“God is love” (1 John 4:8) and we are invited into this communion of love in the Trinity! This is a divine love that is unconditional and all-encompassing. It is a love that fills our souls and affects our experience of daily life in profound ways. Interested in an encounter with this type of love? Me too!
Human love is amazing! We are each born into the world into a family unit that Pope John Paul II called a “School of Love.” A child learns a basic trust in their family before they interact with the outer world and these early years are foundational. The gift of a loving mother and father is worth more than all the money in the world. Our family relationships are most often the closest relationships in our lives and here we learn to give and receive love. But this love is limited; however, if it can be connected and rooted in divine love, it reaches a greater perfection, which is one of the greatest blessings this side of eternity. It is a foretaste of eternity as we experience God’s infinite and merciful love through others.
“The glory of God is a human being fully alive” was written by the second-century theologian, St. Irenaeus. It is when the human being is in right relationship with God, that the human heart is “fully alive.” Early Church Fathers summed up the meaning of the incarnation in this way, “God became human that humans might become God” (paragraph 460 in the Catechism of the Catholic Church). In union with God, our human hearts are transformed and we learn to love with the divine nature of God.
You might ask, “How does this work?” One might say, “I have attended Mass all my life, I have followed the 10 Commandments and I try to serve God in all I do, but I’m not sure I’ve ever felt God’s love.” Unfortunately, this is not uncommon for Catholics and the language of personal relationship with God may sound “too Protestant.” We do so many things right in the Catholic Church and the depth of our philosophical and intellectually rich faith is unmatched in other traditions, but many have missed the importance and availability of a daily experience of a God who loves us unconditionally and walks with us always.
How can we remember and learn at a heart level who Jesus was and is and how we can experience God’s presence in our daily lives?
There are many ways, but I would like to offer one. Ask your pastor and parish staff to host an “Encounter Love” event in your parish. This is a three-hour event that will help you come to a deeper experience of God’s love and learn what it means to live as a missionary disciple of Jesus Christ as presented by Pope Francis and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops! Email me for additional information.
Peace in Christ,
Dr. Jeff Andrini is the director of the Office of Evangelization and Discipleship. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Originally printed in the August 2021 issue of The Western Kentucky Catholic.