Saturday, August 4, 2012

The Full Presence of the Lord

Sometimes it takes me a while...

Last weekend we had the wonderful privilege of attending the Defending the Faith Conference at Franciscan University in Steubenville.  It was the first time we attended a conference at Franciscan.  It was the first time we had ever been to the campus.  What an experience it was.  I knew it would be good. I've heard so many talk about how good these are.  But I didn't know it would be this good.

I don't remember how far into the weekend it occurred, but I knew the Lord wanted my attention and to say something to me.  I have gotten into the bad habit of doing most, if not all, of the talking when it comes to prayer.  I am accustomed to thinking of prayer as talking.  But it isn't.  It's conversation, which means it's both talking and listening.  There's to be a dialogue, an exchange.  Prayer actually goes beyond conversation.  It is fundamentally becoming aware of God's presence which is always with us.

Anyway, God began communicating to me.  He was asking me why I am always so angry, so frustrated.  Why do I so often ignore the needs of others and think only of my own?  I knew the answer.  It was because somewhere along the line I stopped loving others.  And why was that?  Because I no longer had a sense of God's love for me.  It isn't that I thought God doesn't love me.  Nor that I was not aware of His presence.  It was simply that I was not thinking about the immensity of God's love for me and therefore I was not able to give it away.  The Lord offered me an opportunity to change all this.  Would I open my heart and let Him come in and impact me to the core, transforming me into a channel of His love?  All I had to do was answer "yes".  I said yes.  He came in and began to work.  He wasted no time.

During the Saturday night Holy Hour I had a revelation of something I have believed for quite some time:  Jesus is fully present in the Eucharist!  I looked at the Lord in the monstrance and thought, "This is not a symbol of Jesus.  It's not like Jesus.  It doesn't even represent Jesus.  It's Him!"  With that came a new dimension in prayer.  All of a sudden I could hear Him speaking to me.  And what He was saying was transforming my life.  We heard from a lot of well known speakers over the weekend and they were all very good.  But the best moment was when I heard from our Lord Himself.

Sometimes it takes me a while.  It's taken me a whole week to record this reflection.  It's taken the better part of a lifetime to really get what many Christians already understand: God loves us, really loves us, and if we let that love pierce us to the core it changes us and enables us to become the means by which the Lord is daily, moment by moment, sharing His love with others through us.

If you ever have an opportunity to attend a conference at Franciscan University of Steubenville, take it!  But even more, the next opportunity you have to be before the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, take it!  Listen to what He says to you.  Let His love pierce your heart.  Then go out transformed by  His presence to be a transforming agent in this world.


Tim Perry said...

Great post,Keith! Your observations are right on.It's easy to forget the simple fact that God loves us so very much!I remind myself several times throughout my day by saying short prayers of thanks and praise. Thank you for sharing.

Joni said...

Love this post, hon. The conference was definitely a life-changing experience.

Mary W said...

I am so very glad that you and Joni got to go to this conference! I didn't realize that you had never been to one. I trust that it helped you to appreciate even more extraordinary treasures we have as Catholics, giving us such incredible access to God Himself in so many ways, as you clearly were convicted in your deeper recognition of Him in the Eucharist. If only all of us in the Catholic Church had the eyes to see what we really have. Might the Holy Spirit lift the veil and set our hearts on fire! (I'm afraid that he might be answering that prayer soon, in the form of purifying persecution!)