Praying with Msgr. John Esseff

Praying with Msgr. John Esseff


Msgr. John A. Esseff, a Roman Cathoic priest in the Diocese of Scranton, was ordained on May 30th 1953, by the late Bishop William J. Hafey, D.D. at St. Peter’s Cathedral in Scranton, PA. Msgr. Esseff has served as a retreat director and confessor to St. Mother Teresa and the Missionarys of Charity. Msgr. Esseff encountered St. Padre Pio who would become a Spiritual Father to him.



FMD: This is Fr. Michael Denk with the Prodigal Father, and I’m very pleased to introduce you all to Monseigneur Esseff.  Monseigneur, could you introduce yourself to us and tell us a little about your background?


MJE:  My name is Monseigneur John Esseff.  I am 88 years old.  As a priest, I’ve been ordained 63 years, and next May I will be 64 years as a Priest.  I was born in 1928 and I was just so happy to have been Baptized on the day I was born.  My Grandfather was a married Deacon.  When I was born, he came to my mother and said, “What did you have?”  She said, “I had a baby boy.”  He said, “What are you going to call him?” There was a big discussion about my name, but my name eventually was John.  I should have been named, because of my traditions, George.  George was the name of my Grandfather, and I was the first son, and my father was the first son, so I should have been named after my Grandfather.  But my Father insisted that my name be George. My brother eventually got that name.  So I am really proud of that name.  I am John Essef born that day, baptized on that day, and so wonderful to have been, at that time, presented to the Lord in Baptism.  My parents took me down and had me Baptized at a Maronite Church. The Maronites are very powerful Eastern Rite group of Catholics, and so my family was introduced into their Rite, one of the earliest Rites in Catholicism.  My parents are very proud of that.  I was into that Tradition, Baptized in the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit the day I was born.  I was born on June 13th, 1928.  I was presented to the priest, Father Cory who baptized me in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. I’m sad to say that no one ever told me the significance of Baptism for many years.  I was very much involved in the Church from the moment I was born. I knew that I always wanted to be a Priest.  I really did.  At 3 years old, I remember, the lady across the street from us, Eleanor Novak, a very clear memory of the incident – “What are you going to be when you grow up, John?” No one ever asked me, but I had already thought about it for a long time, and I was only 3.  “I’m going to be a Priest,” at which she laughed.  I thought “Well, she doesn’t think I really thought about this.”, but I had thought about it.  I’m 3, and I know, through the experiences I had already with the Almighty, I was already in me.  I’ll never forget so many incidents of God in my life. You know, little children, the Almighty is in your life, you don’t have to be big, you can just be little. God was in my life, and I remember seeing God make the world. I remember all kinds of things.  From very early on, early, early memories of God, because he’s my Father.


FMD:  What did you see when you were little?


MJE:  Many things.  I saw God once making the world, and I remember waiting to try and find someone who would tell me about that.  When I was just 3 years old, I saw God making the world.  I was on my Grandfather’s farm, and when I looked out the window, this creation was taking place.  I saw God making the world and I know that I put my little elbows up on the window, and I was looking out and I said “Oh, my God!  Look at this! “So I ran and woke my brother up – he was just 2.  “George, look what God is doing!”  He came to the window – he said “What the heck did you wake me up for?” So I ran downstairs and I said to my Grandmother, “Grandma, look what God is doing!”  She didn’t see it – she said “Come on and have breakfast.”  I saw God making the world, but no one takes the memory of a child away.  It was there and I remember trying to tell different people throughout my life what I saw there.  I remember this High School teacher I had.  I said “Here’s what I saw.”  She couldn’t tell me. But Doc Harvey, he was the Doctor of Philosophy, he taught me Philosophy at St. Mary’s in Baltimore.  He said “Oh yeah, here’s what you saw,” and he pointed right to the chapter and the verse of St. Thomas Aquinas in the Summa Theologica: it was God creating the world.  It was being and becoming.  That’s what I saw.  I saw the becoming at 3.  Oh my goodness, and when I read it, that was exactly what I saw.  What St. Thomas described, in the Summa Theologica, I saw it as an openness to God and God can do anything to anyone that He wants to. So I remember, yeah exactly what I saw.  He described it to me, wanted to reveal it to me.  I’ve had many experiences at 5 or 5-1/2.  I was walking with my friend Bobby Tippin and he was telling me (and I remember this so clearly), he lived next door to us at the other end 13 Prospect Street.  He said, “You know, my Father made that house.” And I said very, very clearly, “My Father made that mountain” and I knew that God made that mountain.  Everyone thought I was nuts but I really, really believed it.  I lived in _____________ and there use to be this mountain that I would look at as God’s mountain because every day I would see my God who made the trees and He made the seeds that would fall from the trees. Oh God you made those trees and oh God you made those seeds.  Oh God you made this.  I saw my Father every day,


