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Getting to Know Jesus: 10 Ways to Grow Closer to our Lord and Savior

Getting to Know Jesus: 10 Ways to Grow Closer via @ACatholicNewbie

If you want to become holy, be a saint, remain steadfast in your Christian faith, you’ve got to get to know Jesus. I struggled with this early on in my conversion. I felt like I did not know Jesus, that He did not want to know me (why would He want to know lowly ol’ me?) and I was, in fact, intimated by him. I pictured Jesus overthrowing the money-changers’ tables and some of the harsher statements he made. So I was distant.

But soon I realized that if I was going to be a saint — or strive to be — I’d better get to know Jesus!

Here are 10 ways I found that helped me draw closer and truly develop a personal relationship with Jesus, something I believe is crucial to true Christian conversion:

  1. Receive Jesus – Tops on the list of ways to grow closer to Jesus has to be receiving him in the form of the Eucharist. This is a special gift enjoyed by Catholics, whose priests transform ordinary bread and wine into the living God by repeating Jesus’ words at the last supper. When we receive Jesus, we meet Him in the flesh and we literally carry Him with us out into the world. Receive Jesus as often as you can!
  2. Read the Gospels over and over – This tip I attribute to author Matthew Kelly, but it’s a key one. A wonderful way to get to know Jesus better is to read about him and the main place we can do that is through the Gospels. Read them over and over, a little each day, letting Jesus’ words and actions sink in. Kelly, in his book Rediscover Jesus, recommends imagining yourself as different people in the stories to place yourself in the context of what is happening.
  3. Spend time in adoration – In addition to receiving the Eucharist, we can also be in Jesus’ presence by simply being in the presence of the Eucharist. Try to visit your church’s Blessed Sacrament Chapel (where you can always find Jesus in the Eucharist identified by the red candle burning outside the door) or during Adoration where the Blessed Sacrament is exposed versus locked away. Read, pray, write or just sit in the quiet presence of Jesus. Many experience vocational callings and other insights during adoration.
  4. Encounter Him in Reconciliation – Did you know when you go to Reconciliation, you are in the presence of Jesus? Jesus is present in the priest, no matter which priest you see. In Reconciliation, he pours out his mercy upon us, forgiving our sins and giving us graces to help us from sinning again and to grow in holiness. Other than the Eucharist, it’s one of the few places you can encounter Jesus. Go and go often!
  5. Choose a stage of Jesus’ life you can relate to – If you’re like me and struggled feeling close to the Jesus in the Gospels, consider Jesus at a more vulnerable time of life. St. Therese of Liseiux developed a devotion to the infant Jesus. Can you picture Jesus as a tiny baby, cooing in his mother’s arms, nestled close to Mary’s heart? Start there. Talk to the Baby Jesus or Jesus as a youth, working with his father as a carpenter.
  6. Talk to Jesus – How can you really get to know anyone without talking to them regularly? You can read about them, but is that the same as really knowing them? Develop the HABIT of talking to Jesus all day long. Thank Him for the beautiful day, the blue skies and birds singing — for every good thing that happens during your day. Ask for help when you have a decision to make — big or small. Tell Him when you are frustrated, stressed, happy or joyful. He wants you to talk to Him!
  7. Read Jesus Calling – It can be hard, of course, when the person you’re trying to get to know doesn’t talk back to you — in words, at least. I’ve found Jesus Calling, and the version for kids, to be a great way for me and my kids to grow closer to Jesus. The book is a daily reflection where the author puts all of Jesus’ teachings into words, as if He were talking directly to you. It’s helps us, in all our humanness, to hear His words as if they were spoken directly to us.
  8. Read Rediscover Jesus – Author Matthew Kelly of Dynamic Catholic has written a new book with the aim of helping Christians — and all people — develop a personal relationship with Jesus. He does a wonderful job of considering Jesus’ teachings and the example He left us to help us understand how we can live as He desired in the context of our modern society.
  9. Pray the Rosary – Of course, we associate the rosary with Mary, because she’s the one who gave us the prayer, asked us to pray it and it’s filled with Hail Marys. But the Rosary is really about Jesus. If you pray the rosary daily — or as often as you can — you will be meditating day in and day out on the life of Jesus. Each day is a different set of “mysteries” or events in Jesus’ life to meditate upon as you say the prayers of the rosary. You’ll find new insights pour in as you contemplate these events over and over every time you pray the rosary.
  10. Read The Diary of St. Faustina and the Flame of Love (free copy here) – These two books, which are approved by the Catholic Church as communications of Jesus, present a more personal voice of Jesus and can help you relate better to Him. Two passages I bring to mind often while looking at the Cross are His request that Elizabeth Kindelmann call him “my most adorable Jesus” and his request that she imagine herself “nestled close to his merciful heart.” I can certainly picture myself there.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of how to get to know Jesus! Please share what has worked for you and what a difference it has made in your life to have a personal relationship with our Lord and Savior.

