Sunday, October 6, 2013

Top 10 List of God's Love for Me

I attended a morning of reflection on Friday morning, and was asked for my notes afterward by a couple of friends.  I saw several women holding babies (which makes it difficult to take notes), knew several people who wanted to be there but couldn't, and know there are far more who can't come than who can, so this is for you.  Following, are my notes based on Fr. Michael Sullivan's talk entitled Top 10 List of God's Love for Me.  He has graciously given his permission and shorthand outline for the cause.  It is not as visually tidy as I'd like.  Apparently, blogger doesn't believe in the tab button, and the space bar forgets its job on the left margin.  But, in spite of that, I hope to render justice to all that he covered, and that it will bless you as it blessed me.  

You need to run in such a way so as to win.  Win what?  Two letters on the front of your name when you die.  S and T.  For me, it would look like this:  St. Heidi.  Here's hoping...

Do you not know that the runners in the stadium all run in the race, but only one wins the prize?  Run so as to win.  Every athlete exercises discipline in every way.  They do it to win a perishable crown, but we an imperishable one.  1 Corinthians 9:24-25

1.  God's love is needed.
     Example:  A knowing shepherd removes a grass seed imbedded in one of his sheep's eyes.  It could not remove it on its own, nor could any of its fellow sheep.

2.  God's love is defined.
      Love is willing a good for another for their own sake.  It is not a friendship of pleasure or utility, but of virtue.   Christ loved us: 
a.  First. 
b.  Gratuitously (while we were still sinners).
c.  In deed (by dying on the Cross).

3.  God's love is gratuitous (undeserved, unmerited, and unearned) and reconciling.
     Example:  Many times God holds our hand and leads us by His grace.  But, as with St. Paul, there are times we receive the fullness of God's grace in an instant.  God meets us where we are, in whatever state of sinfulness we are in, and leads us out.

4.  God's love is life-changing.
     Example:  St. Therese of Lisieux:  On the stairwell of her home, after an encounter with her father which saddened her, St. Therese explains a definitive change within her, one she could not effect for herself, though she had tried for years.  Her explanation of it was something like this, "I felt charity enter into my heart, the need to forget myself and to please others, and I have been happy ever since."

5.  God's love is un-begrudging and forgetful.
     Example:  Peter.  Peter denied knowing Jesus three times between His agony in the garden and His scourging at the pillar.  He denied Him at a time when Jesus most needed a friend.  Jesus was crucified, buried, and resurrected before they met again.   The risen Christ simply asks Peter three times, "Do you love me?  There were no harsh words spoken or explanation demanded.  Only love.

6.  God's love is unpredictable and uncontrollable.
     Example:  After a lifetime of praying for his father's conversion and reconciliation with God, Fr. Michael got a call that his father was ill.  Their time together (40 days and 40 nights) began with Fr. Michael giving his father the Sacraments of Reconciliation, the Eucharist, and Anointing of the Sick, per his father's request. 

7.  God's love defines us.
     Example:  John - The Beloved Disciple. 
*When you're all-powerful, you make stuff you like. 
*Hell exists because of God's love - He loves our freedom as much as He loves us.
*When God stops thinking about you, you stop breathing.

8.  God's love is shown in its effects.
     It is obvious.  If you know someone who has joy, peace, and compassion, they are probably "in relationship" with God, and experience His Love.

9.  God's love is grown in
      The best way to grow is to look at your sins (But, only as a catapult to God's mercy!), and look at God's goodness. 
*Think of your love for God as a flame on the wick of your soul.  All flames are different heights.  Venial sins do nothing to shorten the height of our flame, but they increase our threshold for sin. When our threshold for sin increases, we are more likely to commit a mortal sin, which extinguishes the flame.  A hiking analogy:  There is no harm in walking near the edge of a cliff.  However, if you fall off, the question begs to be answered, "Why were you so close to the edge?" 

10.  God's love is vulnerable/delicate.
       Our sin causes this.  Example:  God, as our friend, picks up the phone and calls us.  The call goes something like this:  God:  "Hey!  Do you want to come over and play today?!"
                                  Us:  "No.  I don't want to come over and play today."
                                  God:  "Oh.  Okay (disappointed).  I'll call you again later."
*If we continually say "No" to God's call, our conscience dulls, and we stop hearing the phone ring.

Points to consider:  Is there a façade, an unmet neediness, or addiction in my life that makes me unavailable to God or others? 

What are ways in which I have been loved?  List them...  (Have an ample supply of paper)

Suggested Reading: The Voices of the Saints, Bert Ghezzi
Testimony of Hope, Cardinal Nguyen Van Thuan
Simon, Son of John, Do You Love Me?, Encyclical by Pope Benedict XVI
Summa Theologica, St. Thomas Aquinas

Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for this GORGEOUS weather.  Thank you for the gift of Yourself at Mass this morning.  Thank you for the morning of reflection, and my Regnum Christi sisters who put it on.  Thank you for Fr. Michael's availability, wisdom, and zeal for souls.  Thank you for my friend, Janet, who gave a beautiful testimony of God's everlasting love, and the way she has experienced it in her life.  Please bless all of the people who read this blog, and lead them closer to Yourself.  And if that happens, thanks for letting me help!  Amen. 

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