O Lord Thou shalt open my lips and my mouth shall declare Thy praise.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

What is "True Love"?

Fourth Sunday after Epiphany - II Class
Missa Adorate Deum

Epistle: Romans 13:8-10
[The love of our neighbor.]
Brethren, Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth his neighbor hath fulfilled the law. For, Thou shalt not commit adultery: Thou shalt not kill: thou shalt not steal: Thou shalt not bear false witness: Thou shalt not covet: and if there be any other commandment, it is comprised in this word: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. The love of our neighbor worketh no evil. Love therefore is the fulfilling of the law.

Gospel: Matthew 8:23-27 [The calming of the sea.]
At that time, when Jesus entered into the boat, His disciples followed Him: and behold a great tempest arose in the sea, so that the boat was covered with waves, but He was asleep. And His disciples came to Him and awaked Him, saying: Lord, save us, we perish. And Jesus saith to them: Why are you fearful, O ye a little faith? Then rising up, He commanded the winds and the sea, and there came a great calm. But the men wondered, saying: What manner of man is this, for the winds and the sea obey Him?

The love of our neighbor worketh no evil. This isn't the first time I've said this and it certainly won't be the last: Pilatus dixit, "Quod est Veritas?", sed ego dico, "Quod est Caritas?" Pilate said "What is Truth?", but I say, "What is Love?" Many couples today say that they love each other, but they live in sin. How can you daily (or rather nightly) lead the other person into sin and still claim that you love them? So many couples that just dating (be they teenagers or adults) are sexually active and justify that by saying that they're in "love", that they "love each other", that this is "true love", so it's OK. Love is used to justify sin. That couldn't be any more irrational: using your love of the person to justify sin; that it's somehow acceptable to kill their soul and lead them to Hell because it's "love". The love of our neighbor worketh no evil. If you love the person, you will help them get to Heaven. If you love them, you want the best for them and the best is Heaven. If you love them, you would never want them to go to Hell and would not even be able to stand the thought of that person in Hell. If you love them, you would never lead them to sin. If you love them, the salvation of their soul would be bar none the most important. The love of our neighbor worketh no evil.

Let us take the example of St. Margret of Cortona. She was a rebellious teenager in the 13th Century. She was very independent-minded and strong-willed. She wanted to get away from her parents and live by her own rules. She was everything but submissive and humble. She found a man and cohabited with him. He was able to offer her a life away from her parents where the two of them could live as they pleased and have an independent life. She also grew up poor and she was able to live a more comfortable life while she was with him and he would give her gifts. As his concubine, she bore his son. She would beg her boyfriend to marry her, but he always refused. She remained his concubine for nine years. She was finally freed from this life of sin when he was murdered. The killer was never found. It was actually his dog that went home and led her to his body in a ditch covered with logs. It was clear from the way he was left that is was murder. From the maggots eating him, it was clear he had been dead for several days. This served as a wake-up call for her. She lived a life of strict penance. She was constantly tempted to go to her former life, but she knew that it was just empty pleasure; it wasn't satisfying. She began to receive revelations from Our Lord, who became her mystical lover. As she worked off more temporal punishment through penance, Our Lord allowed her to be more intimate with Him in prayer. She became a Franciscan Tertiary and founded a group of tertiaries that worked in a hospital. She is buried in Cortona and her body in incorrupt.

We see that she had two lovers in life. First there was the man whose concubine she was. All they ever did was live in sin. That is not love. We must understand the difference between being "nice" and being "loving". "Nice" is wanting the person's happiness now, in this life. "Love" is wanting their happiness in eternity, in the next life. St. Margaret's boyfriend did not love her. He did not seek her salvation. He actively hindered her salvation by wooing her into sexual sins so often. Her passions demanded that she live freely and independently. She wanted a more comfortable life than what her parents could offer. She wanted a life without rules or morals to limit her actions. Her boyfriend offered her exactly what she wanted. She could have all the possessions and freedom she could want. They could live as they wanted and didn't have her parents or the Church to force laws on her. He gave her what she wanted.

Our Lord however, gave her what she needed. He loved her. He was not nice to her. He had her live a life of penance. The self-denial of penance burned off of her all the sinful wants and passions she had-especially her strong-willed-ness. It also developed the virtues she needed back when she was a teenager-especially submissiveness. Love is not about making the other person happy and giving them what they want. Love is about giving the other what they need to be happy in eternity. It is hard work in this life. There is no other way to get to this eternally-lasting happiness, a single instant that exists infinitely and that instant is a joy far greater than anything we ever could have in this life. Love is about doing it right, no matter how hard it is; not doing it the way that will get us to happiness the easiest. The hard work of penance pays off with the pleasures and joys that Our Lord can give. Now, it is solely up to Him to give such consolations and joys. We cannot give ourselves pleasure through prayer. The only way we can feel pleasure through prayer is if we beg God to come down and spend time with us. He alone can give us that enjoyment and pleasure we seek. Hic est Caritas. This is (True) Love.

Friday, January 21, 2011

St. Agnes and the Beauty of the Human Body.

Feast of St. Agnes - III Class

When St. Agnes was 13 years old, roman authorities tried to force her to offer incense to the idol Minerva, but she refused and the prefect Sempronius sentenced her to death for refusing to worship false gods and also refusing to marry his son. Since virgins could not be executed by roman law, so was stripped nude and put on public display at at brothel. Because of this law, it was common for virgin-martyrs to be sent to a brothel, but after successfully guarding their virginity, the romans killed them anyway, contrary to their own law. This was no exception. Every man that looked at her lustfully was struck blind. She was to be burned at the steak, but the flames avoided her, so she was beheaded. This is her head:

A woman's body is the greatest masterpiece of the Divine Artist, the last thing He created. In physical creation, it has the greatest dignity and is the ultimate creation. It is God's work of art. It has a great beauty innate to it, just because it was created by God. It has the great privilege in assisting God in the act of creation by being able to conceive and bear children. Since a woman's body is God's greatest physical creation, the masterpiece of the Divine Artist, is it a very grave offence to take advantage of a woman's body for pleasure. When women actually let men act lustfully and invite them to do so, it is even more scandalous. Using a woman's body for lust is a great sacrilege. It distorts and perverts the beauty and dignity given to it by God. She stops being a person and becomes an object, a piece of meat there to provide sexual pleasure. Anyone who abuses the body and desecrates God's greatest creation certainly deserves to be struck blind. Simply put, if you can't look at God's masterpiece without violating it's dignity and wanting to take advantage of it for your own pleasure, you shouldn't be allowed to look at all.