Friday, November 25, 2011

Falling in Love with God

“Nothing is more practical than finding God, that is, than falling in a love in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the mornings, What you will do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything.” -Pedro Arrupe, S.J.

I have reflected on this beautiful quote from a Jesuit Priest throughout my life in the seminary and priesthood. It seems to reappear from time to time and causes me to reflect on my own relationship with God. In some way, everyone desires true love. In fact, at times, the desire is so strong some individuals may seem to simply settle in order to achieve what they believe to be "true love". How true it is that the love of another can seize one's imagination and affect everything. It does indeed determine how we spend our days or what we do with our time. Think about the last time you fell in love. Did you think about the person constantly? Did you look for every moment to have contact with that person? Did you desire to do much for that special one?

As a celibate priest, I often reflect on my own love of God and the Church I serve. So many people often wonder how a person could give up marriage and family for celibate living. Others question a person's true motives. Yet, still others believe it is just not possible. St. Paul reminds us in his letter to the Corinthians that an unmarried man is anxious about how to please the Lord while a married man is anxious about the things of the world, how he may please his wife and he is divided. He further adds the distinction between the unmarried and married woman (1 Cor 7:32-34). Jesus speaks about how some have renounced marriage for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven and cautions that not all can accept this word, but only those to whom that it is granted (Matt 19:11-12).

My purpose for writing upon this was not to defend the celibacy of priests nor to imply that married couples are not anxious about the things of the Lord. My desire was to reflect upon God 's invitation into a relationship of love. No matter ones state in life as a single, married, or ordained person, God invites us into a union of profound love. To find God and to fall more deeply in love with God each new day no matter our calling. To allow God to seize our imagination. To let God be the reason we get out of bed and what we do with our day. Perhaps some may believe, as I have accepted, I have a greater responsibility as a priest to fall in love with God. In fact, the only reason why I may have a greater responsibility is to remind others, just as Christ, that the invitation is not for me alone, rather it is indeed an invitation for us all!

We are about to begin the Season of Advent leading to the greatest gift, the celebration of the Birth of Christ at Christmas. Society tells us to stand in line for the great bargains on Black Friday to get that perfect gift. We also do so much to prepare our homes with Christmas decorations and to plan our Christmas parties. And although we do get caught up in some of those things, may we not forget to do the most important preparation. To prepare our hearts and souls to accept the invitation by God to fall in love. When was the last time we waited in line to get into a Church? When was the last time we prepared our soul with the Sacrament of Reconciliation? When was the last time we gave ourselves as a gift to God as God has given us the greatest gift of His only Son?

My dear friends, as we prepare for Christmas, let us not forget:

Fall in love with God! Stay in love with God! For it will truly decide everything and will for all eternity!