I was educated away.  It was terrible.  My family destroyed me.  They destroyed me with corruption because there was puss.  I didn’t know that I was Jesus seeing this as my father.  My Aunt Sarah told me that Protestants are going to hell.  So I believed it.  Too bad.  I made such bad terrible mistakes.  I became corrupted.  A corruption of the world around me.  And it was worse.  Racism – blacks, whites and all kinds of divisions.  The church was corrupt.  The church didn’t teach me a blessed thing about the unity of Jesus.  One time in 1943 Pius the XII wrote “Mystici Corporis Christi (June 29, 1943).  I went to Catholic University in 1949 and five of us seminarians sat down and we read Mystici Corporis.  As I read it you know of St. Paul, “We are one body, we are one Christ”.  That we are the body of Christ.  That the whole world was in corruption and only one came into the world, Jesus, to save the world.  Nobody ever taught me that.  No priest ever said that on the pulpit.  God came down from heaven and took the earth and became man.  I learned that from Pius XII and as I read that I thought, oh my goodness, I am the body of Christ.  All those years I was so messed up.  So my eyes were opened to truth and then I thought, I am Jesus in the church today.  That it’s not the past that’s going to save the world.  I. . .  He’s in me.  I was for the first time awakened to Christ living in the world today through me!  My parents never told me that.


So I ran home at Christmas time and couldn’t wait until I got there.  To Dad, “Do you know who you are?”  Mom.  I had to save my parents and I kept after them because they were as dumb, this is true, as I was.  I kept knocking and hammering at their door, “You are Christ in the world.  That’s who you are.  You are Jesus.”  I think my dad thought I was a nut for a while and so did my mother but hey gradually came around.  They were sweet.  They loved me as a body in this world but then they began to see truth in what I was saying.  Their eyes were being opened.  It happened especially when my sister died a lot of things began to suffer in their lives as their eyes became open to prayer, to the truth, to God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit being in us that we are the first tabernacle.  Love.  I believe they are good people but they didn’t realize “Dad, you are Jesus; Mom, you are Jesus; you are Christ in the world.  I read Ephesians the 5th chapter, the body of Christ, marriage, husbands and wives, brothers and sisters.  I read it to my two sisters and my two brothers and to the extend we could they became educated in the church.


I was ordained in 1953 and probably my most important story is my mother who helped me understand what I had said to her.  She said back to me in her experience with Jesus because Jesus came to her in a rising vision.  One day before my ordination I had come and I said “Mom, how is my ordination thing going?”  She said “I have to tell you this story.”  And she told this until the day she died – I saw Jesus come to me because I had begged to be able to love Him more and He came to me in a rising vision.  I first saw his pierced feet, then I saw His flowing white robe.  He held up His pierced hands then I saw his Sacred Heart and as this vision rose I saw his shoulders and I saw your father’s face.  What does this mean? – I said “Mom, perfect answer to your prayer, how can I love You more?  Love your husband.”  How in marriage love is between a husband and wife.  You are so close to me, this is how intimate we are.  I love you so much you see, I love you.  Joe is your husband and these children of yours aren’t as dear as your husband.  Love him first and when you love him you are going to choose them.  I don’t know how good a job she did with that, but I do know we have an awful lot of married people


FMD:  She saw Jesus but she saw the face of her husband?


MJE:  Yes, that’s what she saw in answer to her prayer.  Until the day she died she said that’s what she saw.


FMD:  What was her prayer?


MJE:  I want to love you more.  Please Lord let me love you more and He said “Love him.  You can’t love Me unless you love him.”  So prayer will bring us always to the deepest truth.  It brought my mother, it brought my father and mother to this deep truth.  I just remember the love that my father had for his daughter disoriented because when he found out she was going to die he didn’t tell anybody.  He never told anybody until she almost was dead.  My sister was going to die they found out that she had Hodgkin’s disease and he thought he’d take all the burden himself.  Disoriented love.


He never told my mother that she was going to lose her daughter.  He never told my sister that she was going to die.  A week before she died he told me and said that he wanted me to tell her.  So my father was a great man but what kind of death and dying is that?  Anyway, I helped her to process the death and dying.


FMD:  Did she not even know?


