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 brighter—more 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 responsibility—and often a gloomy one at that—to 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 love.


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.

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" feature. You'll also find a complete listing of over 50 "Links for Learners".

Yes—and 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.

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:

Click here to find a cautious—and not the only—approach for finding trustworthy Catholic content:


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:


Stop by 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 reflection:

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."


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:



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 way around.

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


As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions via e-mail:

—Jack Wintz, O.F.M.

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