Heart’s desire is loving and being loved by God Print
Bishop Morlino's Column
Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013 -- 12:00 AM

This column is the bishop's communication with the faithful of the Diocese of Madison. Any wider circulation reaches beyond the intention of the bishop.

Dear Friends,

This past Sunday, Our Holy Father addressed the precise topic on which I’ve been meditating over the past week, the topic of how our encounter with Jesus Christ affects our lives.

As you’ll recall, my previous column had reference to our Diocesan Mission, which is: “We serve to ensure that all individuals throughout the 11-county diocese are graciously invited every day to meet Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, face to face and be changed by Him.”

Pope Francis, in his remarks at the Sunday Angelus, began by asking all of us to consider where it is that our treasure can be found, “what is the most important reality for me, the reality that attracts my heart like a magnet?”

It should be, the Holy Father said, our love of God. He emphasized the reality that where our treasure is, there our heart is found, but that in order to receive true treasure, we need to actually have a heart that desires. “It’s the really poor man, who has no desires,” he said. We have to have hearts that are driven by desire, not ones that are dead or “anesthetized,” by all that we’ve filled our lives with. So, do you desire? And are you ready to seek that which will truly fulfill your desires?

The ways of numbing ourselves are countless — whether drugs and alcohol, money and material items, pleasure or adventure, games and media — and not all are bad in themselves; some are morally neutral, and some even good, but none will ever completely satisfy our desires.

The greatest desire of our hearts is to love and to be loved, and the source and culmination of all love is God Himself. In order to emphasize this point, Pope Francis uses something which is an undeniable good — the family. The Pope considers the person who says, “but, Father, I can’t make relationship with God my most important desire, I have a job, a family. My most important thing is to provide for them.”

Indeed this is important, the Pope admits, “but what is the force that holds the family together? It’s love; and He who sows the love in our hearts is God . . . it is the love of God that gives meaning to small daily tasks and also helps to address the great trials. This is man’s real treasure.”

“And,” the Holy Father continued, “God’s love is not something vague, a generic sentiment; God’s love has a name and a face: Jesus Christ.”

This should be the greatest desire of our hearts — to meet the person of Jesus Christ, the face of love Himself, the face of mercy and forgiveness. When we meet Jesus, when we know Him, and when we love Him, we receive the greatest treasure there is, and we have a desire to do all else based upon that encounter.

Our love for others is also changed, it is transformed into something more selfless — with and like Christ’s love — and we can’t help but to serve others, first and foremost by inviting them to meet this person who has changed our lives so profoundly. Thus, our service to others, whether they be our family members, our neighbors, or strangers, and whether they be materially poor or rich, will be changed completely.

Ordination to the Transitional Diaconate

On Friday, I was blessed with the opportunity of ordaining four men to the Transitional Diaconate. Within the next year, I will be blessed to ordain these four (along with one more) to the Priesthood of Jesus Christ — God willing! For the time being, however, it is the “job” of these four men to enter more fully into the service which characterizes the life of the deacon — the service of charity toward all.

In a special way, the deacon is ordained by the bishop to be his special helper in acting as the servant of all. And how is the deacon to serve? He is to serve by striving to make every act of his more and more a living icon of the person of Christ the servant. This is a service that speaks true charity, true love.

Serving others as Catholics through Christ

Several times now Pope Francis has also spoken of the danger of making the service we give, that of just another “NGO.” An NGO is a “non-governmental organization,” and they are known throughout the world, especially in those parts of the world which are less-fortunate, as entities that are typically trying to help. They try to have some sort of positive effect upon populations and nations, while striving to avoid connections with government officials or political parties. They work, basically, to be non-partisan do-gooder, entities of social work.

It is not that the Pope is trying to be critical of NGOs or social workers — not at all! But what is being said is that the Church is called to be something far greater — the Church is to be a living community animated by Jesus Christ.

When someone meets a worker from an NGO, they may leave with gratitude, saying, “that person was very effective and helpful in doing their job. I’m glad to have met them.” But, when a person meets someone ministering on behalf of the Church, when a person meets one of our deacons, they should say, “that person loved me. There is something greater involved in my encounter with them.” It should be Jesus Christ that they see, in their encounter with us.

These new deacons should be leaders in this service of charity, but it is a service to which every Christian is called. And so, with Pope Francis I ask, do you have a heart that desires? Do you wish to know the fulfillment of your desires?

That fulfillment is to be found in the person of Jesus Christ, risen from the dead. He wishes to know you and to change you, to be more like Him and then to love others in the same way, serving them not simply out of human love, but out of a love that is divine, that is selfless, and self-sacrificing.

Thank you for taking the time to read this, and to consider these questions. Please continue to pray for me and for our newly ordained deacons. May God continue to bless you as we come upon the final days of our summer. Praised be Jesus Christ!