Last night was the final night of our parish mission that featured Fr. Bill Garrott, O.P. Fr. Garrott certainly lived up to the Dominican charism as the order of preachers. He combined engaging stories and reflections with musical performances without ever being saccharine or trite. The substance of his message was straightforward without being oversimplified. Each night he focused on a different Person of the Holy Trinity. Rather than trying to recap all three nights, I thought I would share a few of the pearls.
First of all, a phrase that was explored in depth on the first night but repeated every night was, "God does not love you because you are good. God loves you because He is good." We cannot demand God's love because we have earned it. We gratefully receive God's love because He is merciful and loves us in spite of our persistent imperfections.
At the foot of the Cross, we can stand with the Blessed Virgin Mary and learn about love, learn about sin, learn about forgiveness, and learn about wisdom. The words on forgiveness were very poignant for me. Forgiveness is not a feeling. It is a willful decision. Once we make the decision to forgive, our feelings may or may not change at the same time. We can forgive, and still have feelings of sadness, hurt, and even anger. The conscious will to forgive will pull our feelings along toward healing, but it can take time. Just because the hurt remains, does not mean that I have failed at forgiveness. That was important for me to hear.
Finally, when we experience an intimate, personal relationship with Jesus Christ, we will be driven to share this with others. The Holy Spirit will give us the strength to do things we cannot imagine being able to do on our own. Trust this power. Participate in the New Evangelization and draw others to the Eucharist. Go forth and set the world on fire for Christ.