The Love of Christ Urges Us

“For the love of Christ urges us…” These words of the Apostle Paul are an outflow of his attitude of soul, of the force and thrust of his heart. Paul had a life-changing experience when he encountered Christ on the way to Damascus.

The zeal with which he had been persecuting Christians was transformed into zeal for Christ, whose merciful love had now touched his life so deeply. His encounter was so powerful that it left him blind and without speech for three full days. Then, after he had more fully immersed himself in Christ’s love through three years of prayer in the desert, Paul went out into the world to share the love he had received. He was chosen, he was loved, he was sent!

Saint Paul’s experience and his missionary spirit have been a great source of inspiration in my life. In my own unique way, I experienced Jesus’ love and mercy for me as Paul did in Damascus. In my littleness, he chose me. In my unworthiness, he loved me. In my smallness, he sent me… In spite of all my falls and failures, his love has never given up on me. And he never ceases to fill my heart with the desire to spread his message, like St. Paul, to all the corners of the earth.

This desire already awakened in my heart as teenager, when I had the opportunity to go on mission trips to Paraguay for several years. Together with about one-hundred Schoenstatt young men and women, we would venture into the outskirts of the country, where we stayed for a week to visit and serve the people in some of the poorest areas. We slept on the floor, got little sleep, and sometimes walked a lot during the day – but everything was worth it.

In the midst of physical poverty, we encountered the richness of heart of the poorest of the poor, and it was a rewarding experience to visit them, spend time with them, listen to them, offer words of consolation, help with any needs we could, and pray together. These encounters over the years touched me deeply, and they gave me the strength and the motivation to share the fire of Christ’s love also with those around me back at home, in everyday life.

Over the years, my love for God grew deeper and deeper. He encountered me “at Damascus” time and again – and the desire to give my life completely to him awakened in me and took total possession of my heart. I wanted to serve him and share his love with others in every moment of my life! And I came to realize that God was calling me to do so by consecrating myself to him as a Schoenstatt Sister of Mary.

Now, as a Sister of Mary, it is a special joy for me to wear the brooch that is a part of our Marian dress. In this brooch, there is an image of the Blessed Mother by which are inscribed the words: Caritas Christi urget nos! The love of Christ urges us.

We strive to walk through life as Mary did, leading others to God out of love for her Son. Whether it is through our work with families and youth, through a secular profession, through cooking, sewing, or caring for the sick and the elderly, or through a life of adoration, it is Christ’s love which impels us. It is Christ’s love which we receive every morning in the Eucharist that gives us strength to go into our day.

Some years ago, through my work with the Schoenstatt Young Women’s branch, I had the opportunity to accompany a group of university women on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic. As you can imagine, this was a joy for my missionary heart.

Once more – about fifteen years later and as a Sister of Mary, I received the gift of being chosen, loved, and sent into a totally different environment. I could experience the beauty of serving Christ in others, and the joy of passing on his consoling love to those who are suffering.

Such experiences remind us why we are here on earth – to know, love, and serve God… Whether we do this in a far away country or in those nearest to us – a roommate, a family member, or colleague, is not important. Christ’s love wants to meet us wherever we are. And we are called to transmit his love to all those we encounter. Not because we’re great and perfect; but because in his infinite mercy he has loved us first – and his love compels us.

May Christ’s love fill your heart and impel you to bring him to the world around you – for you, too, are chosen, loved, and sent.