DRAWING NEAR TO JESUS
Posted on by Mark
I want to say a heartfelt thanks to all my readers and viewers for your patience (as always) at this time of year when the farm is busy and I also try to sneak in some rest and vacation with my family. Thank you also to those who have offered your prayers and donations for this ministry. I will never have the time to thank everyone personally, but know that I pray for all of you.
WHAT is the purpose of all my writings, webcasts, podcasts, book, albums, etc.? What is my goal in writing about the “signs of the times” and the “end times”? Certainly, it has been to prepare readers for the days which are now at hand. But at the very heart of all this, the goal is ultimately to draw you nearer to Jesus.
Now, it’s true that there are thousands of people who have been awakened through this apostolate. You are now alive to the times we are in and sense the importance of getting your spiritual life in order. This is a gift, a great gift from God. It’s a sign of His love for you… but even more. It’s a signal that the Lord desires to be in complete union with you—as much as a Bridegroom awaits the union with his Bride. After all, the Book of Revelation is precisely about the tribulations that lead to the “wedding feast of the Lamb.” 
But that “wedding” can begin now in your soul, a union with the Lord that truly does change “everything.” The power of Jesus can transform us, yes, but only to the extent that we allow Him to. Knowledge only goes so far. As one friend used to often say, it’s one thing to learn about the technique of swimming; it’s another to dive in and start doing it. So, too, with Our Lord. We may know the facts about His life, be able to recite the Ten Commandments or list the seven Sacraments, etc. But do we know Jesus… or do we just know about Him?
I am writing especially to those of you who think that this message could not possibly be for you. That you have sinned too much in your life; that God could not be bothered with you; that you’re not one of the “special ones” and never could be. Can I tell you something? That’s complete nonsense. But don’t take my word for it.
Let the greatest sinners place their trust in My mercy. They have the right before others to trust in the abyss of My mercy. —Jesus to St. Faustina, Divine Mercy in My Soul, Diary, n. 1146
No, Jesus is always drawing near to the Zacchaeuses, Magdalenes, and Peters; He is always seeking out the hurting and lost, the weak and insufficient. And so, ignore that little voice that says “You are not worthy of His love.” That’s a powerful lie that is engineered precisely to keep you on the fringes of Christ’s Heart… far enough away to still feel Its warmth, sure… but too far to be touched by Its flames and thus encounter the true transforming power of His love.
The flames of mercy are burning Me—clamoring to be spent; I want to keep pouring them out upon souls; souls just don’t want to believe in My goodness. —Jesus to St. Faustina, Divine Mercy in My Soul, Diary, n. 177
Don’t be one of those souls. It doesn’t have to be this way. Today, Jesus is beckoning you to draw near to Him. He’s a true gentleman who respects your free will; thus, God is waiting for your “yes” because you already have His.
Draw near to God and he will draw near to you. (James 4:8)
HOW TO DRAW NEAR TO GOD
How do we draw near to God and what, really, does that mean?
The first thing is to understand what kind of relationship Jesus desires with you. It is encapsulated in these words:
No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends… (John 15:15)
Tell me, among the religions of the world, what God has said this to His creatures? What God has gone so far as to become one of us and even shed His Blood for love of us? So yes, God wishes to be your friend, the best of friends. If you are longing for friendship, for someone who is loyal and faithful, then look no further than your Creator.
In other words, Jesus desires a personal relationship with you—not just a visit every Sunday for an hour. In fact, it is the Catholic Church in her saints that showed us centuries ago (long before Billy Graham) that a personal relationship with God is the essence of Catholicism. Here it is, right in the Catechism:
“Great is the mystery of the faith!” The Church professes this mystery in the Apostles’ Creed and celebrates it in the sacramental liturgy, so that the life of the faithful may be conformed to Christ in the Holy Spirit to the glory of God the Father. This mystery, then, requires that the faithful believe in it, that they celebrate it, and that they live from it in a vital and personal relationship with the living and true God. –Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), 2558
But you know how it is in most of our Catholic churches: people don’t want to stick out, they don’t want to be seen as “that fanatic.” And so, zeal and fervor are actually dissuaded, even mocked, if only on a subconscious level. The status quo is rigorously maintained and the challenge to actually become living saints remains hidden behind dusty statues, visages of what we could never be. Thus, said Pope John Paul II:
Sometimes even Catholics have lost or never had the chance to experience Christ personally: not Christ as a mere ‘paradigm’ or ‘value’, but as the living Lord, ‘the way, and the truth, and the life’. —POPE ST. JOHN PAUL II, L’Osservatore Romano (English Edition of the Vatican Newspaper), March 24, 1993, p.3
And this relationship, he said, begins with a choice:
Conversion means accepting, by a personal decision, the saving sovereignty of Christ and becoming his disciple. —Encyclical Letter: Mission of the Redeemer (1990) 46
Maybe your Catholic faith has been your parent’s decision. Or maybe it’s your wife’s decision that you go to Mass. Or maybe you go to Church out of mere habit, comfort, or a sense of obligation (guilt). But this isn’t relationship; at best, it’s nostalgia.
Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction. —POPE BENEDICT XVI; Encyclical Letter: Deus Caritas Est, “God is Love”; 1
So what does this encounter look like? It begins with an invitation like the one I’m extending to you now. It begins with you knowing that Jesus is waiting for you to draw near. Even now, in the quiet of your room, in the solitude of the trail, in the glow of the sunset, God thirsts to encounter you.
