My friends, for a long while I have felt the Lord asking me to share with you how he has been working in my life. It is my hope, that in sharing with you my experiences, you too will understand his profound and particular love for you. As Christians, our main focus in this life ought to be falling in love and staying in love with Jesus Christ our Lord. If we truly understand His love for us, our lives can never be the same; and, they shouldn’t. So, how has the Lord been working in my heart over these last few years? Well, to put it most simply, I discovered the beauty of being a son who was lovable and pleasing to the Heavenly Father, which explains the title of my blog Filius Patris, or, Son of the Father.
I was blessed to go to Saint John Vianney College Seminary the last three years. Never could I have imagined that there I would experience the most profound grace of my life, where a priest, who would become one of my priest heroes (I have three priests who have impacted my life greatly), would teach me that I am a son of the Heavenly Father. To explain the impact he had on my life let me first refer to the musical Les Miserables. Jean Valjean, an ex-con who was unjustly sentenced to years in prison, is unable to find any help from the world and driven to extreme poverty. In desperation, he steals silver from a bishop. To make a long story short, the bishop forgives him and even gives him the silver so that he may have a new start, or another chance to live a normal life. Before the Bishop lets him go, however, he commissions Jean Valjean from that point on to live a life devoted to God and a life of love and service to his neighbor. There is a profound grace here that I do not want to overlook. This scene images our baptism. The bishop claims Jean Valjean’s life for Christ, he, through Jesus Christ, destroys the sins of Jean Valjean’s past, and calls him to a new life in Christ. In such way that Jean Valjean “no longer lives, but Christ lives in him; insofar as he continues on in the flesh, he lives by faith in the Son of God who has loved him and given himself up for him” (Galatians 2:20).
Immediately after this powerful scene, we witness Jean Valjean’s incredible conversion. For me the profound moment of grace comes when he kneels before the cross weeping and says:
Yet why did I allow this man
To touch my soul and teach me love?
He treated me like any other
He gave me his trust
He called me brother
My life he claims for God above.
After this, his life has changed. If you haven’t seen this beautiful musical I will not spoil the ending for you now. What is pertinent here is that Jean Valjean’s life from now on is for God alone. His life has changed, because the bishop treated him with love. Dare I say, the Bishop not only imaged Christ to Valjean, but he was also an image of the Heavenly Father. A father generates new life. That is what the Bishop gave Valjean; a new life rooted in Christ and the knowledge that he was now, and always was, God’s son.
In a similar way, what the Bishop was to Valjean is what I received from Fr. Becker at SJV. He touched my soul in a profound way. He has a gift for affirming men, telling them what they are good at, and helping them realize their worth as beloved sons of God. By his witness and inspiration, he challenged me to lose weight but also to take my spiritual life seriously. Father was constantly reminding me that if I want to be a holy priest, then, I must spend at least an hour every day in front of the Blessed Sacrament. He taught me by his example, how to conform my heart to Jesus, so that Jesus could bring me to the Father. He was a credible witness. In every challenge he gave me, I saw him living it out. When he challenged me to work out every day, I noticed he too was running daily. When he challenged me to take my spiritual life seriously, I saw him praying constantly. When I wanted to slack on academics, I saw him pouring his life out for the seminary. When I was struggling, he was there to talk, listen, and encourage. So, Father Becker, just as the Bishop did for Valjean, touched my soul and taught me love, treated me like any other seminarian, he gave me his trust, he called me son, and he claimed my life for God above.
Father Becker’s impact is by no means small, because he allowed me experience the loving gaze of the heavenly Father. I remember one night at SJV, I was praying the second glorious mystery of the rosary, the Ascension, and asking Jesus to bring me to my Heavenly Father. I wanted to know him, but did not understand yet how the Heavenly Father looked upon me. The lord used a memory of Father Becker, and immediately I saw interiorly how much the Father had been loving me through Fr. Becker and other good and holy priests through out my life. I realized then, at that moment, just how loved I am by my Father. I have never forgotten this moment in prayer. It brought me to tears. I was sobbing, not out of sadness, but because I knew, from that moment on, my life had changed.
I wish, one day, to emulate Fr. Becker as a priest. I hope that those who come in contact with me will feel loved, affirmed, and see how much Jesus wants to change their life by bringing them to His Father. I desire that everyone realizes this truth. When you realize that God the Father loves everything about you, and delights in you, nothing in your life can be the same. Your heart is on fire and finally at rest because it has found the true center. Take a moment and reflect on where your heart is with God right now. Where do you see the Heavenly Father’s love for you? Do you believe that you too are a beloved son/daughter of the Heavenly Father? Are their men in your life that are windows of the Heavenly Father for you? These are important questions to ask yourself because they are fundamental to the Christian life. If for some reason you have not realized his love for you, ask Jesus to bring you to the Heavenly Father. Ask him, beg him, and your life will never be the same. I guarantee it. Remember, always remember, that you “are beloved sons of the father with whom he is well pleased.”
Mk 1:11, Mt 3:17, Lk 3:22