Wednesday, January 11, 2017

God’s love: Our primary motivation

In silent prayer we encounter the unconditional love of God.  Regardless of who we are, where we have been, or what we have done, silence reveals to us a loving presence that accepts us where we are right now.  The reason, I believe, that so many people do not experience this love, is because they have not traveled deeply into their own heart.  Most of us live on the surface of life, accepting its shadows, illusions and noise as the sum total of all that life has to offer.  Silence takes us deeper, beyond the masks and all that is temporary, and reveals to each one of us the love of God.  To discover the love of God is the very purpose of our life.  What could be more important than this?  After all, everything else passes away, but His love “endures forever.” (Ps 136)  Fortunately, one does not have to travel far to encounter this love, it is inside our own hearts if only we can learn to be still.  Regardless of our situation and circumstances, “God’s love has been poured into our hearts.”(Rms 5:5)  What each one of us has to do, and what is really the work of silent prayer, is to open ourselves to that love, surrender to it and allow it to be the foundation of our lives.

It should be no surprise that the fruits of silent prayer are the fruits of the Holy Spirit; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, fidelity, gentleness and self-control.(Gal 5:22-23)  When we open ourselves to God, the love of God revealed in these fruits, becomes a part of our life.  Instead of reacting to life from a place of fear and anxiety, a quiet awareness begins to emerge from within, and we no longer need to live as victims of our own emotions or those of others.  This transformation, of course, does not happen immediately.  Gradually, as we pray in silence each day, the love of God will reveal itself in ever-greater depths.

Perhaps there will be a time when someone will ask you, “Why do you sit in silence?”  The answer will come, not from a book, but from the depths of your heart. “I sit in silence because God is in love with me, and by spending time with Him in silence, I am falling more in love with God.”

+ Fr. Jeremiah Shryock, CFR