Thursday, September 25, 2008
THE GIFT OF GODS LOVE
I hope you and your families are well and at peace.
Since coming back from speaking at a Marian Conference in Arizona, in the United States, I have led two week long missions in Ireland. The first one was in Kilcloon, Co. Meath, and the second was in the Cathedral in Cavan Town, Co. Cavan.
Throughout the mission in Kilcloon, I was giving my testimony in secondary schools during the day, before the evening sessions which began at 8:00 in St. Oliver Plunkett’s Church. On the Tuesday morning of the mission I was invited in to speak to about 200 students in a school in Kilcock. After speaking to the principal for a few minutes and encouraging him to put in as many students as possible, he began to organize for me to speak to the entire school in the gymnasium for a hour. Because of his openness to the Holy Spirit, I was able to speak to the whole school which numbered over 750 young people and share with them the hope and love that Jesus offers them in their lives.
I went on to tell them how it was through the sacrifice of their ancestors, and the blood they had spilled during the penal times that there is a Catholic faith in Ireland. And how not so long ago that their own family members in previous generations made incredible sacrifices, even to the point of risking their lives, to even be able to go to mass and receive Jesus. I reminded them that if they wanted to find out the answers in regards to their faith, they would have to be willing to ask the questions. Finally, I encouraged them to pray everyday, because it is only through prayer that we can come to know Jesus and recognise His voice in our hearts.
On the Tuesday night of the mission, I gave a talk on the gift of God’s Mercy. It was through the grace of making an honest and open confession that I came to experience the great gift of God’s forgiveness in my life, more than 17 years ago. It is always a privilege to have the opportunity to try and lead others to that same gift that I received. After sharing about my own experience in confession, and why it is so important for us to make a new start with God in this sacrament, more than 10 priests took their places around the church to hear the confessions of the more than 600 parishioners who came. It was beautiful to witness people coming back to Jesus as the prodigal son came back to the Father, (Luke Ch. 14 Verse 11) and seeing first-hand the love and forgiveness of God who has always been waiting to embrace his children and shower them with his love.
Later in the week I returned to speak in the secondary school in Maynooth, speaking to the fifth and sixth year classes.
I talked to them about how each of us have a part of our heart that can only be filled and made complete by the love of Jesus, and that in my own life I looked everywhere but Jesus to find something things to fill it. No matter how much money I made as a gangster, how many drugs I took, or how much power I got, I never found satisfaction or fulfilment in my life. There was always emptiness, and if we don’t look to Jesus to fill that void in our hearts, we will never know the joy of what it is to really live and love. At the end of the talk one young lady came up to me and thanked me for what I had said, and went on to say how much she really needed to hear that. I know that if the whole talk was just for her to come to understand that love of God for her, it was all worth it.
The following week, I led the mission that was held in the Cathedral in Cavan town. When I gave my testimony on the Monday night, the church was full up with more than 1,500 people in attendance. Even at the 7 am mass in the morning there was over 250 people who came to support the mission. On the Tuesday night there were 26 priests who heard confessions, for more than two hours. I saw many leaving that sacrament with tears in their eyes and smiles on their faces, as they left their burdens and pain with the Lord, and received the grace of His complete forgiveness for them.
On the Wednesday morning I went to St. Patrick’s College and spoke to the 500 students there, sharing my story and encouraging them to come along to the evening session in the Cathedral. More than 100 students come along to experience the Eucharistic healing service held that night.
The next day after the 10 a.m. mass as people were leaving the church one woman came up to me and shared how much she was enjoying the mission. As she continued to speak, tears formed in her eyes, and she thanked me for what she had received during the week. I could see that she had been touched by God, and from her response of shedding tears, I knew a miracle had happened in her heart.
On the Friday, which was the final night of the mission, dedicated to the Holy Spirit, I went before Jesus in the tabernacle to pray before my talk. As soon as I knelt down, I felt the incredible love of God for me, and I began to cry, as I felt overwhelmed by His love and care. I said to Jesus that I would not be able to speak if he kept filling my heart with his love because it was too much to take. I saw in a new way from that experience that no matter how many years we spend trying to get to know God’s love for us, we will never come to a full understanding of it until we are united with Him in heaven. That is the joy we can carry in our hearts in this life, that when we do meet Him, that love which we can never completely know on earth is ours for eternity. Coming to know the love of God for us, is the most important thing we will ever need to learn in our lives. When we open our hearts to Him, He takes away all fear and anxiety and grants us His peace, and if we listen carefully we can hear His voice, ‘My beautiful child, in whom I am well pleased.’
I will be in Tullamore, Co. Offaly, in the Church of the Assumption from Monday September 29th to October 3rd giving my testimony and talks in the evening at 7:30, and at the morning masses at 7a.m. and 10 a.m. It would be great to see you if you there if you can make it.
I remember you all in my prayers and I thank you for yours.
May God Bless you in His deep love
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Posted by John Pridmore