Father Jess Anthony Testa


A Roman Catholic Priest at the Sacred Heart Church in Lombard, Illinois, Father Testa was born and raised in Chicago, attended Northwestern University and later John  Marshall Law School. He entered the seminary for Late vocations in 1984 and received his M.Div. from Sacred Heart School of Theology, in Hales Corners, Wisconsin  in 1988. Later that year he was ordained to the priesthood. He is currently with the diocese of Joliet, Illinois.


We are all familiar with the Gospel passage where the Apostles ask Jesus to teach them to pray. Two things struck me. I find it ironic that the Apostles could have asked Jesus to teach them to work miracles like multiplying fish and loaves or changing water to wine. They didn't. They asked Jesus to teach them to pray.  Also, when Jesus spoke about God, He said My Father. When He taught them to pray He said Our Father. He was telling them and us that God is the loving Father of us all.

How do we pray? Many people try to bargain with God(this cannot be done). We sometimes try to maneuver God into our plans(heal my loved one and I will go to Mass every Sunday etc.). Prayer is not bargaining with God or manipulating God. What is prayer then?

Prayer is placing ourselves in the presence of God and waiting with open arms to receive from God whatever He wills to place in them, good or bad(winning the lottery or carrying the cross). It means conforming our wills to the will of God. Jesus was not masochistic. He did not want to die. Think of the Agony in the Garden--"Father let this cup pass from me"." Those are not the words of a man that wants to die. But then He added--"Not My will but Your will be done." That is how our prayers should always end.

Some claim God doesn't hear my prayers or God doesn't answer my prayers. God hears and answers ALL our prayers. The problem is that we may not always get the answer we prefer. Jesus certainly didn't get the answer He preferred, in the Garden. If Jesus didn't, who are we to think we are better than Jesus? That is the problem with most of us--we want one answer and one answer only. WELL, if I can't get what I want, why bothering praying?

Jesus said--Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, knock and it shall be opened. Those who ask-receive, those who seek-find, those who knock are admitted.

What is it that we ALL pray for? We all pray for the same thing--HAPPINESS. We ask for those things that will make us happy, or rather, those things we THINK will make us happy. Would you want a new car if the steering was faulty and you or a loved one got killed, or a swimming pool if a child drowned?

We should pray, first of all, that our wills conform to the will of God(not vice versa) just as Jesus did in the Garden. The answer we get will be better than we expected because it will show that we have complete faith and trust in God as Jesus did and that we walk in the confidence of God--in knowing that the crosses we carry will never break us because God carries us and our crosses in His arms.(check out FOOTPRINTS in the sand-very nice). Secondly, Jesus tells us to pray for the Holy Spirit--"The heavenly Father will give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him." Why the Holy Spirit? It is the best overall gift heaven has to offer. It is the gift of God, Himself, to us. God wants us to be happy and will only give us what is the best for us, and make us happy. The problem is--our ideas of happiness and His may be different. Who is right? Would any good mother give her child a chocolate sundae twenty minutes before dinner? Of course not. Mother knows best. The child might think I have a mean mommy, she won't let me have--whatever. Are we any different than that child when we go to God and ask for something? I hope so.



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