A guest post by Fr. Joel Fortier
I am delighted to offer the readers of The Good Disciple the following reflection on love, written by my dear friend, Fr. Joel Fortier. Earlier this year, Fr. Joel wrote on the topic of Receiving Love; it has since become one of this blog’s most popular reflections. I have not doubt To Be Loved will follow suit. Please share your comments, and share the post. It’s that good.
It is a wonderful thing to really feel loved…to be loved…when the love of someone you love reaches you; breaks thru the crust and shell of what keeps us from feeling and knowing we are loved, and you feel it! It is the most wonderful thing in the world…it is powerful! When you can say with certitude, I am loved! Love changes everything. Love is not a feeling, the feeling of being loved comes from actually being loved and it IS the most powerful feeling and force in the world. There is nothing like it! It is pure gift! It gives you strength and power, the very ruah…breath…and Spirit of God rushes into you. It transforms and liberates. It gives you the power to love! Love opens us to love, and when we love, courage is released in us; we discover that we can love, we discover the power of love, it sets us free from our fears and inhibitions; it heals and strengthens us.
Drink of it deeply, it is like a waterfall, a torrent of love coming into us, open wide your mouth, your heart, to receive it, let love fill you up, quench your thirst, and become a fountain of living water within you! That is what the Holy Spirit does, love releases love within us. Jesus said, “Receive the Holy Spirit, whose sins you forgive are forgiven.” Mercy is released into the world. To be loved is to existentially know God; to know and experience the power of God. To love and live in love, is to live IN God…to experience the power of God to love even when you don’t “feel” like it. That’s when love becomes a decision, not just a feeling, which is what Christ did for us. It destroys death and reveals the power of the cross and resurrection at work in us; the power of love. And so Christ says, “Take up your cross and follow me.” Love gives us the power to do that with joy, it enables and empowers us to love as Christ loves. “Love one another as I have loved you,” is his commandment, and he says, “I tell you this so that my joy may be in you, and your joy may be full and complete!” [Jn 15:11]
“Salvation…Love…consists not in that we have loved God, but that God has loved us.” [1 Jn 4,10] We ARE loved, that is the joy of the gospel, thank God for those who bear good news and make it credible for us by their lives and actions; by their love! They will know we are Christian by our love after all! Our orthodoxy is only as believable as our orthopraxy!
I thank God for the people in my life who love me, they are angels of God, messengers who bring Good News, the Incarnate Word of God, Jesus in the flesh for me. The Jesus in me loves the Jesus in you. It is the fire that burns in the Sacred Heart, the fire Christ came to ignite on earth, for us and for all people. Let it be ignited in us and spread throughout the world!
“How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” —Romans 10:15.
Born in1942 to French Canadian parents, Fr. Joel Fortier, along with his three siblings grew up in an environment steeped in Catholic spirituality and practice. He entered the University of Illinois before seminary to study Psychology, Education, and Philosophy. In 1969, Joel was ordained with a Master of Divinity from St. Meinrad Seminary for the Diocese of Joliet, Illinois with extensive work and training in inner city parishes, and peace and justice movements. Joel received his Doctor of Ministry from St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore. He has worked with Marriage Encounter, Cursillo, and Charismatic movements integrating with parish pastoral ministry. He is the Founding Director of the Center for Family Ministry for the Diocese of Joliet. Fr. Joel was the Pastor and founder of The Lisieux Pastoral Center of St. Theresa Parish in Kankakee, IL,the Pastor of St Isidore Parish, Bloomingdale IL, and most recently the Pastor of St. Thomas the Apostle in Naperville, IL. Now retired from full-time parish ministry since 2013, Fr. Joel continues to live out his core statement: “To help make love happen, anywhere and any way possible.”