MJE: No, she never knew, I told her.  She wanted me to marry her.  She thought she had fallen in love with this boy and she said “John will you marry me?”  And I never forget that night and I said “I can’t.”  She said “Would you marry me when I finish high school?”  She was only 18.  She had fallen in love with this boy from Pittsburgh.  I said “I can’t marry you.”  She said “Why?”  I said “Because you’re going to die and I don’t know why you’re still living.”  When I told her this she screamed crying and I cried.  We both cried terribly.  I prepared her and I anointed her.  I wanted to prepare her to die because I didn’t know if she’d be dead before I came back.  Her birthday was the 24th and when I came back to see her again, she was indeed dying.  She was a few days away from death.  Her birthday was on the 24th of June and she died on the 29th.  She said St. Peter told me he would let me in.  I want to die but she said I never told you this (I’d had a heart attack three years before) and she had never said this to anybody.  She said “When I heard that you could die, I went to St. Anthony’s church and I said to Jesus, “Jesus take my life, save his” and that’s when she got this disease. I’m not sure if God does things that way but He gave her three years of Hodgkin’s disease to terminate her life.  “Take my life and give him his.”  A terrible prayer but I think God heard, I really do.  I really believe He took her life.  See when someone loves you, they would give their life.  Miss guided love, maybe, but God heard prayer and God took her life.  I’d had a heart attack and that’s why she said that.  I’ve never had a heart attack or heart trouble since.  I’m 88 years old that was ’65 when she died.


FMD:  You introduced me to a Latin phrase earlier that was something about sharing contemplative experience, what was that phrase?


MJE: Contemplativa – To share what you have contemplated with others.


Vita contemplativa simpliciter est melior quam activa quae occupatur circa corporales actus, sed vita activa secundum quam aliquis praedicando et docendo contemplata aliis tradit, est perfectior quam vita quae solum contemplatur, quia talis vita praesupponit abundantiam contemplationis. Et ideo Christus talem vitam elegit (Summa theologiae, III, q. 40, a. 1, ad 2).


(Translation: “the contemplative life is, absolutely speaking, more perfect than the active life, because the latter is taken up with bodily actions: yet that form of active life in which a man, by preaching and teaching, delivers to others the fruits of his contemplation, is more perfect than the life that stops at contemplation, because such a life is built on an abundance of contemplation, and consequently such was the life chosen by Christ.”)


FMD: I think that’s what we are getting to experience that now.  Thank you for that Monsignor.  If you look back over your life, what was some of those different moments for your contemplation shifted or burdened with into Christ?


MJE:  I think I would say in my plane crash when I in August of 1968, I was over the host and I said to Jesus “I would love to experience what you’re going through.”  I was at Mass during the Feast of the Assumption and I said to Jesus “All I want to do if you would share with me you’re pain.”  As often as I said to my sister “Don’t ever ask for that” I myself prayed for that, I prayed that.  It was like it just came up to pray and I prayed and I got it.  Off the altar, I took off my vestments and I went down to the airport, got on a plane and I was taking off to my next mission.  I flew that plane and I was in a plane crash.  The plane crashed at 12 o’clock because I looked up at the dashboard and it was 12 o’clock when the plane crashed.  There was this tremendous equatorial heat so I was suffering terribly and I had this terrible pain in my shoulder.  Some Cappuccinos came and saw me.  The plane didn’t burn but my head went through the dashboard and came back and it looked like I had a crown of thorns because I was all bloody.  I looked at the dashboard and it was 12 o’clock.  They said that they wanted to take me but I said “Don’t touch me” because I had such pain in my shoulder.  So they said “What can we do for you?”  I said “I’m thirsty.”  So they gave me something to drink and it was so bitter, I spit it out.  I remember that so clearly.  A certain plane came and picked us up and I was flown back to the Hospitaly Impura and I was in such pain from that plane crash.  I was in tremendous pain and I was begging, begging for some kind of relief and they said, “How much money do you have?” because they wouldn’t give me a shot unless I paid them.  I had to give them money for the shot and I reached back I remember and I took out my wallet and then gave them the 400 Soleis they asked for the shot.  Then they gave me the shot.  I looked up at the clock and it was 3 o’clock when I had relief from that intense pain.  I still have, in my shoulder, some damage from that which always reminds me of that.  That was a huge thing for me that Jesus every time every priest offers Mass, that Jesus every time every Christian offers Mass is crucified – carries the cross.  I think I was allowed to touch – that’s what I asked Him for.  Let me experience Your pain for you Lord.  I wasn’t part of the deal.  I was just a little bit of God wanted me to experience.  That’s very significant for me.  He answers your prayer always.  Always.


