After a powerful experience of the Mystery of Holy Repentance (confession) on Friday and as I sat down in the church, I felt strongly that there was something I needed to totally give over to God. TOTALLY—to be able to say, “You can take this out of my life if You want to; I surrender it.” I panicked. I was terrified to give this over TOTALLY. But I immediately heard Jesus speak to my heart, almost in a sad tone of voice: “Do you think I won’t give it back to you?” My stubborn heart was melted. How could I refuse to surrender this gift to the One who loves me TOTALLY? He was even telling me that He would give it back to me! In the very instant I heard these words, I also understood that this statement didn’t mean that the thing I needed to give over would be given back to me in exactly the same way as I have it now, but I knew that it would come in the form that is exactly as I need it.
During the Assembly, God was speaking to my heart in a very personal way, yet this personal experience was not separate from my experience of being part of the Church. In fact, it seemed to me that God was speaking the same things to the Church as He was speaking to my heart. This makes so much sense. Deacon Michael Lee explained that we are made to live in the context of the Church, and “without communion is despair.”
Here are a few other quotes that struck me during the Assembly (there were also many others!):
Fr. David Petras:
“We are in love with the Divine Liturgy…because this is God who gives Himself to us.”
“It is God who takes initiative.”
Deacon Michael Lee:
“The cross reveals God’s love;…we see an inkling of the love of the Trinity.”
“Look at what He did [giving Himself on the cross]…WHY DO WE DOUBT HIM?”
God loves us! We are loved by infinite love! And yet, Deacon Michael reminded us, as he spoke about the love of the Trinity revealed through the cross: “We are supposed to have that kind of love for each other.” “We find ourselves only in the sincere gift of self,” he said. We were created for no less than to enter into the love of the Trinity—to enter into a continual life-giving cycle of self-emptying and receiving! Our Church, founded by Christ, was made for no less than this!
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “God’s very being is love. By sending his only Son and the Spirit of Love in the fullness of time, God has revealed his innermost secret: God himself is an eternal exchange of love, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and he has destined us to share in that exchange” (221).
When we look at our relationships with God and others in terms of this “eternal exchange of love”—this cycle of self-emptying and receiving—we understand what it means to be Church and what it means to be human. And when we discern that God is asking something particular of us, we will be able to see how His request fits into this life-giving cycle (or at least trust that it does!). We will know that whatever He asks us to let go of, He will give back in greater measure!