Have you found that special room within yourself? I do not go to mine often enough, but when I do, it is a precious experience—a special gift. You may be far ahead of me.
A room within? What are we talking about? Jesus says, “But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret” (Mt 6:6). The inner room is a figure of speech for your innermost self, your deepest self where you are alone with God. We believe that God dwells within us. At the Last Supper, Jesus said that he and the Father will come and make our home with us.
God is everywhere. We can find God in the vast array of colors in a sunset, the smile of a baby, the majesty of a cascading waterfall, the graceful flight and song of the wren. We can find God in human love and friendship. But we see God not only outside us, but also within us—in our inner room.
Prayer from the Heart
When people “are drawn to think about their real selves,” as it reads in a Vatican II document, “they turn to those deep recesses of their being where God who probes the heart awaits them” (Church in the Modern World 14). God is there awaiting us. The same document describes conscience as “the most secret core and the sanctuary of the human person. There they are alone with God whose voice echoes in their depths” (16). Is that the room within?
Let me back up and acknowledge that there are many kinds of prayer. God is ready to talk to us anytime, anywhere: kneeling before a crucifix, worshiping with our sisters and brothers, or in Holy Communion when Jesus in present within us. In a variety of ways, the Holy Spirit helps us to pray. One way is in our inner room: talking to our Father in secret.
“Contemplation is a mystery in which God reveals himself to us at the very Center of our most intimate self,” Thomas Merton wrote. Some may think that type of prayer is only for monks or nuns or special people. But talking to God in your heart is for everyone. You may be doing it without calling it by a special name.
Opened to Grace
God takes the initiative and is there before us. We need to show up and listen. How we open ourselves may be different for each person. Personally, I need to turn off all the external stimuli—to quiet down and concentrate. I need to be alone and undisturbed. I like silence. There are different methods: asking help of the Holy Spirit, prayerfully reading the Scriptures, repeating the Jesus prayer, paying attention to our breathing.
It is not a selfish prayer. We emerge from our inner room full of love, ready to reach out to others with a visit or phone call, an apology or a prayer. Have you found your inner room? What steps do you take to get there?
God is always waiting.
Dear Friar Jim: Wow! That is all I can say in response to your explanation of hell in your recent E-spiration. “Getting away from God who continues to love us even though we reject him,” is the most powerful explanation of hell I have ever heard. What a wonderful insight you have given me. Thank you and blessings on your work! Trish
A: Dear Trish: It’s good to really understand that hell is not God sending us somewhere. Rather, it is the sinner choosing to turn away from God. Friar Jim
Dear Friar Jim: We need to be reminded that God offers salvation to all, and that Jesus died for everyone. I often think that many Catholics believe we have the inside track when it comes to heaven. I think that it is the choices we make in this life that will determine eternity. As you said so beautifully, when we finally see God, we will see the full truth of our lives. God offers, but we choose. Thanks for all of your inspirational E-spirations! Mary Margaret
A: Dear Mary Margaret: God wants all of us saved. Unfortunately, some religious folks are quick to point at many whom they say God doesn’t love. We must remember that God is love. Friar Jim
Dear Friar Jim: This is a beautiful message. The possibility of reincarnation doesn’t bother me because God’s love will answer all my questions in good time. We dwell in the mystery of God’s love. Lorry
A: Dear Lorry: One way of imaging heaven is an eternity of constant surprises from God for us and all his children. Some say, “It will be boring.” No! It will be an eternity of excitement. Friar Jim
Dear Friar Jim: Thank you for your E-spiration on life after death. I found it illuminating when you wrote that God wants to be with us in eternity, but it is we who turn away. This is a huge comfort for me. Raymond
A: Dear Raymond: God never rejects. The greatest hurt God could suffer is to have his merciful love rejected. Imagine: God made humans free, yet he cannot force anyone to love him. Friar Jim