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While introducing Dr. Sri to begin the second night of our parish mission, I mentioned that God works powerfully in the hearts of the parishioners during a parish mission. I like to think of a parish mission as a retreat for the parish. During a retreat God offers special grace to enlighten our minds and attract our hearts. During my introduction, I shared that God would be speaking to each one of us individually with a particular word/message. This word/message would come in the form of some point in the speaker’s talk staying with you, with it being on your mind. The next day(s) to follow, you may return to that point and the movement may challenge a particular behavior or attitude that you carry or the evoke consolation and strength in some area of your life.

True to form, a certain line from Dr. Sri’s talk stayed with me. Dr. Sri spoke inspiringly about love and marriage. While speaking on the character of love, he quoted St. Thomas Aquinas’ definition of love: “To love is to will the good of the other.” For some reason this definition struck me and challenged me. It is now over a week since the retreat ended and I am still reflecting upon it.

I was challenged in regards to my love and the way that I love my neighbor, including all of you whom I serve. Am I motivated by selfish ways, such as the way St. Catherine speaks of in regards to imperfect love? St. Catherine describes imperfect love as any love motivated by self-interest. In other words, there is some sort of reward for the good that one performs. Perfect love, for St. Catherine, is love for God and one’s neighbor which is void of self interest. The person acts solely for the good of the other and is not concerned with any benefits associated with the good deeds.

This has been a powerful reflection for me over the past week. I know that God is calling me to a more perfect love in my life. Also, with a clearer understanding of perfect love and willing the good of the other, I see and recognize my limitations and realize that this can only happen through grace.

I hope that you, too, were touched by a word that God had for you during the retreat. I encourage you to stay with that word/message until it is exhausted.

If you happened to miss the parish mission, you can hear the recorded talks on the front of our website, here. The talks are posted on the front page of the site.

Ad majorem Dei gloriam,

Rev. John F. Jirak

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