Have you fallen in love with Jesus? When – where – how did you fall in love with Jesus? Who is the holiest person in your life – the person with whom you can speak freely and often about your love for Jesus? For me, the answer is: my Grandma.
From the moment of my baptism (she was also my godmother) until the moment she died, she was deeply in love with Jesus and Mary. She lived in the hearts of Jesus and Mary and they lived in her heart. With her unconditional love for me, she nurtured in me my deep love for Jesus and Mary. Praying in silence during the day, loving Jesus, knowing and loving Mary as the Mother of Jesus were a natural part of my Grandma’s life. And she wanted nothing less for my life. During my childhood years, whenever my Grandma went to church, her friends expected that I would be at her side. We went to Mother of Perpetual Help devotions every Tuesday, Stations of the Cross every Friday, May devotions with the Rosary and May Crowning, Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and Benediction, Lenten devotions – and every weekly card party with her lady friends in the church hall! Every day she sat in her special rocking chair and prayed the rosary and many prayers from her black prayer book. Today I have her black prayer book and purple rosary on my prayer table and I consider them my sacred treasures.
I remember the moment I fell in love with Jesus. It was the moment I received my First Holy Communion. My child-size heart was filled with great anticipation as the day drew near – May 2, 1954. Memories of that day are indelibly imprinted upon my heart. I was nervous and excited getting ready that morning, putting on my white dress and veil. Nervous and excited because soon I would be receiving Jesus. (Today I carry in my Bible a picture of me walking in the procession to my front row pew. Every time I gaze upon it I remember and ponder the feelings I was carrying in my heart as I was approaching the most sacred moment.) When it was time to come forward to receive Jesus, I remember the excitement I felt because I loved Jesus so much and now He was going to be inside me. That was the moment I fell in love with Him. The great joy and excitement of that moment filled my heart throughout the day. I can see my Grandma gazing upon me with love and quiet peace. She knew my heart. Together we now shared fully in our love for Jesus. There was a First Communion party with family and relatives sometime during the day but I don’t remember any details.
That day in May was the first time I fell in love with Jesus. Since then I have fallen in love with Him again and again. Years later, as my Grandma was approaching her last moments with me, she asked me to pray that she would soon be with Jesus. Our life together had come around full circle – she gave me to Jesus at my baptism and I gave her to Jesus in her final moments here on earth. My simple child-size heart of many years ago has become a woman-size heart that has been broken, rejected, lonely, affirmed, welcomed, celebrated, healed, yet always filled with the joy, peace, hope and love only Jesus can give. He is my Beloved and I am His beloved. My intimate conversations with Jesus happen now in my daily prayer of imaginative contemplation. With Scripture as the foundation of my spirituality, I enter into the Gospels and imagine myself at the side of Jesus seeing with His eyes, feeling with His heart, speaking to Him from the depths of my heart and listening deeply with my heart as He speaks to me. I am aware of His presence throughout the day and often say His name: “JESUS…JESUS, I love you.”
Today one of the holiest people in my life is Pope Francis. I know I can speak freely with him of my deep love for Jesus because he so freely speaks and writes of his profound love for Jesus. He boldly professes and proclaims: “What is the most important thing? JESUS! JESUS is most important…it would be well each day to say ‘Jesus, you are my one treasure, the path I must follow, the core of my life…you are my ALL!’…Fall in love with Jesus…stay in love with Jesus…the most precious treasure is JESUS.”
Finally, I would like to share my adaptation of a prayer written by Pedro Arrupe, SJ.
“Falling in Love”
Nothing is more practical than falling in love with Jesus.
When you are in love with Him,
Jesus will seize your imagination,
Will decide what will get you out of bed in the mornings,
What you will do with your evenings,
How you spend your weekends,
What you read,
Who you know,
What breaks your heart,
What amazes you with joy and gratitude.
Fall in love with Jesus.
Stay in love with Jesus.
It will decide everything.
Find Jesus and then fall in love
In a quite absolute, final way.
– Sandy Setterlund