God’s Love…explained

God’s love.  Divine love.  Trinitarian love.

What is it?

My concise definition:  A relentless torrent of reckless self-giving.

Relentless:  Continuous.  Constant.  Perpetual.

Torrent:  Think “fire hose,” as in ‘trying to drink from.’  A great quantity arriving at great speed.

Reckless??  Not meaning careless, lacking caution, or irresponsible.  But illustrating the fact that it is so exclusively other-centered — so intensely focused on seeking the good of the ‘other’ — that it leaves absolutely no room for concern for oneself, nor even the slightest consideration of self.  A complete and total disregard for what might happen to me.

Self-giving:  Freely making a total gift of oneself.  Self-donation or self-bestowal, as St John Paul II would occasionally call it.

It’s the love that the Father has for His beloved Son, Jesus.
A love so tremendously awesome that its reception cannot go without a corresponding response.
It’s the love with which Jesus responds to His Father, which He returns to Him, reciprocates.
A love so authentic and real that it generates a personal expression — the Holy Spirit.

Here’s how St John Paul II described it:

“…the Father begets the Son by loving him; the Son is begotten by the Father, letting himself be loved and receiving from him the capacity to love; the Holy Spirit is love given in total gratuitousness by the Father, received with full gratitude by the Son, and returned by him to the Father.”  (General Audience, 29-July-1998)

A relentless torrent of reckless self-giving.
Its greatest manifestation is MERCY.
It’s the love that caused the Father to will the sending of His Son for us.
It’s the love that enabled the Son to desire to be sent for us.
It’s the love that’s graphically represented by the inferno of flame emanating from the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
It’s what generates, builds and sustains true communion.
It is always free, total, faithful and fruitful (thanks, St JP2 and Christopher West).

It’s the kind of love in which I must engage if I want to attain self-fulfillment:

“…man, who is the only creature on earth which God willed for itself, cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself.”  (Gaudium et Spes, n. 24)

This divine love gives me the answers to life’s basic questions:
Why am I here?
Where am I going?
How do I get there?

Divine love is my origin.
Divine love is my mission.
Divine love is my destiny.

My origin:  Divine love is always open to new life.  That’s the reason I’m here.  That’s why God created human persons.

My mission:  The greatest commandments — to love God and others, with this same love
(Jesus:  “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” – John 15:12)

My destiny:  Perfect communion with God for all eternity….the Beatific Vision.

The most accurate human representation of divine love is the physical love between wife and husband.
Divine love underlies radical acts like martyrdom.

A relentless torrent of reckless self-giving.
I need to reflect deeply on this, to contemplate this.

With this definition in mind, I need to do some serious lectio divina on these words of Jesus:

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you; abide in my love.”  (John 15:9)

Most importantly, I need to understand and believe that this is the kind of love that God has for me, individually and personally.  I need to live my daily life certain of the ever-presence of God’s deep love for me.
In times of temptation.
In times when I (selfishly) find it difficult to love others.
Especially in times of trial and suffering.

I need to ruminate on how very much God loves me, that I may be inspired to make an appropriate response.

Thank you, most gracious and merciful Lord, for your relentless torrent of reckless self-giving love.

Sacred Heart

Knowing Jesus personally

One of the primary elements of being a Catholic should be our personal love relationship with Jesus, lived out in a daily striving to know, love and serve our Lord so as to abide in full communion with Him.  Each of our days should include “our own constantly renewed experience of savouring Christ’s friendship and his message.” (Pope Francis, The Joy of the Gospel, n. 266)

Unfortunately, many Catholics, enamored of and craving the comforts, satisfactions and experiences of life, are blocking out that which they should recognize as the truth and the meaning of life, prompting Pope Francis to plead:

I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them; I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day. No one should think that this invitation is not meant for him or her, since “no one is excluded from the joy brought by the Lord”. The Lord does not disappoint those who take this risk; whenever we take a step towards Jesus, we come to realize that he is already there, waiting for us with open arms. Now is the time to say to Jesus: “Lord, I have let myself be deceived; in a thousand ways I have shunned your love, yet here I am once more, to renew my covenant with you. I need you. Save me once again, Lord, take me once more into your redeeming embrace”. How good it feels to come back to him whenever we are lost! Let me say this once more: God never tires of forgiving us; we are the ones who tire of seeking his mercy. (The Joy of the Gospel, n. 3)

HerbeckThis week, Catholic missionary disciple and evangelist, Peter Herbeck of Renewal Ministries, has dedicated his five weekday radio programs to helping us to understand exactly what it means to know Jesus personally, and how we can nurture a personal relationship with Jesus.  Each of Peter’s daily talks is only about 12-minutes long.  They will be available for several weeks in the Renewal Ministries audio archive.  For your convenience, here are links to each day’s segment:

May 19
May 20
May 21
May 22
May 23

Good Friday

Crucifix in chapel Mt Saviour 2013.06.04

This is a photo of a crucifix which adorns one of the small altars in the Crypt of the Chapel at Mount Saviour, a Benedictine monastery near Elmira, New York.  If I was a priest, this is the type of crucifix which would precede me down the aisle and reside at the altar for Mass.  It’s a graphic reminder to me of the monumental, pain-riddled self-giving sacrifice freely offered by Jesus so that I might have the opportunity to escape eternal death and the separation from God forever which is warranted by my selfish sinfulness (read what the Church teaches in CCC nn. 606-618).  How can I not strive as diligently as possible to make an appropriate response?!

Here are the meditations for the Stations of the Cross to be led by Pope Francis this evening in the Roman Colosseum.

Thank you, Jesus!  Thank you, Source of my hope!!

“…for us Christ is everything.”

Why should I desire Jesus more and more? How am I a participant in the building of His Church?  I certainly found some answers in this talk given by Cardinal Piacenza a few weeks ago, posted by Dom Mark yesterday.  I was really WOW’ed by it.  So simple, yet so profound.  Here are a few lines that stopped me in my tracks for reflection:

…the meaning of the world is a Person, a Person who is the presence of the Eternal in the world. Hence, he is also the meaning of my life.
(…)
To live solely from Christ is to live everything else because of Christ—this is what it means to be Christians.
(…)
The martyrs were willing to part company with their limbs rather than parting company with Christ.
(…)
Christ, who down here on earth no longer has a visible face, nor hands, nor feet, takes me and makes use of me and through my hands succors the poor, with my feet goes out to meet my brothers and, through my heart, loves.
(…)
In the measure in which each one of us opens himself up in this way to the action of Christ, we give him the possibility of living in certain existential ways that he was unable to live in his individual human nature, on account of the earthly conditions to which he was subject, through the reality of the Incarnation.
(…)
Each one of us is an original brushstroke in the great portrait painted by God throughout sacred history….. I am called to reveal, in some sense, a new feature of the face of Christ. Each one of us is a brushstroke in the fresco, a tile in the mosaic of the perfect Man.

Prior to this, I had never heard of Cdl Piacenza.  Now I want to hear any talk or homily he gives, and read anything he’s ever written!