I wanted to share with you an inspiring testimony from Bishop Paul S. Loverde of Arlington , Virginia in the United States. The accounts are personal and from the heart. It was part of a pastoral letter, which he wrote on the Feast of Christ the King last November (at the end of the Year of Faith). The pastoral letter was entitled “Go Forth With Hearts on Fire”, and below are extracts taken from the letter in Bishop Loverde’s own words.
“I share with you a very personal experience of Christ which occurred just several years ago, decades into my life as a priest and bishop. Without a doubt, I have understood, accepted, and experienced in many ways the love of Jesus for me precisely as a disciple, priest, and bishop. However, there was always a kind of glass wall in terms of experiencing His love. It was as if I could see Him through the wall, and He could presumably see me, but I did not experience His love to the depth that I so desired. That was not His fault, but mine: somehow, I was not receptive enough.
Then, during a silent eight-day retreat with a group of fellow bishops, the retreat director suggested that I bring these passages from Isaiah before the Lord in lectio divina and prayer:
“Because you are precious In my eyes and honoured, and I love you.
Fear not, I am with you… Do not fear, I have redeemed you.
I have called you by name. You are mine.” (Is 43:2,4-5)
It was during prayer with these texts that the Lord allowed this glass wall to suddenly and unexpectedly shatter! I cannot express in words how profoundly I was touched. I knew without a doubt that He loves me. I was grateful beyond words! I recalled an antiphon from Morning Prayer for the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart: “My son, give me your heart; note carefully the way I point to you.” As a result of His great mercy towards me, I live in a new way, not perfectly and not without all the struggles of daily life, but with an inner conviction that I cannot deny or ever forget. This experience can also be yours!”
And a few final words of encouragement from our last Holy Father along the same theme “Faith is above all a personal, intimate encounter with Jesus, and to experience his closeness, his friendship, his love; only in this way does one learn to know him ever more, and to love and follow him ever more. May this happen to each one of us.” Pope Benedict XVI (General Audience 21/10/09)