Allow me to clarify what I mean by my "message." It is not primarily about what I say, but how I live. As St. Francis said, "Preach the gospel always, and if you need to, use words." God has called me to lead a simple life devoted to Him. That's why I do not use money, and the only clothes I own are the garments I'm wearing. My only other possession is a prayer book, which I will gladly give if another needs it more. God wants all of us to lead simpler lives, for the more simply we live, the freer we are to receive His love and to share that love with others.
Of course, preaching is also a component of my ministry. When I share the word, I prefer to do so with people directly, whether before a gathering in a field or at a church, or, ideally, one-on-one on the street, for example.
This is the first time I have addressed an audience over the Internet, and I'm uncomfortable with the cold and detached nature of it. Ministering is about listening and sharing, compassion and intimacy. At my talks the most important part is the Q&A, because it allows me to respond to what is on people's hearts. So it seems appropriate that here I share some of the questions I am most frequently asked and to offer my responses. After all, what is God's message if not an answer to life's questions? The peace of the lord be with you.
Do you perform miracles?
People always ask, "Are you Christ." No, I am not. I have a participation with Christ. Do I perform miracles? God performs miracles. He does them through us, and I want to emphasize the word us. As Jesus so often said, "Faith has cured you." And I encourage that. I encourage people to ask from the bottom of their hearts for that deep faith that, Jesus said, even if it's only the size of a mustard seed, can tell a mountain to go into the sea and it will. That's the kind of faith that performs miracles.
What is the greatest challenge to pursuing a spiritual life today?
Simply, it is to overcome that which separates us from God. Ego. Pride. Selfishness. These represent a direction away from God, the one love. And it is a distancing not only from the divine, but from nature and one another. And when this happens we tend to focus on the negative. On things that we don't have. On things that go wrong. The media feeds this negativity-the nightly news is mostly bad news-and it influences our thinking and deepens our separation from God. The divine is absolutely good. Infinitely beautiful. God has nothing but the very best in mind for us, if we are open to receive it.
There are aids that help us such as the scriptures, the rosary, etc. But prayer is a form of desire, it is our intention. We are praying when we speak to God from our hearts. And prayer is so important because it enables us to communicate with somebody who has so much more to offer than we do. And God speaks to us. But so often we can't hear Him because we aren't paying attention. We need to listen for His voice in our conscience.
If God is love, why does He permit suffering?
The mystery of Christ is the mystery of the cross, the divine rooted in suffering. To be human is to suffer. Consider the ultimate evil-our putting to death of God. That is something we all do with our sins. And yet God transformed Christ's innocent suffering into an ultimate good. And somehow all our suffering is tied into that mystery. Through our suffering we participate in Christ's suffering. Paul talked about how we make up for what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ. Not that anything is or was lacking in Christ's suffering, but He's left us room to share in it.
Do angels exist?
Not only do angels exist but they are all around us. And they're involved in our lives far more than we realize. They are our friends, our spiritual friends. They are our counselors. Our protectors. We should take hope in their presence, but more so we need to be in a relationship with them that can be very close and is by no means a deviation from communication with God. We also need to recognize that there are fallen angels, demons. They too are involved in our lives. As Paul says, "we are contending not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of darkness and spiritual wickedness in high places."
Do I need to attend church?
Some say, if God is everywhere then I don't need to pray to Him in a building. I guess that's true, but we do need to pray and worship with others. And if the others are in a building, why not join them there? But I believe we need a more universal, expanded concept of church that concept doesn't have to veer from tradition.
My child has gone astray. What can I do?
I always emphasize prayer. Never underestimate the power of prayer. But parents need to communicate with their children. Avoid judgment. Do something with them they enjoy, maybe an outing in nature. So often children open up when their parents treat them like friends. I encourage parents to ask their kids how they see things, what's important to them, what they want out of life. When these questions are genuine, God's spirit will begin to enter the picture.
Is there eternal life?
There is a heaven, and it is beyond anything we can possibly imagine-eternal happiness and union with God, eternal harmony and peace and with one another. And, yes, there is a hell, and it too is far beyond anything we can, or would want, to imagine. For those that are open, there is an ongoing process of purification. But our ultimate destination is a matter of whether or not we truly believe and embrace the will of God.