Love, Relationship, and How We Live

heartsThe other day, I was sorting through some old papers and came across the “Fall in Love” prayer by Joseph Whelan, SJ. His thoughts are so simple yet so profound. I was glad to come across them again.

The first time I read these words, though, I was completely intimidated. It was my first Ignatian retreat, and Whelan’s words presented such a challenge that I had to fight the urge to hightail it out of the retreat center! I wasn’t sure if I was ready to be this honest with myself. And while I was indeed searching and wanting to know God, I wasn’t yet sure if I had found God at all. I wondered, How am I supposed to “fall in love and stay in love” with a God I am just getting to know?

There came no immediate answer from above and no immediate rising to the challenge on my part. I just kept sitting with God—and wondering.

It wasn’t until many years later that the answer to my question started to reveal itself as I was reading St. John of the Cross’s Ascent of Mount Carmel. St. John advised, “In the first place, it should be known that if a person is seeking God, His beloved is seeking him much more.” This concept was profoundly liberating to me. I had been seeking, trying so hard to know God, but I perceived myself as being on a solitary quest. Reading St. John, I realized that I was not alone at all—God was already seeking me! This struck a chord deep within my heart. Ours is not a God who lets us “go it alone.” Ours is a God of relationship. If we are seeking God, we are responding to the One who has already been calling us. Suddenly, the task of “falling in love” and “staying in love” with God seemed so much easier, because being “in love” requires relationship.

Despite this realization, though, I still find Fr. Whelan’s words challenging. They still stretch me out of my comfort zone and urge me to conduct a sort of “spiritual check-up” as I look at the truths of my daily life. If we dare to rise to the challenge, Whelan can help us all to come to a more authentic relationship with God.

We can ask ourselves:

  1. What is it that gets me out of bed in the morning?
  2. What is it that I do with my waking hours?
  3. What often seizes my imagination?
  4. What brings me joy and makes me grateful?
  5. What breaks my heart?
  6. With what am I actually in love?

For most of us, if we tackle these questions honestly, we will come across some inconsistencies. We may be surprised that our thoughts and desires are not where we thought they were or where we want them to be. That’s OK; we’re not saints yet! As we journey forth, it’s OK to make adjustments if we’ve gone off-course.

If we do want to re-align our lives, we must remember that we aren’t on the quest alone. We are in relationship with God. And every strong relationship needs an ongoing investment of time. In his recent apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love), Pope Francis advises young married couples that “Love needs time and space; everything else is secondary” (224). The same words ring true for our relationship with God. If we really want to fall in love and stay in love with God, we must give God our time, and we must allow room for the Holy Spirit to work in our hearts.

We must take the time to be with God. This be-ing with will determine the everything of how we live.

Previous articleCelebrating the Seventh-Annual 31 Days with St. Ignatius
Next articleEvents Through a Camera
Rebecca Ruiz
Rebecca Ruiz holds a B.A. from the College of the Holy Cross and an M.A. from Tufts University. She has been trained as an Ignatian spiritual director through Fairfield University’s four-year formation program. Rebecca served in refugee resettlement for nearly 15 years and has also worked as an ethnomusicologist, composer, and writer. She and her husband have two sons and live at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia. She strives, as St. Ignatius taught, to see God in all things and do “all things for the greater glory of God.”


  1. I was just talking to my spiritual director about fearing that being a committed disciple of Jesus could result in being alone. Thanks for this encouraging reflection on a favorite prayer that I first saw in the “Hearts on Fire” book! It will help me to move forward in my journey to love a little more like God loves.

  2. Peter,
    Thanks for your thoughts. Yes! It is always fruitful to take time to be with God. Even if we don’t see the results immediately, we will see them over time!

  3. Thanks Rebecca for leading me to this prayer. Thanks too for this blog which I understand as the three great questions; What have I done for God today? What am I doing for God right now? and What can I do for God in the future? “Take time to be with God” Yes, I like that idea and I am sure He does too.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here