Four years ago, on a men’s retreat, I heard for the first time that it was MY job to be the face of God the Father to my children and to be the means by which my wife would know that the Father loved her without reserve.
Whoa! I had never heard of – or even considered – this responsibility before. Yet in the time that it took to reflect upon whether or not I was living up to this seemingly-impossible call, I was already aware of my own inadequacy and the many ways in which I knew I had failed to represent the Father’s love to those entrusted to my care.
What does it mean to reveal the face of God the Father to the world? As a father and husband, how does this call translate into the concrete everyday as I interact with my children and wife?
The truth was, despite calling God my “Father” in prayer, I didn’t actually have a personal relationship with Him and didn’t even know where I was supposed to start!
Ok, that was four years ago. Thanks be to God (the Father), my questions in this regard have, in the main, been resolved. How? Thanks to generous people who introduced me to the Father by the example of their own lives, but also by way of reading excellent books like 33 days to Greater Glory.
Fr Gaitley’s latest book is all about God the Father and so if the experience I described above resonates with you, then this book is certainly for you.
Fr Gaitley is well-known in Catholic circles, especially in the Mariological sphere. An earlier book similarly entitled, 33 Days to Morning Glory, often comes packaged with a sticker indicating the two million copies of said book already in circulation.
I’m not sure if its sequel, 33 Days to Merciful Love fared as well, but I can personally vouch for its excellence in continuing the spiritually formative journey which its forebear introduced.
33 days to Greater Glory is the third in this particular triptych and is the culmination of Fr Gaitley’s series of Trinitarian introductions. The first book seeks to help us enter a relationship with the Holy Spirit acting through Our Lady.
The second focuses on a relationship with Jesus via the Divine Mercy message and St Therese’s Little Way.
This third book, takes us into a relationship with the Father by way of an exploration of Jesus’ own relationship with the Father as set out in the Gospel of John. Fr Gaitley explains what 33 Days to Greater Glory entails in his 15-page introduction.
This is one section that the reader should not skip as it reveals the motivation for the book being written in the first place and the ‘how’ of completing the ‘Total Consecration to the Father’ which Fr Gaitley is inviting the reader to undertake over the course of 33 days.
The book is divided into 33 daily meditations. The first seven days introduce the reader to the persons that they will encounter in their reading of St John’s Gospel.
Maybe surprisingly, we meet first with Moses, and then, not so surprisingly, with John the Baptist, the disciples, Nicodemus, the Jews and then two key women who unlock for us through the brokenness of life the reason Jesus actually came: to reveal the Father.
The second week of meditations digs deep into the meaning of St John’s seven signs commencing with the Marriage at Cana and concluding with the raising of Lazarus.
This latter sign sheds a new light on the relationship between Jesus and Lazarus and presents a new perspective on why Jesus may have loved him in a ‘special way’.
The reader, by this stage, will be becoming familiar with the manner by which Fr Gaitley continues to dig deeper into how each action, healing, or emotion associated with the ministry and life of Jesus reveals in a new way the love the Father has for each of us.
This is the touchstone St John’s Gospel is drawing us to, and from which we continue to move forwards.
The third week brings us to the Upper Room and the Farewell Discourse where we enter into the very heart of the communion between the Father and the Son and are reminded most explicitly of the invitation extended, to enter into this most personal of relationships by virtue of our Baptism.
In the Upper Room Jesus reminds us that our true home is in the “Father’s house” and that there, in this communion of love between the Father and the Son, we find our eternal end.
This invitation to intimate union in Trinitarian Love, takes us all the way to the Cross, where in the fourth week of meditations, we hear and ponder the reality of what this Love entails and what we are being invited into; mercy and a total giving of self in love.
We hear it in Jesus’ words; “Father forgive them” and “Father into your hands I commend my Spirit”.
We also hear it in the words, which bridge these two exclamations, “I thirst”.
Fr Gaitley here connects what he calls the greatest passage in all of Scripture with the “I thirst” of Jesus on the cross.
The greatest passage, for him, at least, is: “Father, I desire that they also, whom thou hast given me, may be with me where I am, to behold my glory”. (17:24)
In His “thirst” Jesus reveals the glory the Father has given Him, this total giving of self for the life of the world, and it is here that he desires us to join Him also.
Here we see the glorious love of the Father revealed in the Person of Jesus and it is in this perfection of Love, that we are called to participate in order to be filled with the healing grace and mercy, which flows from the open side of Christ.
Fr Gaitley closes the 33 days with a synthesis of the previous four weeks in preparation for the Total Consecration to the Father.
Each of the final five days invites us into a deeper reflection on the daily meditations already worked through.
It is here that we as beloved sons and daughters are invited to look up and embrace the unconditional love of the Father as Jesus experienced it.
Just as the Father spoke of his Beloved Son at His baptism and Transfiguration, so the Father gazes down on us and repeats to us personally these same words.
It is for us to look up and most importantly, receive into our very being, this filial affirmation of love and to see and know the face of “Our Father” in heaven.
In turn, we are called to radiate the Father’s face to those we love and encounter each day in our own families and again, to those we meet in the world around us.
33 Days to Greater Glory: A Total Consecration to the Father Through Jesus Based on the Gospel of John by Gaitley, Michael E, MIC, Paperback. $29.95 from mustardseed.org.au.