FMD:  What is your advice to someone who wants to learn how to pray?


MJE:  Be careful what you ask for.  Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you to what you ask for but don’t be afraid because God has a plan for each of us and He sees everything about you and wants you to be fulfilled in every part of yourself.  He has a plan.  One of the scriptures that always has touched me is Jeremiah 29:11-14 that I have a plan for you right from the moment that you’re born and I want to put through that plan and my plan for you is love.  If you will let me do with you what I have planned for you, you will be fulfilled not to be afraid.  That whatever suffering, pain that you have to go through in order to fulfill that, do not be afraid.


FMD:  How often, someone that has been praying all their life, finds a block.  People often say to me “I don’t hear God.”


MJE:  I would say ask God to help you listen.  I think it’s not so much that He’s not speaking to you it’s that you’re not listening.  When we’re not hearing God it’s because the noise around us is so terrible and you yourself have been so in the noise.  The devil wants to create a lot of confusion to _____________ hearing this but God wants to talk to you and sometimes He has a hard time getting us in a place and a situation where we listen.  I would ask each one who is listening, who wants to hear God, why don’t you take the time for silence for a retreat for solitude to listen to God.  So many of us are afraid of the silence.  Be alone with God.  We are afraid of solitude.  We are terrified of silence.  As we go into the silence and the solitude you will always hear.


FMD:  Can you explain or articulate what the Father is like for you, what the Son is like, what the Holy Spirit is like, how would you describe your relationship with them.


MJE:  Each of us, if you’re a Catholic Christian, or if you’re Protestant or Baptist you’ve been baptized into the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, God is a journey.  God is your father, you are his child.  Man or woman, you are his daughter or his son so as you listen He wants so much to talk to you and loves you.  The most unheard truth about the gospel is the divine love.  I don’t care what you’ve done or who you are or where you are God loves you.  Where you are, who you are in any circumstances there’s nothing you could do to escape the divine love.  He knows you, He created everything about you and there’s nothing you can tell God that He doesn’t know and so infatuated and crazy as He is about you He sends, and this is absolutely amazing, His only son, His only son to become one of our human nature, Jesus, to become one of us, to become a half animal for us.  Can you imagine God the relationship between a human and a bug is less than the relationship between God and you.  But God so loved us that He sent his only begotten Son to become a human and His name is Jesus.  He suffered and died and rose for me, for you and when you begin to experience a taste of that love that is not only being fed that Jesus suffered and died and rose for me.  Then He went back to heaven, He didn’t just directly touch you, He went back and do you know what He did?  He sent the Holy Spirit and for you who are baptized He became one with you.  He became Jesus for you.  That’s who you are.  So when the Father looks at you, He doesn’t see you anymore, He sees His Son.  That’s the love of God.  In prayer, the Trinity, is so essential to our prayer.  This God of ours is a Father and His Son is Jesus and the Spirit has come upon you to transform you into Jesus.  That’s who you are.  You have become Jesus.  So in this transformation that you are, whatever you’ve done at any age like alcohol, drugs, pornography.  What is that, what is that that you’ve done that is so bad?  He looks at you and sees you and loves you with infinite love never letting you go.  Pursuing just with love.  Our God wants you to know, “I love you.”  So many people fail to recognize the simple truth:  God loves me.  I am his son, his daughter and He loves me as I am and whatever screw up I have done, anything at all, He sees me, He knows it all.  God loves you and He wants as I am.  So when you cry out to him He’s always there, 24/7, day or night, your whole life.  He’s been there whatever age you are, I am 88, I have loved you ever since that seed fertilized an egg and I blew into you that soul.  That’s who you are to me.  I love you and I keep you, you are mine.  You’re precious to me.  That’s who I am. I am your God and you are mine and you are precious to me.


FMD:  What is your relationship like with Mary?


MJE:  Well, to the whole world she was a Jewish girl and she read all the prophets.  She read all the history. She knew Moses she knew everybody.  Abraham, the whole story.  Mary knew the whole script so she knew all that was coming down the pipe.  So when the angel came to her, she’s finally realized her time finally came.  There is only one that is faithful.  When God came to her, she suddenly realized that God kept saying “There will be another _________.  There will be another ________.  There will be someone who will remain faithful.”  That was her.  But how did He make her.  He created her immaculately.  She was conceived with Joachim and Ann had relations, they were the grandparents of Jesus.  When they had relations right form the first second of her conception, she was conceived immaculate.  She had a pure nature.  So Mary, she’s the _________.  God had promised there would be another __________ and that was it.  She was it.  She was conceived immaculate from the moment of her conception because she was going to be in anticipation or our savior, her flesh to the Son of man.  When at 14 God approaches her, He says “I want you to be the mother of my Son.”  Then she had this perfect nature, human nature, to give to the divine Son and that’s what happened with her.


