Are you experiencing a perceived absence of God, or absence of family, friends, money, hope, love, housing, or work? These real or perceived absences are draining life out of people. Often our heartache is an absence of relationship. The days of close knit large families settled in close proximity to one another have passed. Families are physically, emotionally and often spiritually far from one another. As Pope Benedict suggests, the problem is one of absence — not that God is absent from us, but that we exclude God from our daily life. Separating our hearts from God and living our lives as if He does not exist (even though we profess that He does) is something we may do periodically or most of the time.
As ambassador for Magnificat Ministry over eighteen years, I have traveled throughout America and Europe to speak and pray with hundreds of people including religious and priests. Often times their perception of the absence of God has to do with crowding God out of their lives. God created everything for relationship. Sometimes our desire for relationship causes us to enter into disordered relationships that deliver more harm than good. If our experience is one of harmful relationships we can lose sight of godly, healthy relationships. Often we sabotage godly relationships by erecting protective walls that limit our ability to love or be loved.
Jesus desires an intimate relationship with his people but He infinitely respects personal free will. A relationship takes two and it takes time. God never neglects us but if we neglect our relationship with Him, it will seem like he is neglecting us when the opposite is true. Most people I prayed with are truly longing for another way of relating to God, neighbor and self. There is too much broken- heartedness due to absence. People bring to prayer the most gut-wrenching family situations. The intentions of most young people are tragic as they relate their home life to me. One main obstacle to communion, relationship or intimacy is woundedness due to trauma, personal sin or sins against us. Our wounds are healed when we connect deeply and continuously to the Triune Love of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. When a person perceives the absence of God, the reaction is often anger and anxiety. Absence, anger, and anxiety can lead to loss of authentic Christian freedom. People feel entrapped, dissatisfied with themselves and others — even God. In the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius we are taught the aim of the exercise is to make us free for God. We need absolution to be free for Divine Love.
The confession (or disclosure) of sins, even from a simply human point of view, frees us and facilitates our reconciliation with others. Through such an admission man looks squarely at the sins he is guilty of, takes responsibility for them, and thereby opens himself again to God and to the communion of the Church in order to make a new future possible (CCC#1455, emphasis mine).
The confession of sin, especially exposing unforgivness, is a key to healing of wounds and deliverance from evil influences. As part of a diocesan team, I attend the annual conference on healing and deliverance at Mundelein Seminary, Chicago. Conference speaker, Father Denis McManus stated that the sacrament of confession takes care of the moral life while Eucharistic Adoration takes care of the spiritual life. He recommended a spiritual classic entitled, Confession, by Adrienne von Speyr. Adrienne wrote:
Confession no doubt seemed to be a lifesaver thrown to me from the ship of the Church, as the special institution for sinners. The one who has confessed knows that he has received something the Lord purchased for him through his suffering. He will remember that baptism marked him as one who belongs to Christ and that his sin has clouded and even concealed that mark. Confession has now caused his baptismal innocence to shine once again.
Every day I fall short of agape charity, if not in my actions, then in my thoughts. The sacrament of confession is an integral part of keeping ourselves free for loving relationship with God and others, even those who hurt us. The Holy Spirit urges our growth in maturity in the sacrament of confession. If self knowledge has not developed past the catechesis of grammar school, there is a need to grow. How? A person should invoke with great ardor the Holy Spirit’s help to discern personal culpability in the imperfection of virtue. The Spirit reveals the truth while upholding our dignity.
In praying with others (and in my personal experience also) I have found tha if a relationship is disordered (not life-giving) it is because it is not Christo-centric. A relationship takes two, but two things are often bound together by a third thing. Jesus is the catalytic glue to healthy relationships. Jesus must be at the center our lives and loves. Adoration focuses us on Christ’s abiding presence.
Regarding the wonderful blessing of Adoration, the great Pope John Paul II explained:
“We wish to see Jesus” (Jn 12:21). This request, addressed to the Apostle Philip by some Greeks who had made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the Passover, echoes spiritually in our ears. Like those pilgrims of two thousand years ago, the men and women of our own day — often perhaps unconsciously– ask believers not only to “speak” of Christ, but in a certain sense to “show” him to them. Our witness, however, would be hopelessly inadequate if we ourselves had not first contemplated his face. Our gaze is more than ever firmly set on the face of the Lord. Adoration of the Divine Sacrament shows us Jesus.
Adoration is a remedy for our perceived absence of God in a culture tempted to succumb to the dictatorship of relativism. In truth, we are perplexed as to how to defend the revealed truth of God; we do not know how to pray, nor do we know how to love selflessly. The good news is that God made a provision for this. God’s provision is that Jesus remains with us in the Church, in the Most August Sacrament of the Altar, in the Tabernacle, in the Monstrance. Our Jesus remains with us — in loving relationship that always whispers to the human heart: I thirst for you.
Since God condescends to remain in the humble species of bread, when we look upon him in the Sacred Host are we not called to humble ourselves and confess our longing to experience Perfect Love? We have a Holy Face, a Sacred Heart, a pierced Body, and Precious Blood to contemplate. In prayer, the healing love of Jesus makes us a new creation. With the Church we echo the words of the pilgrims arriving at Jerusalem for the Passover, “We wish to see Jesus!” In the Song of Solomon, our Divine Lover says, “Arise, my beloved, my beautiful one, and come! Let me see you, let me hear your voice, for your voice is sweet, and you are lovely (Sg 2:13-14). We wish to see Jesus and He wishes to see us! Let us drink deeply of God’s healing love and be set free of the tyranny of sin and fear.