Interview: “You See Me, You Hear Me”
In the Preface to his new book “You See Me, You Hear Me”, Fr. Michael Giesler writes:
“What an amazing and consoling statement—to think that the infinite God, who made all things and sustains all things, deeply desires that we speak with him and be united to him. He does not want us to lead a lonely life, isolated from his goodness and his love. He wants to communicate with us, and us with him. Yet how many people today really know this, or have seriously thought about it?”
“You See Me, You Hear Me” is a short booklet on prayer for young adults but also for anyone looking for answers about prayer and how to put it into practice in their daily lives. Fr. Giesler, a priest of Opus Dei and a spiritual director to people of all ages, draws inspiration for his latest book from Scripture, the teachings of the Church, St Josemaria Escriva, and other spiritual writers.
We are very pleased to share our recent interview with Fr. Giesler who helped us learn more about his book and also answered some questions about prayer:
Q: What inspired the title of your new book “You See Me, You Hear Me”?
A: The original title of the book was “Online with God”. I knew that many young people have electronic devices and use the social media, with frequent access to the internet and cyberspace. Prayer puts one in a different kind of “space,” so that he or she is always online with God. The publisher of this book (Scepter) however came up with a different title, You see me, you hear me……which I also liked, because it is very personal and even more direct than my original one. They are also the words that Saint Josemaría would use at the beginning his own meditations…so we went with this title.
Q: Why do you think this book is important today? How is it specifically helpful to Young Adults?
A: I wrote it so that young adults could have more perspective. We live in a world of constant changes and developments, where things happen very quickly, to the point that many people seem to have no real direction or focus in their lives. Socially and morally there are so many mixed messages out there. Personal prayer is one of the best ways to obtain much needed focus in our daily life, to keep it, and to refine it continually in God’s presence.
Q: Throughout the book you quote St Josemaria Escriva and draw many ideas about prayer from his teachings and from his own practices. How did you come to know St Josemaria? What do you believe makes St Josemaria a good spiritual guide for us today?
A: I knew Saint Josemaría at first through his words in that wonderful little book The Way, which I read in a center of Opus Dei in Chicago many years ago. The very first point struck me directly: “Don’t let your life be sterile. Blaze a trail….” The other points of The Way, and indeed most of Saint Josemaria’s writings, also stirred me personally, and got me to thinking in ways that I had not thought before. Above all, though I was a practicing Catholic already, I began to think of my life more in terms of God, faith, and charity with others.
When I was privileged to meet him personally in Rome some years later, those points were reinforced by his lively and outgoing personality.
Q: St Josemaria learned many of his prayers as a young boy from his parents, grandparents, and teachers. As adults, how can we continue to benefit from those prayers we learned as children? And, how can parents today instill love for prayer in their children?
A: Yes, I think we should continue to learn from our childhood prayers, and even recite them by heart. I personally love to say the Angel of God prayer that I learned as a boy. Parents are the first and best teachers of prayer for their children…whether that be vocal prayers like the Our Father and Hail Mary, or silent prayer.
One practice that I particularly recommend to parents is to make visits to the Blessed Sacrament with their children. A father or mother could simply say “let’s pay a visit to Jesus”, or “let’s talk to Jesus about this.” At times a parent could even speak out loud his or her personal prayer with the child listening; the boy or girl will always remember that, and begin to understand what personal prayer really is.
Q: In the book, you explain that “St Josemaria never liked to give any fixed method for praying.” However, “He did emphasize complete sincerity with God always, talking to him one-on-one and not remaining anonymous.” What did he mean by not remaining anonymous?
A: Each one of us is a person, made in the image and likeness of God, and redeemed by Jesus Christ. We have specific talents, a family background, and a temperament with good points and defects. Since prayer is intimate communication with God, personal conversation, each person’s prayer will be different. It will never be anonymous. We should not hold back from telling God of our personal struggles, feelings, successes and failures. He loves us and wants to hear from us, and to help us.
If prayer becomes more difficult, St.Josemaría would sometimes recommend the classical method of reading some passage form the Bible or a spiritual book, then reflecting upon it. But we should always be convinced that if our prayer is truly personal, we will be able to develop specific resolutions, affections (feelings of the heart), and inspirations for our daily life.
Q: For many people the thought of praying—spending time with God—can be daunting, including picking up a book like “You See Me, You Hear Me”. What are some of the primary causes for not desiring intimacy with God? What might we be doing wrong if we think we are praying but still feel sadness or cannot see our mission or purpose in life? What can we do to remedy our outlook on prayer?
A: I suppose the real cause for not desiring intimacy with God is the fact of original sin, that spiritual wound inside of every human being, which leads us to think more of ourselves and of worldly things than of God. Our first parents had this intimacy, but lost it through sin; and that fallen nature, or distancing from God, is passed on to all of us. For this reason it is easy to get distracted with our own thoughts or experiences, or to escape into doing “things” rather than speaking with our Creator. It is also the reason that some people find prayer “boring” or “non-fulfilling”.
But the purpose of my book is to invite many people to look at prayer in a different way: if they make time for God, and commit themselves to speaking and listening to Him, they will be truly liberated. The results will surely come to their souls, very positive ones, though at times they may not see them right away, and may even think that they’re still in the dark, or even going backwards.
The main point is to persevere in prayer with faith, humility, and real love.
As St.Josemaría says in the last point of The Way (n.999): “And what is the secret of perseverance? Love. Fall in Love and you will not leave him.”
“You See Me, You Hear Me” is available from Scepter Publishers: www.scepterpublishers.org
This article is intended for the free use of readers, and may not be copied or reproduced without permission from the St. Josemaria Institute (firstname.lastname@example.org). Photo provided courtesy of © Scepter Publishers.
The St. Josemaria Institute was founded in 2006 to promote the life, teachings, and devotion to St. Josemaria Escriva among all men and women who desire to find meaning and happiness in their daily lives by growing closer to God. The St. Josemaria Institute produces and distributes digital and print media as a means to spread Christian values around the world and to help people navigate and live well in the digital age.