Simple Ways to Become More Engaged in Catholicism

Matthew Kelly - CatholicismI am a big fan of Matthew Kelly, a Catholic author, best known for his inspiring “Rediscover Catholicism” book. After hearing someone mention it one day as I was just becoming interest in Catholicism, I sought it out at the library and it really “sold” me! He is around my age (30’s-40’s) and has a very down-to-earth way of making Catholicism relevant to today’s world, even some of the most ancient and seemingly out-of-date practices. You actually can get a free copy of Rediscover Catholicism at his website, which I highly encourage you to do!

I recently read his new book “The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic” and attended one of his seminars in Indianapolis. One of the biggest messages I took from both are simple ways you can become more engaged in Catholicism. Why would you want to do that? Because you will feel better, in turn your family will feel better and ultimately, the world will be better! We have to start with what we each can do. As I quoted from the “YouCat” (Youth Catechism) in a previous post:

“God gives himself to each one of us individually, and he wants to transform us through communion with him. Once we are transformed, we are supposed to transform the world.”

Here are some recommendations from Matthew Kelly that you can slowly start to add into your life to become more engaged:

1) Pray daily – Kelly found that the most engaged Catholics all have a daily prayer routine. He provides a great 10-minute prayer ritual in his book (I made several copies and have them sitting around my house) that includes thanking God for what you’re most grateful for today, reflecting on when you were/weren’t your best self that today, considering any ways God may be talking to you today, praying for anyone you feel called to pray for and concluding with the Our Father.

2) Read the Gospel – He suggests spending 15 minutes a day reading one of the four Gospels for a year. He says keep reading them over and over for a year to help get to know Jesus. Then you can move on to other parts of The Bible.

3) Donate or volunteer – Make a conscious effort to increase the amount of time you give to volunteer work or to increase the amount you donate to your church or charities a little bit each year.

4) Pray the rosary – Try praying the rosary on a regular basis (I am working toward daily). Here’s a great blog post from a fellow blogger on the power of the rosary.

5) Go to confession monthly – No one wants to do this one, but already confession has become a favorite of mine! It’s truly a joy to be forgiven and be handed a clean slate. You’ll be amazed at how it effects your outlook on life and your ability to reel in sinful tendencies.

6) Make Mass more meaningful – Kelly suggests keeping a Mass journal and asking God before each Mass to show you one way you can be a more holy person. Pay attention during Mass to that one message that speaks to you (and it will!) and write it down. Review them periodically and see how well you’ve followed God’s guidance.

7) Read a Catholic book – Try to read 1-2 Catholic books a year. Start with Rediscover Catholicism! Kelly maintains if we all read just one more Catholic book a year what a difference that would make to the church and the world.

Kelly’s “The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic” book aims to encourage Catholics to be more engaged so we can have a more powerful positive effect on the world. If we can just get a few more people engaged at each parish, that could have a huge impact on our country and the world toward goodness and peace.

Get started doing your part by adding one of these simple steps to your daily routine. Keep adding a new one every month or so and let me know how it impacts your life. I am working on this also and will share my progress! Come on, Catholics! Let’s engage the world!

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