Reflective Grace: A love that shines so brightly

August 16, 2016

During the summer months, I have been blessed to participate in a lot of retreats. I’ve been on retreat with high school students, engaged couples and young adults from all different backgrounds. 

The common denominator with all of them has been the desire to love God and follow His will. Retreats are excellent ways the Church offers us to step away from our busy lives and reconnect with God’s incredible love. We are blessed to have so many retreats in our area. 

As a priest, it is an incredible blessing to walk with people on their retreat journey. During the retreats, I’ve been able to celebrate Mass, listen to talks, hear confessions and converse with those on a retreat. In all of these ways, I’ve seen the grace of God flow through the lives of the people I’ve encountered and seen how they have been transformed by love. It is a blessing to witness God at work! 

A concept I learned in seminary is called “reflective grace,” which is the grace of God that is seen by observers. While God is pouring out love upon a person on a retreat, that love reflects to those around. The person often has a profound experience of grace from the retreat and they are changed by God’s love. But they are not the only ones to be affected. The love of God shines so brightly that those around them can’t help but also be changed by grace. 

During all of the various retreats I’ve been blessed to attend this summer, I have seen my share of reflective grace! 

I’ve seen numerous people encounter God’s love and mercy in new and exciting ways. Some of them make breakthroughs in their personal lives that they never thought could happen. I have seen the incredible love of God shine so brightly through them that I’ve been able to bask in the abundant love of God. 

It is like needing to put on sun glasses so I’m not completely blinded by the bright light of God’s love that I’ve been able to witness through these retreats experiences. The grace that others have experienced has reflected on to me and renewed and inspired me.

If you have been on a retreat lately, you know how transforming a spiritual experience like a retreat can be to your soul. But we can try to find God in other ways as well. Maybe you’ve seen “reflective grace” if you’ve helped with a retreat or talked with someone who has had a profound prayer experience. 

The Lord invites us to see His grace reflected off others. That is one reason God is so generous in the grace He gives out: He wants as many people as possible to see and experience unconditional love! 

I encourage you to try to look for reflective grace. Sometimes, like a retreat, it is easy to see. Sometimes it takes a little more work. But God wants us to see His love and He pours out an abundance of love so we can also be changed.

Father T.J. Dolce is the director of the Archdiocesan Office of Vocations Ministry.