Sunday, September 18, 2011
I Love You, That Means I Don't Love You
Epistle: Gal. 5:16-24 [The desires of the spirit and the lusts of the flesh.]
Gospel: Mt. 6:21-33 [Service of two masters; God provides for our needs.]
Full Latin-English propers here.
I've mentioned it in the past that the English language is inadequate in describing love. There are two words in Latin that are translated love. The problem is that they are contrary to one another. Dilectio is a self-less, sacrificial desire. It is supernatural. It is a grace from God that moves the person to sacrifice themselves to take care of another in this life and into the next. Amor is a natural human emotion that seeks pleasure and a happy life from another. Dilectio is self-less and giving, expecting nothing in return, whereas amor is selfish and only seeks to gain happiness and good times. The Greeks call dilectio agape and amor philos. Some might argue that using the terms amor and philos to refer to lust is an insult to the words amor and philos.
However, the English language (which isn't alone on the matter, Portuguese makes the same mistake) insists on translating the two words the same way. St. Paul tells us plainly today that "these are contrary one to another". Indeed one is supernatural, the other natural. One is self-less, the other selfish. St. Paul also says that both change you "so that you do not the things that you would." While lust is a part of human nature, it isn't supposed to exist. It is a part of fallen human nature. It degrades the human person, created by God, and not just one of God's creatures, but the masterpiece of the Divine Artist, endowed with a certain beauty above all creation. Lust degrades this person with such great beauty into a piece of flesh to be used for pleasure. She, a person created by God for a purpose He Himself selected, becomes but an object used for someone's pleasure.
Dilectio on the other hand, is not natural. It never was and never will be. It is supernatural. It is a grace from God. It is the very Love of God, the fire of the Holy Ghost, between two people. It is God teaching them how to care for each other, that His love for His Bride the Church, giving His whole Self for Her on the cross, might be reflected as clearly as possible in their love for each other. When someone loves another, he does not look at her the way everyone else looks at her. He sees her differently. He looks at her the way God looks at her. That is love; God teaches him to look at his beloved the way God looks at her. God elevates him above his natural ways of thinking to Divine ways of thinking; that he might see the bigger picture: her Divinely designed place in this word and the two extreme opposite possibilities for the next life: the glory of Heaven and the eternal fire of Hell. Love famously changes you, but it is a sad error in judgement to mistake one for the other and say that dilectio is bad or amor is good. The two are so extremely contrary to each other that the difference is literally the difference between Heaven and Hell.