Getting to Know God Personally

by Father Martin Pable, OFM Capuchin

After we become aware of our need for God, what may be called our “awakening,” the next movement of spirituality is personal commitment.
We find ourselves saying, though maybe not in so many words, “Lord Jesus, whatever it means, I want to surrender myself to you. I don’t want to live just for myself. I want you to be at the center of my life. I accept your gift of friendship, and I ask you to help me live as you want me to live.”

I fear that the Catholic Church has not sufficiently emphasized this dynamic of personal commitment. Perhaps we have been preoccupied with revising the liturgy, changing church organization, and motivating people to get involved in social justice. These are all necessary, but we have to take care that we do not lose our center.

We all know men who are hard-working, responsible, good family men. They attend Sunday Mass regularly and may even go to confession once or twice a year. But there is no heart, no enthusiasm in their religion. It is like a separate compartment that never spills over into the other compartments of their lives.

They are not involved in their parish, apart from helping to set up booths at the annual festival. Knowledge of their religion remains at the elementary or high school level. They willingly attend courses and workshops to improve themselves on their jobs, but they never think of doing something similar for their Christianity. These men belong to the vast army of “Sunday Catholics,” dutifully plodding along on the road to salvation.

Yet a lot of men are saying, “There’s got to be more.” And they’re right.

Spirituality ought to be energizing and life-enhancing, not a drag. Jesus said, “I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). Men have confided in me some of the wonderful things that began to happen to them when they opened themselves to a personal relationship with God. They came to know God’s presence and love in a new way, a personal way.

“I guess I knew a lot about God,” they say, “but now I know God.”

They experience Jesus Christ as their friend, walking with them, guiding them in their decisions, strengthening them in times of stress. They find it easy to talk to him in prayer. The words of Scripture take on new and personal meaning. Instead of worrying so much about their problems, they feel a deep peace and have confidence in the Lord’s power to help them. Even their limitations and mistakes no longer don’t seem so horren¬dous because they feel loved and accepted in the core of their being.

Excerpted from The Quest for the Male Soul. Copyright ©1996 by Ave Maria Press, Notre Dame, IN 46556, www.avemariapress.com. Used with permission of the publisher.

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