"God is Love", but how do we define it? St. Clare of Assisi says, “We become what we love and who we love shapes what we become. If we love things, we become a thing. If we love nothing, we become nothing. Imitation is not a literal mimicking of Christ, rather it means becoming the image of the beloved, an image disclosed through transformation. This means we are to become vessels of God´s compassionate love for others.”
God is Love, and His love is very different from human love. God's love is unconditional, and it's not based on emotions or feelings. He doesn't love us because we make Him feel good or we're lovable; He loves us because He is love. He created us to have a loving relationship with Him, and He sacrificed His own Son to restore that relationship.
When someone says the words New Evangelization on campus, the first word that comes to my mind is love. Loving others to bring them to Christ. When we are evangelizing, we aren’t doing the work, we are vessels of God’s love. He is working through us to reach the people we evangelize. Yes, I love this quote above, but honestly, I’ve never heard of anything like that until I came to Benedictine. I didn't believe any of that in high school. I didn’t know how important love was in friendships, relationships, or how God saw us. I didn’t know that love could go deeper than just saying I love you.
Love seemed so foreign to me. I could see my parents “love” each other, but I didn't fully understand it. I had theology classes in high school where they tried to teach us about love, but it went in one ear and out the other. I did not want to listen. I “loved” playing sports in high school, but never thought of love in the sense of how God saw me. I knew He was there, but I never thought He truly loved me. I didn’t think He knew my name, cared, or even listened to me when I prayed. Benedictine has truly changed that mindset. New Jersey, where I am from, has a stereotype of people keeping to themselves. Not many people are open to talk. Moving out to Kansas was a dramatic change. People actually said "hi" to me, and genuinely cared when they asked how I was doing. Slowly but surely, I started to believe that people care, and that sparked something in my heart. If people could care about me, so could God.
I wonder and watched what made people tick. What made them so happy, and what put a smile on their faces. I quickly learned that Jesus was their answer. I would go to mass, but had no loving connection to Christ. I received Him, but didn't feel it in my heart. I longed for finding that connection, but fell into sin. I thought I could find love in others. When I felt sad, and wanted to be held, I ran to a guy instead of Christ. I didn’t know that He longed to have that loving relationship with me.
We learned in class that sex outside of marriage is fake love. We want to give all of ourselves to our partner, but we aren’t fully when using contraception. Learning this was a huge eye opener for me. I never thought of it in that sense, but it rocked my world. God is willing to give us His all, but yet I run to others to only give them half of me. To show them the fake Katie, not the true one that God wants me to show them. Our generation is so focused on fitting the perfect image, and I easily fall into that. I want to please people, and if that means changing who I am, I would do it.
Sophomore year, I joined a bible study, and again my eyes were opened. We started talking about relationship; having authentic ones. Ones where your friends and significant other truly cared for your well being. I longed for that so much, and didn't even know it. My favorite parable is the Prodigal Son. It touches my heart every time I read it because I feel like the son a lot. I run away thinking I'm okay and have it all together, but yet I crumble and fall. I’m scared to go home to the people who love me and have never stopped loving me. In the parable, the son returns home, and in my life, I don't feel like I have returned home just yet. My heart is longing for a home, and I know it’s trying to get to Christ, but things keep blocking its path, and I’m choosing to not push them away.
Being an Evangelization major, it’s hard to have these thoughts. I feel like we need to have it all together, since we are trying to bring others to Christ. How can we bring others to Him, if we aren't even going to Him ourselves. The most amazing thing I’ve learned at Benedictine is that God is a loving Father and will never stop loving us, even when we sin and fall. Confession is made just for this. He calls us home, and loves us through everything we do. He wants us with Him in heaven and we won’t get there if we are in mortal sin. Confession used to scare me because I thought it was God judging me for all I did. God isn't judging, God is loving and forgiving. Love has come to be my favorite word, because when I think of it, I think of Jesus right away. “Love is patient”, and that is very true. God doesn't push anything on us if we aren't ready. I learned in class that He is a gentleman, and would never. He wants us to come to Him when we are ready, and waits everyday for us. That is truly beautiful to know and ponder on. A father waiting for His sons and daughters to come home.
Wanting to be a youth minister in the future, I want to let all the youth that I work with know that they are loved. They are loved by me, their families, and a Father who would do anything for them. In high school, I did not believe that, and now being an Evangelization major, it’s one of my goals to let the youth I work with know. God is love, and I would have never believed that if I didn't come to Benedictine. Seeing genuine friendships on this campus is inspiring. God is working through them and that truly is evangelizing. Evangelizing doesn't just have to be talking about God, it can be saying hello to someone walking to class, or smiling at someone when you hold the door open for them. I don't think I would have switched my major to evangelization if I didn't meet the missionaries on campus. When they talked about Jesus, I didn't tone them out. I sat and listened, and wanted to know more. What they were saying sounded so true, because It was. God is love and He wanted us to share His love with others, and thats exactly what the missionaries did with me. We would go to mass and adoration together, and I truly felt God’s love after I opened my harden heart. If it wasn't for class where I heard about true and fake love, I don’t think I would have received that spark to change my life around, and be open to God’s love. God truly loves me, Katie Church, and I couldn't be happier to have Him in my life these days.