighter and brightermore joyful.
In my younger years, God's will was something dark and gloomy
for me. I identified it as a whole system of laws and commandments
I was obligated to follow if I wanted to please God and gain
salvation. In those years, when I prayed, "Thy will be
done," in the Our Father, I thought of it mainly in terms
of my responsibilityand often a gloomy one at thatto
obey a set of rules so God would love me.
Today when I think of God's will, it is something very different.
Now the idea nearly glows with light. I think of it, first of
all, as God's loving plan to lead me and all God's people to
healing and happiness. I see God's will today more as Francis
saw it, namely, as God's desire to love us unconditionally and
to lead us to abundance of life. "God's glory," as
St. Irenaeus put it, "is the human being fully alive."
Now when I pray, "Thy will be done," it has a more
joyful ring because God's will or plan is to bring total healing
and life to all those whom God loves. One can only respond gratefully
and lovingly to such a wonderful plan!
In the second half of my musings, at the end of this e-mail,
I'll continue with some thoughts about our response to God's
A VOICE FOR CHILD SLAVES IN HAITI:
He was a child slave in Haiti. Now author and activist Jean-Robert
Cadet speaks out against this practice. Read about his life
and the foundation he established to help these children in
"Haitian Children in Bondage" by Jim Luken.
ACO ENCOURAGES "LINKS FOR LEARNERS"
Did you know that each month ACO provides a free "Links
for Learners" feature on its Web site. Many high school
teachers and youth group leaders have found this to be a valuable
resource for interesting online instruction. Check out this
month's links for the "Haitian Children in Bondage"
also find a complete listing of over 50 "Links for Learners".
A MINISTRY MASSAGE TABLE?
Yesand from an Ursuline sister! "Kneading Relief:
Sister Veronica's Healing Touch" by Elaine M. Berkopec,
O.S.U., explores Sr. Veronica's vision of massage therapy as
a means of bringing a healing touch to her patients' spirits
as well as their bodies. http://www.AmericanCatholic.org/Messenger/Jul2001/Feature2.asp
CAST YOUR VOTE ONLINE:
We would like to know your answer to the following question:
God's steadfast love for me is most manifest in: 1) family,
friends and other loved ones 2) the gift of faith 3) health
or 4) economic security. Take the poll and check results at
"Every Day Catholic" this month:
HOW IS A SURFER TO JUDGE WHAT'S AUTHENTICALLY CATHOLIC?
Click here to find a cautiousand not the onlyapproach
for finding trustworthy Catholic content:
RELAX THIS SUMMER AND BE AN "ARMCHAIR MYSTIC"
Ease into contemplative prayer this summer. The new book Armchair
Mystic: Easing Into Contemplative Prayer begins with
the necessary details of time and place to pray, then presents
the maturation of the prayer life in four stages: Talking at
God, Talking to God, Listening to God and Being With God. Each
chapter begins with an orientation and ends with a concluding
summary. Step-by-step exercises throughout the book provide
concrete examples of how to use the concepts discussed. Click
here to find out more and to order a copy:
CATHOLIC E-GREETINGS FOR SUMMERTIME INSPIRATION
Stop by CatholicGreetings.org this summer and discover six "Lessons
from the Beach" e-greetings that you can send for summertime
inspiration. Let God's gifts from the beach be a source of encouragement:
Click here to read a personal perspective on the recent Cincinnati
unrest and discover Cardinal Francis E. George of Chicago's
pastoral on racism,"Dwell in My Love" for further
"ASK A FRANCISCAN" DEALS WITH MASS BOREDOM:
Father Pat also answers questions about tithing, trusting the
Bible, infant Baptism and the "worst" sin. Click here
to find out his answers this month:
As always, please continue to submit your questions about the Catholic faith to "Ask a Franciscan."
FRIAR JACK'S CHOSEN SITE:
A sophisticated, beautiful and extensive site from the Mennonites
emphasizes ways to make peace at home and in society. Mennonites,
like their Amish cousins, find pacifism St. Francis' "third
way," the truest expression of gospel values. Stop by the
"Third Way Café" to discover more:
CONCLUSION OF FRIAR JACK'S MUSINGS
God's will prompts a joyful response. I still see, of course,
a clear link between God's will and God's commandments, but
these commandments take on their true meaning only AFTER I understand
God's overarching and loving will that I be happy and fully
alive. Obeying God's will is not, first of all, a dreary task
of following lots of rules and piling up good deeds so that
God will think well of me. God already loves me immeasurably
and wishes to save me.
My obeying, my moral task, therefore, is not a matter of bringing
God's love into existence (God's love is already there!), but
rather one of responding to that love. And I respond to it by
joyfully, gratefully and affectionately trying to follow God's
commandments. For they are now seen not as cold disciplinary
rules to burden my spirit, but as loving guidelines for discovering
fullness of life.
Obeying God's will calls for "response-ability" rather
than responsibility. Leading a good moral life is not the CAUSE
of God's loving and saving me, but its CONSEQUENCE. God's gift
of love comes before my task of responding to it, not the other
Don't leave God out of the equation. God desperately wants to
be in a growing love union with us.
Until next month, Peace and all good!
You can find out more about my book, "Lights:
Revelations of God's Goodness," by following this link
to our online catalog.
You can read previous editions of this newsletter at http://www.AmericanCatholic.org/e-News/FriarJack/fj060601.asp.
As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions via e-mail:
Jack Wintz, O.F.M.
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