Faith

How to Let God Love You

Creating space and prayer time takes work, care and thought

I wrote this poem based on the palpable pain of so many people, who need God to love them, hug them, repair them and console them.

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There are too many weary and tired hearts in our culture today, hearts that are not hearing the knock of Jesus or simply do not want to open the door.

The morning mist moves most mysteriously,
As it carefully calls out, inviting me,
Silently sweeping, whispering and weeping…
Yearning to be one with me…
God gently tapping,
Are you awake or napping?
Will you turn the handle at the door?

I am amazed how every Starbucks in New York City has a substantial line for most of the working day, and there are so many Starbucks! People trying to get their “caffeine fix” and biological jolt to keep going. Yet, there are also so many Catholic churches in the city, yet most are nearly empty during the day.

And yet the men and women who are praying in these churches are the ones who have a noticeable joy and radiance on their faces and in their hearts. God is their “fix” and this touches their core.

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Recently, I gave spiritual direction to a woman who had just finished a “spiritual exercises” weekend retreat. She had a special experience during one of her prayer times where she felt Christ fill her heart with his love, so much so, that she said, “Father Michael, you know how much I love my husband and four kids, but for a few minutes, my heart was so filled with Christ’s love and his warm embrace, that I stopped thinking about them and just basked in the glow of his love. I needed this so much, and now I am refreshed and so grateful to God.”

Related: The Best Forgiveness Prayers

C.S. Lewis wrote in “A Grief Observed,” “If God were a substitute for love, we ought to have lost interest in Him. Who’d bother about substitutes when he has the thing itself? But that isn’t what happens. We both knew we wanted something besides one another — a different kind of something, a quite different kind of want …”

A 28-year-old married man told me something similar: “Father Michael, I love my wife and kids, but my wife and I simply cannot fully satisfy one another’s needs. There is a ‘hole’ that only he can fill, and neither one of us can be truly happy without Christ at the center of our marriage and of our lives.”

Our family would often take long road trips for our summer vacation to places like Miami Beach, Florida, Virginia Beach, Virginia, Toronto, Canada, etc. As a really little kid, I would sleep comfortably in my mom’s lap in the back seat while my older brothers were in the back bucket seat of our station wagon. I felt safe, secure and loved.

Related: The Lifelong Gift of Siblings

When we grow up, more of our time is spent loving others, and there is not enough of this child-like, receptive love in our lives. Pope Francis reminds us, “It is more difficult to let God love us than to love him! The best way to love him in return is to open our hearts and let him love us. Let him draw close to us and feel him close to us. This is really very difficult: letting ourselves be loved by him.

And that is perhaps what we need to ask today in the Mass: “Lord, I want to love you, but teach me the difficult science, the difficult habit of let ting myself be loved by you, to feel you close and feel your tenderness! May the Lord give us this grace.”

Are you creating this space and prayer time for God to love you?  Please, let him in!

Fr. Michael Sliney, LC, is a Catholic priest who is the New York chaplain of the Lumen Institute, an association of business and cultural leaders. 

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