Getting Closer to God

This post was written by Michael Loria

I believe as a Christian, I am on a journey to bring myself closer to God and to seek his love and mercy. Christianity needs to be viewed as a way of life and as a journey.

Our God is in Heaven and the Son of God is at his right side. God is also omnipresent which means he is present everywhere. He is in this room while I am writing this and he is in the room where you are reading this. He is also in our hearts and souls thanks to the sacrifice that Jesus made almost 2000 years ago and also for our baptism. We cannot ask God to get any closer to us than he already has. It is not a matter of bringing God closer to us but a matter of bringing us closer to God. Our God that made the entire universe, knows our whole hearts and everything about us and loves us beyond compare. It is time to consider how we reciprocate this love.

Praying with your whole heart is a great start for getting closer to God. I have found myself mindlessly saying the Lord’s prayer so many times before. We need to be praying with our whole hearts. Slowdown when you pray and take in every word and think about the meaning of everything you are saying. The Lord’s prayer is beautiful and sacred and needs to be recited with that respect. Make your own prayers that are from your heart. Remember A.C.T.S. when you pray. A is for adoration of God, C is for Confession to God, T is for thanksgiving to God, and S is for supplication(asking) to God. Pray before every meal and pray when you wake up and before you sleep. If you are already doing this, then consider how you can do it a little better. This journey we are on requires moving forward and getting closer to our goal of bringing ourselves closer to God. Prayer is essential to getting closer to God. God is incomprehensible because he is too awesome to understand his essence. We can know God by his energy and divine light and prayer is how we get closer to his energy and light.

Fasting is also very important. In scriptures, Jesus does not say, “if you fast”, he says “When you fast” (Matthew 6:16). In the Orthodox religion, we practice a vegan diet to cleanse our physical bodies and eat like Adam and Eve ate before the Fall of man. Our goal in this world is to get ourselves as close as possible to how we were before we disobeyed God and got removed from the Garden. We should be spending our whole lives trying to get back to the garden. Fasting also provides discipline and control of our physical bodies. To reach the state of perfection before the fall is impossible to do on our own and this is why Jesus had done what he did at the cross. I believe that we are still expected to show we are worthy of his tremendous gift by doing all we can on our own. We need to show our worthiness out of love for our God. The best definition for love I ever found is “doing the will of the other”. Christ prayed to the father at Gethsemane and said let it be your will and not my will. God is pure love and this was a display of the love between the son and the father. We can also show our love to our God by doing his will.

God’s will is very clear. Our God walked among us as one of us. His ministry on Earth is a perfect example of how we should strive to be. He gave us the greatest commandments which are to love God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind and also love your neighbor as yourself. In my opinion, there is no way greater way to show love to God than through how we treat one another. We glorify and honor God when we do this. We need to forgive if we wish to be forgiven and how we treat our neighbor is how we shall be treated. God is in every single human being and how we treat our neighbor is how we are treating God.

Last but not least is that we need to cut back and/or eliminate the things that have no eternal value. This is Especially true for the things that are opposite of how we should be living as Christians. This world is full of ungodly things and as Christians, we are living in enemy territory. At least take some time away from worldy things and give all your attention to God.

I thank you for taking the time to read this and your comments are most welcomed. I wish you many blessings in your own journey.

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My 2013 March for Life Experience

