by Ken Rolheiser
Three step guide to commune with God

Saints Bernard and Bonaventure suggest three steps to approach God. The first is Mother Mary, who intercedes for us; the second is Jesus, who redeems us, and the third is God the Father who made us. We can access other intercessors like the Saints.

In the beginning God created us and walked with Adam and Eve in Eden. Then sin messed things up, and mediators, like the prophets, became a more effective way to communicate with God. God’s love never wavered. 

Eventually God’s set in motion the incarnation through the Holy Spirit. Now we had more ways and guides back to the Father. God’s unwavering love is evident in the many stories of the Old Testament. 

Sometimes God sent an angel, as in Shadrack, Meshach and Abednego in the fiery furnace. Or the visit from God in Abraham and Sarah’s love story, setting the line of succession to the Saviour. Always God’s loving hand was visible. 

The greatest story of love in the Bible can be summed up in the wonderful verse of John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” And here we have a God who loves us and is approachable.

Jesus is love incarnate. Jesus is directly approachable and as God he is all powerful. Take the example of Dismas on the cross. This outlaw merely asked: “Jesus, remember me when you came into your kingdom.” “Today you will be with me in Paradise,” Jesus replied.

But we are on the earth, treading it with our feet. We are often not as near to Jesus or the Father as we should be. We have a human Mother Mary who is approachable and will never let us down. 

The Saints say, "It has never been said, since the world began, that anyone had recourse to the Blessed Virgin with confidence and perseverance, and was turned away." Her access to God is powerful. Jesus is always won over by the loving prayers of His most dear Mother. 

And why is this? Mary carried Jesus in her womb, below her heart, for nine months. She cared for him in Nazareth for thirty years. He never refused her requests, even when it was inconvenient as at the wedding feast at Cana.

Sometimes Mary’s contemporaries cried out about this great bond: “Blessed be the womb that bore thee and the breasts that nursed thee.” (Luke 11:27.) And Mary stood by the cross of Christ and followed him and his disciples after the Resurrection.

Mary is our greatest recourse to Jesus and God’s love. Mary is still active around the world in the many apparitions and pleas she makes for repentance and prayer. Mary never abandons us. 

Witness a sign in the Notre Dame fire of 2019. During the fire a huge vault above her statue fell on Mary. But the stones lay about her feet. She stayed. Jesus wants us to love and respect Mary. For this reason most Catholic churches have a side altar devoted to Mary.

Approaching God is simple. The Saints and Mary intercede for us. God, Abba, waits for us like a Father. We can turn to Jesus, our Shepherd who longs to share our burdens, or to the Holy Spirit who is in our hearts as love.

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