St. Ignatius Church Penance Service: “Help us to love, O God, as you love”

(Editor’s note: This is pure Father Richard Mangini. This is why he is so beloved. Love over fear, every time.)

April 2022

I am not a great fan of whipping ourselves to death because we are human beings that fail.

I believe that God is always present to us in our lives, in our hearts, that basically we are good people.

I believe that our first prayer should be: “I love you God with all my heart, help me to be as loving as you are.”

So, what is confession about?  Or perhaps the better question is where do we need reconciliation in our lives?

Do I feel a bit estranged or distant from God or from members in my family?  Do I experience myself as so busy that I do not even think about God very often, as if God is like an after-thought?

So, what tonight can do for us is to put our life and God’s life back together, to become more conscious of our deepest relationship and to let God accompany us.  We don’t have to do life without God, we just need to be a little bit more reflective, to notice God’s presence in our daily lives.  God does not care if we believe in Him.  He is more interested in accompanying us, and our being aware, and a desire to have God with us at this very moment.

Tonight is an opportunity for us to get in touch with where we are in life and where God is in our life.  I think that *there* is where we meet God.

You don’t have to go through some moral codes this evening.  What we need to do is to step more fully, more personally, and more profoundly into our personal relationship with God.  That was and is the entire message of Jesus.  That is how he lived his life.

It is not as difficult to do this as you may think.  It begins with a desire to become more real and closer.  It grows as we reflect and pray.  It just takes a desire and a commitment to let the obvious become more obvious.  “God is love and the person who lives in love, lives in God, and God lives in him.” (1 John 4:16)

So, there is where our spiritual life begins and grows into an eternal life.  

So, what are your sins?  How do you desire or measure them?  In one way or another, everything returns to love, to awareness, to the practice of genuine love.  That is how the great spirit of God lives and works in us.

If you want to love like God does, then you ask God to help you do that.  That could be your morning prayer.

You will be amazed how well your day and life will go if you and God start your day together.

So, I would encourage you to reflect on how authentic your life in the Spirit of Jesus is?  Where in your life could you be more authentic, more loving, more generous, and more faithful?

It all begins by taking the time to be more aware, more thoughtful, more genuine and more holistic.

Through the Prophet Joel, we hear God say this evening: “return to me with your whole heart.”  God is not interested in punishing us.  That was a preoccupation of the Old Testament religion.

Jesus came to teach that God is our Father, is like a most loving and caring grandpa.  Jesus called his Father, Abba (“Papa”).

Our prayer tonight is not “Spare, O Lord, your people”, but “Help us to love, O God, as you love.”

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