I want to share my experience that started at 6 PM on 1/24/2013 and ended at 6 AM on 1/26/2013. In just 36 hours, I traveled on a bus from Trenton, Michigan to Washington DC, spent 12 hours in DC, and then returned to Trenton, Michigan. This was an adventure that I experienced with my 15 year old daughter and her classmates.
This experience began around 6 PM Thursday evening when we both boarded a bus headed for DC. We arrived near DC at the university of Maryland around 6 AM Friday morning for a rally and a Catholic mass. We were one of the first arrivals and we were seated in a near empty stadium. This stadium began filling up with youths from all over the united states. A very inspirational band began to play and a very inspirational youth director would provide words of inspiration between songs. I witnessed thousands of joyful youths praising and honoring God through there gestures,their clapping, and singing. When the mass Began, I saw a procession of Arch Bishops, Bishops, and hundreds of priests from all over the nation fill the arena to give worship to our God. Communion would be provided to every youth in the stadium and my daughter and I would receive communion from an Arch Bishop. Seeing all these Men of God reach out to every soul was like witnessing God’s army on Earth. I tell you I have felt the presence of the Holy Spirit in my life many times. This was one of the strongest feelings. It was overwhelming. After the mass, we boarded a train to take us to the Washington monument for the rally and the march.
The thousands of youths now became mingled with hundreds of thousands of people. We listened to some of the most heartfelt speeches and saw people breaking down in tears as they shared their testimonies. I then witnessed hundreds of thousands of people become organized into a very large procession to begin the march on to the Supreme Court. I saw so many different faiths all praying out loud in their own special ways. I got the sense of feeling that they had thoroughly prepared themselves for this moment and each group was working like a unit in prayer. I
After the rally, we had just a few hours to visit some museums and then we boarded the bus for home around 630 PM. This was an amazing experience that I recommend for all Christian families to experience at least once.

May God Bless you always and thank you for taking the time to read my blog.

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Roman Catholic Good Friday 2013

The pilgrimage for myself and my daughter Julia has ended and now I am left with wonderful memories. We had a perfect drive to Cincinnati which we started at 6 AM. We saw the sky begin to light up and the rising of the sun. We found some perfect and fitting music to listen to as we drove.
JuliaCreationMuseum
Stop 1: The Creation Museum was very nice and I really appreciated a presentation on the Resurrection. Very fitting given the day.

MikeDeadSeaScrolls
Stop 2: The Dead Sea Scrolls was my favorite part of the trip. We were not allowed to take any pictures of the scrolls but there was many artifacts from the same time period(see picture). These were just as important to me as the scrolls and I greatly appreciate the 1000s of hours that archaeologists have spent to bring these artifacts back to existence. I had a spiritually moving feeling as I walked through these artifacts and the scrolls. I was in the presence of objects and writings that were created and in use at the same time that God walked the Earth as man.

Orphanage
Stop 3: We then visited Saint Joseph’s Orphanage where our Aunt Caroline lived for 1 year when she was 6 years old. Unfortunately we could not get in because it is a holiday and no one was at the front desk. We did get some pictures to take and also found out that this might not be the original orphanage where she stayed since they moved sometime ago. We will need to do more research and try to get more details for our next visit. May God bless those children and may they find the love of God and family they so rightfully deserve.

PrayingOnSteps2
Stop 4: After the orphanage, we visited the “praying on the steps”. This is a 140 year old tradition of the Roman Catholics that is done every good Friday (http://2011.hciparish.org/?page_id=147). There was a very long line just to make it to the steps and we did not get an opportunity to make it to the steps. It was still well worth the visit and very inspiring to see so many Christians calmly and quietly saying a prayer on each step and to see so many waiting patiently for their turn. Since these were all my planning and direction, it was now Julia’s turn to choose the next activity.

CheesecakeFactory1
Julia has always wanted to dine at a Cheesecake factory which we found not too far from Cincinnati. Through God’s grace and strength, I was able to maintain the Orthodox Lenten fast but temptation certainly was there. We had a very nice meal, walk around a mall for a while, and then we checked into our Hotel.
Our plan for today is to visit an outlet mall on the way home (my incentive to Julia for putting up with me) and then get home in time for the Vigil Mass at Good Shepherd. Joseph Loria and I will be providing the annual bonfire through the Boy Scouts for the lighting of the candles. Last year we started the fire too early and consumed all the wood we had. When the people and the priest came out, the fire was but a tiny flame and I was so worried that it would be out before the Priest had lit the main ceremonial candle. As the Priest said the vigil prayer, Joseph and I watched with astonishment as the flame began to rise and the fire became full blown again. We looked at each other and knew that help and assistance had been sent to us. May God bless you all on these days that are recognized by so many as the most important celebration of the year.

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