Intimacy with

Drawing by: Paul G. Yesavage


he Holy Spirit is the hidden self-giving presence of the love within the Holy Trinity. The same personal love that binds God the Father and God the Son together into intimate communion, also binds us into an intimate sharing with the Holy Trinity. Jesus could pour out the fullness of the Holy Spirit of love only after He died, because only in the dying Jesus could we see and understand the infinite love the Father has for all His children.
   The Holy Spirit that the risen Jesus sends by asking His Father in glory is seen as the loving force of God Himself, divinizing all who are open to receive His Gift. This holiness given to us to transform us into heirs of God, true children of God, is the very indwelling of God's Spirit. When the Holy Spirit fills our lives, He penetrates our mind, our thoughts, and our actions with the very life of God; forming us into Christians.
   This indwelling Spirit brings about a new regeneration. Jesus foretold this new birth to Nicodemus when He stressed the necessity of being reborn of water and the Spirit (Jn 3: 5-6). The primary work of the Holy Spirit is to bring us into new life; a life in Jesus which regenerates us into true children of God.
   In the Holy Spirit we experience God's most intimate presence living within us as in His temple. Such a loving presence so immediately experienced as an indwelling love, fills us with a new inner dignity touching all human relationships of body, soul and spirit.
   Through the Holy Spirit we are brought into the very intimacy of the Holy Trinity. The Spirit assures us of our transformed inner beauty through the gift of God's overwhelming, gracious gift of Himself to us. The greatest work of the Holy Spirit is to lead us to intimacy and freedom. In the Second Letter to the Corinthians St. Paul tells us: "The Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. All of us, gazing on the Lord's glory with unveiled faces, are being transformed from glory to glory into His very image by the Lord Who is the Spirit (3: 17-18).
   The Holy Spirit urges us to appreciate His work within us and He also urges us to move outwardly, to discover Jesus in others.
   Intimacy with God begets intimacy; at least the desire that we can become more intimate within the Body of Christ with every person created according to God's own image. The true test of how intimate we are with God is revealed in our love and humble service toward our neighbor. St. John says: "We, for our part, love because He first loved us. If anyone says, 'My love is fixed on God,' yet hates his brother, he is a liar. One who has no love for the brother he has seen cannot love the God he has not seen. The commandment we have from Him is this: whoever loves God must also love his brother" (1Jn 4: 19-21).

Breathing in the Holy Spirit


rom the very first moment that God called us into existence, He is present to us ~ and He will be forever! God touches us at every level. His presence creates us moment after moment.
We tend to think of prayer as complicated. Real prayer is simple. It is like quietly opening a door and slipping into the presence of God. There in the stillness we listen to His voice. perhaps to thank, or petition some favor or seek forgiveness, but mostly to listen, to simply be there and listen to Love. Breathing may be used as an aid in praying. When breathing in, we may pray: "Lord, I breathe in Your breath which is Your Holy Spirit. May He fill every corner of my life with Your Presence." When breathing out, we may pray, "Lord, I breathe out every sin and passion of my life. I breathe out the devil and all his works."
   Sitting silently and meditating, we may use breathing as a very helpful physical aid to prayer:
   I breathe in Christ;   *   I breathe out the devil.
   I breathe in the Holy Spirit;   *   I breathe out every evil spirit.
   I breathe in love;  *   I breathe out hatred.
   I breathe in forgiveness;   *   I breathe out resentment.
   You may wish to try this experiment:
   Make yourself comfortable. Close your eyes and relax. Begin to pay attention to your breathing. Make no effort to change your breathing. Just observe it with simple acceptance of whatever it is doing. Begin to notice the rise and fall of your diaphragm. Be aware of it rising. Be aware of it falling.
   Now as you breathe and the diaphragm rises, say to yourself: "Lord Jesus, Son of God." Then as you breathe out say: "Have mercy on me."
   Do not think about the words. Just let your attention rest gently on them as they repeat themselves over and over again. When your mind begins to wander, let your attention drift back to the words and the breathing: "Lord Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner."
   Practice the presence of God by placing yourself deliberately before God every day. Praying the Jesus Prayer many times during the day with inner attention to each word will attune us to God. For it is by practicing the presence of God that the Presence becomes real.
   "Lord Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner."
   Scientists test every theory in the laboratory. So it is with our Christian faith. Let the last words you utter each night be the Jesus Prayer. Fall asleep with these words on your lips. What better way to end a day than with Jesus? And when you wake in the morning, let the first words you utter be the Jesus Prayer. What better way to greet a new day but with the Holy Spirit praying within us?
   During the day, whether you are talking, walking, sitting, eating or occupied in some way, repeat the Jesus Prayer, or the name of Jesus. Try this experiment and discover the power for yourself.
   Often we have a rather selfish attitude toward God. We expect God to be attentive to our every need, to answer our prayer instantly, to recognize and reward immediately our every good deed. Let us be open every day to thinking of Him and entering into His presence.