My love of Mary is her receptivity.  What she learned – she’s the only one who had this or our whole human nature.  “Be it done to me according to your word.”  No one ever said that to God the way she did.  All of us keep crumbling and I know when God asks me for something – well maybe and then eventually I give in.  All of us sin before we say yes.  She just simply said yes.  All of us now in Christ have the power to say yes because of her.  She is the one who said this through Jesus Christ so that she’s like the doorway.  She was the one to whom we went and she’s our mother of eternal life.


FMD:  Is she real to you?


MJE:  Oh yes, very real.


FMD:  Talk a little about that for someone that may not experience Mary as being a real presence.  What is that like?


MJE:  I remember Mother Teresa use to say to me “Why don’t you consecrate yourself to the Blessed Mother?” I’d say that I really had a big devotion to Jesus.  Jesus is my Savior.  So I just resisted all that for a long, long time.  She kept saying, “John Paul II totally consecrated himself to Mary.”  I said “Mother, I love Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ loves me.  He’s my Savior.  I don’t have to go to her.”  She kept after me and here’s what happened to me.  This is a true story.


At her canonization, I never consecrated myself to Mary.  But there I was at the Beatification of Mother Teresa in 2005, and here’s this old pope, slurping and he’s just moving and she kept telling me that he gave himself totally to Mary.  Now here she is on the Vatican wall Beatified.  I thought, now here you are John Esseff what the hell have you done to get close to Jesus?  Why don’t you just give in to Mary?  That came to me at her Beatification.  I said, OK Mary, you can take over everything in me.  I know now there’s probably no better way to do it.  I have done it my way, now I want to do it your way and I meant it.  I give everything over to you, all of my graces, all of my strengths, all of my virtues.  I am a priest and I don’t have a lot but I gave it to her.  It was such a transformation, almost amazed that I did that.  I began to see Jesus in an entire new light.  It was like I saw Him through the eyes of His mother.  Who loves you more than I do?  Mary.  I began to see everything about Him in an entirely new way.  The way she would look at Him I was beginning to see.  The way she would listen to the events of His life I began to slowly become aware of.  It was like I began to see the Son of God through the eyes of His mother.  It was an entirely new vision like she gave me a new lens just to look at Him, to look at Jesus and when she gave me that she gave me how she saw because that’s who I am.  That’s who I am to her.


FMD:  How did she seem?


MJE:  Tenderly, sweet, gentle.  I thought I had to be taught to be her son as I am a warrior type.  No, that’s not really who he is.  He is like a child, sick, humble.  As I began to grow in this awareness.  I remember one day right after this I was giving a retreat right outside of Baltimore, a retreat to the newly ordained and I was getting a cold.  I just demonstrate what I mean.  My God, I’m getting a sore throat and when I get a sore throat I’m going to get a terrible cold.  That’s what happens.  It’s always been like that.


FMD:  How will you get?


MJE:  A terrible cold that’s what happens.  It’s always been that way.  So, I’m getting a sore throat and I went to the rectory and I said “Do you have any medication here for flu symptoms?”  They said “No, we don’t have any.”  So I realized I had nothing there that I could get.  So then I said to Mary “Mary, what would you recommend?” Because now I’d had this familiarity.  She said “John, why don’t you go on home with water and salt.”  And then I thought of something my mother would do when I was a little boy.  So it was easy to get salt, easy to get warm water and I gargle four or five times and honestly the sore throat just disappeared.  So the sore throat disappeared and I got up to get ready two or three days later and I’m shaving and then I say to Mary, “Mary you know I hate shaving, is there something you can do about this?  I cut myself and sometimes my hand shakes so and I cut myself.  Can you help me with this?”  She said to me “Oh John, I really don’t know much about shaving.  My men never shaved.”  I said “What do you mean by that Mary?”  She said “Well, why don’t you just let your beard grow?”  That’s when I started to grow a beard.  Now it’s called my Marian beard.  I never had a beard before and that’s how I started a beard.  My beard always reminds me of Mary.  So people say “Did you always have a beard?”  When I got my devotion to Mary, I thought Jesus and Joseph always had beards so it brought me close to that relationship but the relationship is human.  Simple, it’s so simple.  It’s a relationship, she’s my mother, I’m her son.  That’s my devotion.  She cares and she loves me and everything in my life that affects me she is aware of.  That’s the kind of story I have that tells how I have my devotion on a daily basis.  Relate to her, share with her, talk to her about a little bit about this a little bit about that.  Like today there are things that I would tell my mother.  Have you sewn, do this now.


