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Representing faith through Christ’s unconditional love

Published: December 23, 2023   
Gianni Squillace

The perception of God as cold or distant often appears to be believable. Tragedies are rampant throughout the world while loneliness and hopelessness can be a frequent feeling within the heart. However, the art of the journey of prayer involves learning to silence such misleading whispers. 

Recently, I woke up with the realization that I have not engaged in a meaningful conversation with God for a while. My mind was burdened with thoughts that I knew I should have shared with him. Typically, this realization might have stirred feelings of guilt, shame and a sense of inadequacy — all of which are emotions I've grown accustomed to experiencing in environments that claim to nurture God's love.  

But on this particular morning, I experienced a refreshing change. Despite waking up later than intended, instead of immediately launching into self-criticism during prayer, I acknowledged to God that while I felt remorse for not praying as diligently or for my delayed awakening, I was too overwhelmed by his love to allow guilt to consume me in his presence.

Recognizing our sins and feeling a degree of guilt can guide us back to what's good, true and beautiful. Yet, it's equally vital not to dwell excessively on guilt when returning to God, seeking forgiveness and striving for betterment in our actions. It's crucial for the Catholic Church community to be acutely aware of the God we represent — a God unmoved by our failures, one who perpetually chooses mercy over anger. Jesus beckons us to mirror his image and likeness — not too easy of a challenge. Still, he assures us of our potential when we yield to his guidance. 

The ramifications of neglecting this task extend beyond internal conflicts, as they harm the people of the Catholic community. I draw back upon two conversations with close friends. Both conversations revolve around poor experiences within the Catholic community. The first friend, a Catholic, and I reminisced about our shared childhood experiences, many of which were bad.  

Although we are far away from our old memories now, I could hear anger hiding under our voices as we spoke. It wasn't until the second conversation with my other friend (a devout Christian but not specifically Catholic) that I truly took time to take my first dialogue seriously as my friend critiqued in the second dialogue: "For a Church that takes such pride in its warm community, it really needs to be more welcoming." 

What is the love we claim to represent in the Catholic faith? It is not conditional like fleeting physical attraction, nor is it earned in the way myself and others try to earn admiration or respect. As followers of Christ, many of us can fairly explain his love in conversation or on paper. It takes a guided effort by means of imagination through sequential ideas and events to know, believe and finally accept the love of Christ. The stations of the cross, for example, are memorizable or easily read on paper. To verbally recite the stations is to know of Christ, but to internalize the reality of his sacrifice requires imagination. The imagination allows us to sample a mere speck of the horror and excruciating pain of his sacrifice. By grasping such horrors, we get a tiny glimpse of the love within Christ that compelled him to sacrifice his life for a people that would still turn their backs on him for the rest of time. To know and remember Christ’s unconditional love within the heart of the individual is the first step in preventing dialogues like the prior.  


Gianni Squillace is a sophomore at the University of Dallas. St. Vincent de Paul Church in Rogers is his home parish.

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