Grandma's Lap

ne of Grandma's all time favorite stories was actually a short parable about two men who planted olive trees in their fields. They worked all day to prepare the soil and plant the trees.
   Afterward one of them prayed: "Dear Lord, my trees need water. Please send rain." The showers came! He then petitioned: "They need sunshine." And the Lord bathed them in sunlight! Later, he cried: "Father, my trees need something to make them hardy. Please send a frost tonight." It came, but it killed all the trees.
   The man went to visit the other man's olive tree grove, and found that all of his trees were flourishing. "How can this be?" he asked. The reply came: "When I prayed, I didn't ask God for rain, sunshine or frost. I just said: 'Lord, these are Your trees. You know what they need. Just send what is best for them!'"
   Grandma exhorts us to pray in the same way as did the second man. God knows what is best for us. We need to place our entire lives in His Hands.

A Great Downfall

n the 15th century Constantinople was besieged by the Turks, the soldiers manning the walls sent word for priests and monks to come and walk among them to offer encouragement and spiritual reassurance. The bishops sent word back to the troops that such activity would interrupt their periods of formal prayer and devotion and therefore asked to be excused.
   The much needed blessings and encouragement denied, mighty Constantinople, capital of the Christian Byzantine Empire for 1000 years, fell to the Moslem Turks.
   Attending the Liturgy, receiving the sacraments, praying, studying God's word ~ these are all vital to the Christian life. But if that 's all we do as believers, we are falling short of what God wants us to be. Look around you! Is a fellow Christian struggling? Does someone need your support? Is someone ready to give up because of lack of hope? Is someone faltering in their Christian pilgrimage? Then encourage that person! Speak to them of God's power and remind them of the promises of Christ to be with us always.
   Encouragement is a beautiful gift of God's grace. Pray for everyone but also show them you care. Give them courage.

Keep A Promise


ach day when we open the Sacred Scriptures, the Bible, God's love letter to us, we should memorize at least one verse. Promise yourself that you will carry that verse with you during the day. Make it the controlling thought of the day. Return to it. Cling to it. Live with it all day and fall asleep with that verse at night.
   Carrying the Bible around in our hearts keeps our minds well-stocked with beautiful thoughts from God's word. They can become our daily companions bringing us strength, comfort and inspiration when we need them. These divine promises will come to our assistance when we keep them. They will serve as life preservers when we find ourselves adrift and shipwrecked on the sea of life. "Let the word of Christ, rich as it is, dwell in you" (Col 3: 16).
   In the Sacred Scriptures, we find persons who kept the promise of God's Word. The Psalmist in Psalm 119, verse 11 says: "Within my heart I treasure your promise, that I may not sin against you." The prophet Jeremiah wrote (15: 16): "When I found your words, I devoured them; they became my joy and the happiness of my heart." And in Luke 2: 19 we read how Mary, the Mother of God, "treasured all these things and reflected on them in her heart."

Temples of God


he early Fathers and Mothers of our Church provide us with a good deal of information about their liturgical life; but not much about their private prayer. The reason for this is that these holy ones advised people against speaking about their private prayer; this was their secret hidden work. Even today, many of us have great difficulty sharing with others inspirations we receive in prayer with others. Private prayer ~ this secret, hidden work of the saints of old and of persons seeking wholeness and holiness today ~ is a constant inner conversation with God. God is in the inner temple of our souls and we strive to be in constant communion with Him. This is not an easy task. It is a constant struggle, a spiritual combat against the hostile, demonic powers that seek to divert our attention away from God. A large part of the secret work of the saints was repeating over and over again certain Scriptural verses, entire Psalms in some cases, which the person wished to engrave in memory. In the process of repeating these prayers, either quietly or in a whisper, the thoughts sank not only into the memory but into the depths of the soul as well. In this manner the soul of the person is converted into a temple of God: a holy space where God chooses to dwell, where prayer is offered to God continually. All the saints offer three liturgies to God: first, the liturgy of communal prayer celebrated in the church; secondly, the liturgy of private prayer offered constantly in the chapel of one's heart; and thirdly, the "liturgy after the liturgy," the liturgy that begins when we leave the church and continues throughout the day; the liturgy of love and service to the world performed in the name of Christ.

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