Sunday, April 19, 2015

Growing deeper with Jesus

By Judy Donohue

I pray you are being blessed this Easter Season with new graces to go deeper with God. We are here in the Future of Charity community and friends to support each other in developing our relationship with God and one another. Our relationship with God is mirrored in our relationships with others.  As we spend time with friends and share our thoughts and feelings we get to know each other. As we spend time with God, sharing struggles, prayer requests, and more, we get to know God.  The more time together, the more sharing, the more intimacy.  The less time and sharing, the less intimacy. 

As a candidate with the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, I am contemplating:  What does it mean to love God first? With one's whole being, with all one's heart, mind, body, and soul (Matt 22:37)?  To have God as your partner? To have Jesus as your first love?

In Revelation 2:4, the writer muses, “You have lost the love you had at first."  In today's world, it is easy to get distracted from our heart’s true desires. Just as trouble might brew in a family when a parent gets too busy and loses touch with a spouse or children, communication can break down in our relationship with God.  But God understands.

God gives us the grace to give up all for God's will and reign.  This grace is at the heart of all of our motivations. Knowing that makes us able to do our ministries.  God calls us, and God guides us in living out our call.  Is this not what religious life is all about? Is this not true in the life of every baptized person? 

As we go about spring cleaning in our houses, we declutter to make space.  We can do this in our spiritual lives, too.  It is a lifetime practice to turn from distractions and return to God who is the true center of one's being. Each Lent we are given the opportunity to let God gain more of first place again.  Easter is a great time to rejoice in that gift.

I have always felt a great desire and need to know, love and serve God deeply.  Yet other things creep in: Free cell, Facebook, the news, ministry obligations, family crises, and more. I meet with my spiritual director hopefully once a month and am asked "how is your relationship with God?"  I can respond, “Good.”  Yet I feel the urge to go deeper.

When I am obsessed with the grocery lists of life, I try to remember who gave me life and who is really I charge.  I try to say no to filling the God shaped hole in my heart with excessive activities or false comforts. Prayer time is important.  As I lessen my time spent with God, I soon find judgment, a lack of compassion and even hate creeping into my heart. When I return to seek God, I am granted the grace of understanding, love, acceptance.  As it says in Matthew 6:33, seek first the reign of God and all else falls into place.

May this Easter season fill us with the joy of knowing and turning to God’s constant, loving presence with each of us.  As we grow in love with God, may we grow in love with our brothers and sisters.

As St. Teresa of Avila says, "The true lover loves everywhere and is always thinking of the Beloved."

God bless us as we trudge the road of happy destiny.

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