Prayer is the encounter of God’s thirst with ours. God thirsts that we may thirst for him. –Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 2560
It can also start by going to Mass precisely to encounter Jesus. No longer mindlessly putting in an hour but now listening for His voice in the Mass readings; listening for His instruction in the homily; loving Him through the prayers and song (yes, actually singing); and last, seeking Him in the Eucharist as if this is the most important part of your week. And it is, because the Eucharist is truly Him.
At this point, you have to start forgetting what that looks like to others. The fastest way to ice your relationship with Jesus is to worry more about what others think than what He does. Ask yourself this question as you close your eyes, kneel down, and really begin to pray from the heart: are you worried at that moment about what your fellow parishioners are thinking or simply about loving Jesus?
Am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still pleasing men, I should not be a servant of Christ. (Galatians 1:10)
And that brings me to the real crux of how to draw near to God, already hinted at above: prayer. This isn’t something that comes easy to the average Catholic. By this I don’t mean the ability to cite prayers but prayer from the heart where one really pours his or her soul out to God; where there is a vulnerability and trust in God as Father, Jesus as Brother, and the Holy Spirit as Helper. In fact,
Man, himself created in the “image of God” [is] called to a personal relationship with God… prayer is the living relationship of the children of God with their Father… —Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 299, 2565
If Jesus said that He now calls us friends, then your prayer should really reflect that—a kind of exchange of love, even if it’s wordless.
“Contemplative prayer [says St. Teresa of Avila] in my opinion is nothing else than a close sharing between friends; it means taking time frequently to be alone with him who we know loves us.” Contemplative prayer seeks him “whom my soul loves.” It is Jesus, and in him, the Father. We seek him, because to desire him is always the beginning of love, and we seek him in that pure faith which causes us to be born of him and to live in him. —Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 2709
Without prayer, then, there is no relationship with God, there is no spiritual life, just as there is no life in a marriage where the spouses are stone silent toward one another.
Prayer is the life of the new heart.—CCC, n.2697
There is so much more that could be said on prayer but suffice it to say: as you carve out time for supper, carve out time for prayer. In fact, you can miss a meal but you cannot miss prayer for, by it, you draw the sap of the Holy Spirit from the Vine, who is Christ, your life. If you’re not on the Vine, you’re dyin’ (as we say around here).
Last, draw near to Jesus in truth. He is the truth—a truth that sets us free. Therefore, come to Him in brutal honesty. Bare your complete soul to Him: all your shame, pain, and pride (there’s nothing He doesn’t know about you anyway). But when you cling to either sin or cover your wounds, you prevent a true deep and abiding relationship from happening because the relationship has then lost its integrity. Thus, go back to Confession if you haven’t in awhile. Make it part of a regular spiritual regime—at least once a month.
…humility is the foundation of prayer [that is, your personal relationship with Jesus]… Asking forgiveness is the prerequisite for both the Eucharistic Liturgy and personal prayer.—Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 2559, 2631
And remember that His mercy has no limits, despite what you may think of yourself.
Were a soul like a decaying corpse so that from a human standpoint, there would be no [hope of] restoration and everything would already be lost, it is not so with God. The miracle of Divine Mercy restores that soul in full. Oh, how miserable are those who do not take advantage of the miracle of God’s mercy! —Divine Mercy in My Soul, Diary, n. 1448
“…those who go to Confession frequently, and do so with the desire to make progress” will notice the strides that they make in their spiritual lives. “It would be an illusion to seek after holiness, according to the vocation one has received from God, without partaking frequently of this sacrament of conversion and reconciliation.” —POPE JOHN PAUL II, Apostolic Penitentiary conference, March 27th, 2004; catholicculture.org
MOVING FORWARD IN THESE TIMES
There’s a lot of things I’ve written over the years that are sobering. Many of them, I had no idea if they would occur in my lifetime or not… but now I see them unfolding at this present hour. It’s here. The times I’ve written about are here. The question is how we are going to go through them.
The answer is to draw near to Jesus. In that personal relationship with Him, you will find the wisdom and strength necessary for yourself and your family to navigate the thickening darkness around us.
Prayer attends to the grace we need… —CCC, n.2010
These are extraordinary times, beyond anything human history has ever seen. The only way forward is in the Heart of Jesus—not on the fringes, not a “comfortable” distance away, but within. An analogy would be Noah’s ark. He had to be in the Ark, not floating around it; not playing in a life boat at a “safe” distance. He had to be with the Lord, and that meant being in the Ark.
Closely linked to Jesus is His Mother, Mary. Their Hearts are one. But Jesus is God and she is not. Thus, when I speak of being in the Heart of Mary as though it is an Ark and “refuge” for our times, it is the same as being in the Heart of Christ for she is completely His. Thus what is hers becomes His, and if we are hers, then we are His. I urge you then, with all my heart, to have a personal relationship with Momma Mary too. There is no one before or after her who can draw you closer to Jesus more than her… because no other human being was given the role as spiritual mother of the human race.
Mary’s motherhood, which becomes man’s inheritance, is a gift: a gift which Christ himself makes personally to every individual. The Redeemer entrusts Mary to John because he entrusts John to Mary. At the foot of the Cross there begins that special entrusting of humanity to the Mother of Christ, which in the history of the Church has been practiced and expressed in different ways… —POPE JOHN PAUL II, Redemptoris Mater, n. 45
Don’t be afraid to make your Catholic faith real. Forget what other people think and what they’re doing, or not doing. Don’t be like the blind following the blind, a sheep following a shepherdless herd. Be yourself. Be real. Be Christ’s.
He’s waiting for you.
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