Prayer is an intimate relationship.  I am Jesus and __________ to the Father.  When I wake up in the morning, He’s the first thought in my life.  I am His son, His Spirit is with me amd He wants me to live a life of peace.


FMD:  Any last encouragement you would give to somebody who wants to experience God for real or in a deeper way.


MJE:  When you experience in your heart desire that comes from God.  All desire is from God.  That longing that you have within yourself – trust that.  When I was with Mother Teresa, I remember she said to me “I want you to teach my sisters about the love of God as a spouse.”  I said “Can I tell you this Mother, I don’t see Jesus as my spouse.  I don’t have that same attraction as a woman because a woman sees Jesus that way but He is my spouse.  I love Jesus as a man loves a woman but that spousal relationship I have to see in a different way.  So I see Him as Jesus in me.  I see I am Him and my father is my Father and He loves me and because He loves me He wants me to love the ones He loves and that becomes my spouse.  Just like the Father loves Jerusalem and Jerusalem is the spouse of God.  The Father talks about Jerusalem in a way of a spousal relationship.  You are my spouse as a virgin, as I marry a daughter so I marry you.”  There’s that very famous prophet ______ who married a harlot and the harlot had _______ because she kept being the harlot to him but he couldn’t stop loving her, he just continued to love her.  So God loves Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Jerusalem and Jesus weeps over Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Jerusalem so God loves who the people of God, not just the Jews but the people of God.  He loves us.  God is crazy about us.  So if He loves us what I see is me as Jesus in the world and I am crazy about people and I love people.  They don’t know that love that God __________.  So what God has done my heart is giving me the heart of a spouse for the people.  That’s the love of God.  God has love for His people and when that love burns, burns inside.  How do I know that?  Because that’s the love He has for me.  If only the people of God could see the love of God they would burn.  It’s the Father’s love that is most unknown in the world today.  The Father’s love.  It is the love of a child how a child loves the father than I believe that I would be able to teach people how to love.  The love of Jesus for the Father is what prayer is all about and that is the work of the Holy Spirit.  It’s blazing.  If you want to be in this process of prayer its fire.  It’s absolute blazing fire.  You will enter into the furnace of love because to love God is the greatest power and the greatest experience on earth.  It’s Eros, it’s Filos, it’s _____, it’s everything, it’s ______.


FMD:  What do those words mean to a listener that might not know?


MJE:  There’s no erotic love greater.  It’s a consuming erotic love.  It’s a consuming brother/sisterly love and it’s consuming sacrificial love.  I have this image on my altar of my icon of what Theresa Babel called the bridegroom.  It’s the crucified Jesus scourged.  She calls that the bridegroom.  Archbishop Sheen used to say “The cross is the bride of Jesus.”  It’s spousal love.  When you are willing to be crucified   I love the image of Jesus on the cross smiling.  I love Peter when he dies – what the hell you can’t hurt me upside down.  I’m not afraid.  You’re free when you’re a crucified lover.  Don’t care, just don’t care anymore.  _________________________________


FMD:  Thank you for your time and sharing with us.  Can we have your blessing?


MJE:  God our Father I pray that you experience all to love God to recognize they have that power to love Jesus and that the Holy Spirit be that flame of love and pray that this whole world becomes consumed with that love.


In the SoundCloud, Msgr. John Esseff refers to the Encyclical Mystici Corporis Christi of Pius XI which can be found here:

If you’d like to read the quote on creation by St. Thomas Aquinas go here:


About the Author Fr. Michael Denk

Fr. Michael was ordained into priesthood in the Diocese of Cleveland on May 12, 2007. He is dedicated to helping others encounter Christ through the celebration of the Eucharist, preaching, the Sacrament of Reconciliation, spiritual direction, and prayer.

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I'm Father Michael J. Denk, a priest of the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland. I am a contributor of content to The Prodigal Father Productions, Inc., a non-profit corporation functioning in accord with the traditions and the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. The corporation and I are separate, it doesn't speak for me, the parish, or on behalf of the Diocese of Cleveland, and I do not speak for it.