Intentions and Thoughts on Love

15 Dec

“We love because he first loved us. Those who say, “I love God,” and hate their brothers or sisters are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also.” (1 John 4:19-21)

A group I met with last night was given this passage to reflect upon. It, as well as several related verses, have special meaning for me for a number of reasons. Firstly, these verses conclude the Apostle John’s discourse on God defined as Love. John opens this section with the words: “Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God”. (1 John 4:7-8 ) Another part of John’s letter was used by Pope Benedict XVI to open his first encyclical, Deus Caritas Est (God Is Love): “God is love, and those who abide in love abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them”. (1 John 4:16) This last verse is especially significant because of its use of the rarely-employed verb “to abide”. Definitions of this verb that I found include “to remain in one place”, “to dwell or sojourn”, or “to continue to be sure or firm”.

These definitions could all apply to the relationship between God and humankind. God is always with us. We are able to choose God because He first chose us by name as His own. He remains in one place, calling us into loving communion with Him. The call is firm yet patient. Also, if we surrender to God’s call, He will come to dwell within us.

Through prayer, we come to proper discernment of the sure, constant, and patient beckoning of the Lord. We come to know the will of God and to accept it with humility and with joy. Many people, including myself, find prayer difficult many times. It doesn’t help that Advent and Christmas, the time of commemoration of, preparation for, and anticipation of the Lord’s coming, are so busy, but it’s important to take time to pray. Then we will come to realize the depth of the loving essence of God, who gives us the gift of His only Son.

Lately, I’ve been reading a book entitled “Sensing Your Hidden Presence: Toward Intimacy with God” by Ignacio Larrañaga, a Chilean Catholic writer. Larrañaga offers many helpful tips on different ways to pray. In one section, he writes about vocal prayer, meditation on the psalms, spiritual reading, group meditation, community prayer, liturgical prayer, and charismatic prayer. I would need another post (or more than one) to adequately reflect on all these types of prayer. However, I would like to share some quotations from the book that I find particularly profound:

“There may be a time when silence takes over for the words, and there remains only silence and Presence. In that case, remain silent in the Presence. Conclude with some resolution for your life.”

“Let yourself be invaded by the living presence of God, enveloped by the feelings of dread, exaltation, praise, contrition, intimacy, sweetness, or other feelings that fill these words”.

Ignacio Larrañaga implies here that for prayer to have its effect of allowing God who is Love to abide in us, words must be filled out, otherwise they mean nothing. Prayer replaces the need for words. It becomes an act of simply listening to God’s call and then responding to it. This is in line with the instruction of St. Francis of Assisi: “Preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary use words”. When words are not used, it is sufficient just to stand in awe of the Lord and to act in accordance with His supreme benevolence.

This move to discover God’s benevolence and to spread it by our own words and deeds can be found in the Church and her mandate. The early Church was described as a community, by the Greek word “koinonia”. The reading of and reflection on the Word of God would foster this community spirit. Furthermore, the New Testament was written in “koine”- common- Greek.

During last night’s reflection, four ways were listed by which the Church continues to bring about a sense of “koinonia”.

The first is preaching by word. The Greek term for this is “kerygma”. This kind of sharing of faith is done in speech, such as in a group discussion, or in writing, such as in a book on prayer or on a blog…Lord, help us to communicate your Word clearly, using words if necessary but then increasingly yielding to your power and love to fill out and then to replace our words. St. Gabriel the Archangel, Patron Saint of communication, pray for us…

The second is profession by blood, “martyria”. We pray for those who continue to give up their lives for you, O Lord, and for your instrument of faith, hope, and charity on earth, the Church. St. Stephen, first martyr, pray for us…

The third way of advancing the goal of a loving community is by service, “diakonia”. Let us pray for those who serve God in the manifold ways, especially the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI and all those who minister as priests, deacons, bishops, men and women religious, married persons, and single and consecrated single people. Lord, may you bring more people into your service who model Jesus who washed the disciples’ feet. For “the harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” (Mt. 9:37-38 ) St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori, Patron Saint of vocations, pray for us…

Lastly, the fourth way of bringing about loving community is “leiturgia”, common or liturgical prayer. We pray that those who attend Mass or other services may sense the urgency and joy of God’s mission for all. We pray for those who do not believe or do not regularly participate in sacramental observance. May these people come to sense God’s embrace through the insistent and patient welcoming of His Church and all her members. St. Pius X, Servant of the Servants of God, liturgical reformer, and propagator of the Church’s sacramental message, pray for us…

All holy men and women, pray for us…Amen

WRS

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