Thursday, March 29, 2012

Infinite Love

Love, something that is misunderstood in today’s day in age.  As I mentioned in my last post about unconditional love, the complete self-donating love that springs from God is missing.  The question is why?  Let me offer some reflection.  Our world places a premium on the material, the immediate, and the physical.  Absent from this is the Spiritual, delayed gratification, fasting, and those things that are supernatural.  We seek to replace God’s love with love of the world and worldly things. 
God’s love is so deep, a complete abyss of love that we can never reach the bottom.  Our hearts so thirst and cry out for this love.  There is nothing else that can fill this gap in our hearts.  There is an inscription written on our hearts when we were created by God, and this is the longing, the calling of our hearts for God.  We must seek God with all our hearts; seek His love for us, because "God is Love" (1 Jn 4:8) and love is his first gift, containing all others. "God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us." (Rom 5:5) (CCC 733)  This is a love that excludes no one; everyone is welcome at the table of the Lord.  If we look to our hearts we know this to be true, when we fill it with things of the world, it may be full for a short period but each day it needs to be refilled.  God fills that hole with His love till it overflows and explodes out of us.  God’s love explodes out of us in our works.  When we know the love of God deep in our hearts we cannot help but do the works of mercy. 
As deep cries out to deep so our heart cries out for God and when it is not filled with Him we are not fulfilled.  This is seen so often in today’s world where love is a finite concept.  Love is not finite but infinite.  If you have ever read the: Chronicles of Narnia the end of the last book ends with the children running in Aslan’s land and the call is this, Farther up and deeper in.  As they run farther up and deeper in the land grows larger and this is the analogy for God’s love.  The farther we delve into the depth of God’s love the bigger it gets, it is infinite.  This is where all love springs from, the complete and infinite love of God.  The constant sharing of Trinity, The Father begetting the Son and between the love of the two of them they spirate the Holy Spirit, the breath of God that comes to dwell in all of us.
We need to learn to pray to God in love.  God's love has no bounds, neither should our prayer. (see note 52) Praying "our" Father opens to us the dimensions of his love revealed in Christ: praying with and for all who do not yet know him, so that Christ may "gather into one the children of God."  (CCC 2793)

The Word became flesh so that thus we might know God's love: "In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him." (1 Jn 4:9) "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." (Jn 3:16)(CCC 458)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Unconditional Love

Unconditional love, something that our culture today does not understand but is what we  need, what we are all called to.  Love without expectations, without conditions, without preconceived ideas or notions.  Our hearts were made for this kind of love that is first and foremost found in God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  The Trinity, the eternal communion of love.  This is where love begins and ends.  As St. Augustine says, “our hearts are restless till they find their rest in you.”  Love itself is an act of affection but not in the reductionist sense that we see it today.  Love today is used (abused) in many ways.  Love is misused to say I love pizza or I love my car.  This is such a simply basest view.  You may strongly like these things but you don’t really love them and share a deep interpersonal connect with the pizza or car.  Love in the sense of unconditional, agape love grows out of our first and foremost our love for God and our deep personal relationship that we have with him.  Love is putting yourself last and others first, your wellbeing behind the wellbeing of others.  True love is a self-donating love the complete giving of self to God and if your vocation is to marriage then the complete giving of yourself to your spouse, always seeking their wellbeing over your own.  And in the supreme act of love, the marital act of self-giving sexual intercourse that then leads to the two becoming one and sometimes producing a third.  As the old line goes, love so real that in nine months you have to give it a name. 
Our culture has lost its love and in losing love it has lost its guiding light, it has lost God.  Our culture has become an ugly place where the relativistic concepts of the person as product and the usability of everything and everybody are rampant.  The dignity of the human person and that each individual is unique, unrepeatable and created by God.  Only in discovering the beauty of God, His creation, His plan and His unconditional love can we recover it for ourselves.  Our selfishness threatens to overtake us as a culture, everything is me first.  People are trampled and shoved out of the way for mere material items, but is there ever a line to see Jesus.  Are our adoration chapels so packed that they cannot fit any more people in them?  Do people make time for Church or do they live for Jesus. 
There is no doubt that this is not the easy route, this is not the easy way out but it is what each of us are called to; follow Jesus, to live his call of unconditional love because only in His heart will we find our rest.  There was never a promise that it would be easy, never a promise of a smooth road.  When you take the road less traveled it is fraught with bumps and holes but Jesus promises to walk with us and aid us.  We must persevere in love, unconditional love that knows no end.  The more we love the more we grow in holiness, the more we grow closer to Jesus, adhering to his Most Sacred Heart. 
As Catholics, as Christians we hold the light of love in our souls, when we receive the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.  There is no act of love more unconditional than Jesus Christ humbling himself, coming down to us under the auspices of bread and wine and giving us Himself so that we might have eternal life, supernatural grace.  The more we frequent the Sacraments, the more we grow in grace and truth.  The more our souls are nourished by the source of life Himself.  It is then the inward beauty that bursts forth in love and charity.  The act of unconditional love explodes from our very soul because it can no longer be contained.  “Beauty grows in you to the extent that love grows, because charity itself is the soul's beauty.” (St. Augustine)
People may say such a thing does not exist, that it is human nature to be selfish, serving yourself first and others second.  But it is when we love unconditional, giving completely of ourselves in self-donation to another person that we are the most human, that we fulfill our vocation as men and women created by God.  Our world struggles under the weight of many problems but none more pressing than the loss of beauty, of holiness of unconditional love.
And just in case you were wondering what unconditional love looks like, I have provided a few images…

“  Behold The Heart  
        that has loved so much,  
               and been so little loved in return.” 
-Jesus to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque   

Is it easy, no; Is it our calling, the answer to the deepest desire of our hearts.  Yes.  
As always Sacred Scripture says it best:
"Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends; as for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For our knowledge is imperfect and our prophecy is imperfect; but when the perfect comes, the imperfect will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood. So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love."  1 Corinthians 13:4-13