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

Friday, May 13, 2011

Three Little Words? Try Three Big Nails.

[EDIT: This is a repost from Thursday, May 12, 2011 due to the Blogger server failure]

During the Easter Season I'll be bringing you gems from St. Faustina's Diary, after reading it for Lent. Today we have an illustration of the difference between love and infatuation:
Diary of St. Faustina, 324
Pure love gives the soul strength at the very moment of dying. When I was dying on the cross, I was not thinking about Myself, but about poor sinners, and I prayed for them to My Father. I want your last moments to be completely similar to Mine on the cross. There is but one price at which souls are bought, and that is suffering united to My suffering on the cross. Pure love understands these words; carnal love will never understand them.
Love is willing to suffer. When you love someone, you desire to be with them so much that no price is too high. The desire is not one of wanting the person to come to you, that you might have good times with them. That would be infatuation. That is what Our Lord here calls "carnal love". Such "love" is rightly called "carnal" because in the first place, lust is the main fuel for it's fire. It seeks to use the other to attain happiness. The person is looking for good times and wants to use the other as the means to get there. It sees the other as a source of pleasure. Carnal "love" has no desire for sacrifice, only for good times, because it is not attracted to the whole person. It is attracted to specific physical or psychological aspects of the person, and only because of the pleasure they afford. The deeper the infatuation, the more parts or aspects are desired (theoretically even all parts of the person), but it always a collection of parts. It does not see the other as a whole person. It only sees parts, even then only those parts that offer pleasure. It is always a motion towards you, of gaining pleasure, never a motion away from you, of offering yourself for their greater good. Second, it is rightly called "carnal" because it is a human attraction. It is not Divine in any way. It has humanity as it's source and end. It is completely and totally human. As a result it is mortal, vain, and ultimately weak. No matter how strong it might become or how long it might last, it cannot endure forever. It must of necessity end, because it is not from God. It does not lead to any good, but only down "to the inner chambers of death." (cf. Prov. 7:27).

What Our Blessed Lord calls "pure love" is the only emotion that can truthfully be called love. It does not seek to gain happiness, but rather to give one's self to the other. The motion is not towards you (as with infatuation), but away from you and towards the beloved. Love is in and of itself sacrificial. It is a desire to offer everything you have and everything you are for the other person's greater good. It sees the other as a whole person, not someone who has certain attractive body parts and behaves in an attractive way at certain times. It is one single person, not divided into good and bad aspects, but the whole person and his/her greater good is desired. Love is a desire to give everything, your whole self, for their sake. You want to sacrifice your very being for their greater good. It is that union of one person, the other person, and love that alone brings joy. Good times are not desired, but rather the other person's companionship through life, through good times and bad, going through life together, always helping each other. Union with this whole person and their greater good is desired. When the fire of love burns, it burn so hotly that the person is willing to undergo great suffering for the sake of the beloved. The fire of love empowers you such that you are willing to make any sacrifice for the sake of the beloved, even give your very life.

This fire is not from man. It is the Holy Ghost. Love is a grace. Only a grace, which is the presence of the Holy Ghost, can allow someone to love another as God loves that person. With God as the constant source, this love does not fade. The flesh might become weak, but the spirit is always willing. It does not end when life gets difficult, rather it strengthens the lover when life gets difficult, so that the lover might act for the sake of the beloved. It is with this same love that Christ loves His Bride the Church. He is the source of this love. This love radiates from Him and into married couples, to people towards their family members, and all those who truly care for some another person. They only love each other insofar as their love is a reflection of His love for His Bride. When we consider the fact that this love is the love with which Christ loves the Church, everything makes sense. The Incarnation makes sense. The Passion makes sense. His condemnation of lukewarmness and syncretism with other religions make sense. The Eucharist, both as a sacrifice and as the intimacy between Christ and His Bride, makes sense. All of Christ's behavior becomes clear and makes perfect sense when seen under the light of the Burning Sun of Love. Indeed, is that not what the Apostle tells us? No man can call Jesus Lord, except by the Holy Ghost. (1 Cor. 12:3). That Burning Sun of Love is the Holy Ghost.