In gathering together these writings/articles I intend to draw on whatever I can find which refers to love. All quotations will be given their reference. As I begin this work I am very excited at what I might discover. My preconception is that because God is love it is only when we see God that we will understand the true meaning of Love.
The Imitation of Christ. Book 2 Chapter 7. On the Love of Jesus above all things.
How blessed are those who know how good it is to love Jesus and to despise themselves for His sake. Jesus wills to be loved alone above all other things and we must forsake all other loves but His.
The love of creatures deceives and fails, but Jesus’ love is ever faithful and enduring. Those who cling to creatures will fall with them: but those who always cling to Jesus will stand firm forever.
Love Him and keep Him for your friend; for when all others forsake you, he will not leave you nor let you perish in the end. Sooner or later you must be separated from all creatures, whether you will it or not.
Remain close to Jesus in life and in death, committing yourself to his faithful keeping. When all others fail you, He will help you. However, your Beloved is of such a nature that He will not accept a divided heart; but will have it for Himself alone and will reign there as a king on his throne.
If only you could empty your heart of every creature, how gladly would Jesus come and dwell with you. All those other things which you placed your trust besides Jesus, you can consider as almost a complete loss. “All mankind is grass, and all their glory like the flower of the field” (Is 40:6)
If you only observe outward appearances, you will soon be deceived; and if you seek consolation or benefit from others, more often than no you will suffer loss. But if in all things you look to Jesus, you will most certainly find Him.
To seek yourself is to find yourself – but to your own destruction. If you do not seek your Lord, you do more harm to yourself than do all worldly temptations and all your enemies.
The Imitation of Christ. Book 2. Chapter 11. On the Small Number of the lovers of the Cross
Jesus has man lovers of His heavenly Kingdom, but few cross-bearers. Many desire His consolation, but few His tribulation. Many will sit down with Him a table, but few will share His fast. All desire to rejoice with Him, but few will suffer for Him.
Many will follow Him to the breaking of the bread, but few will drink the bitter cup of His Passion. Many revere His miracles, but few follow the shame of His cross. Many love Jesus when all goes well with them, and praise Him when he does them a favour; but if Jesus conceals Himself and leaves them for a little while, they fall to complaining or become depressed.
They who love Jesus purely for Himself and not for their own sake bless Him in all trouble and anguish as well as in time of consolation. Even if He never sent them consolation, they would still praise Him and give Him thanks.
Oh how powerful is the pure love of Jesus, when not mixed with self-interest or self-love! Are not they to be called hirelings who always look for comforts? And they who think only of their own advantage, do they not show themselves to be lovers of self rather than of Christ? Where will a person be found ready to serve God without looking for a reward?
It is hard to find anyone so spiritual who is willing to be stripped of all things. Where will you find a person truly poor in spirit and free from all attachment to creatures? Such a one is a rare treasure brought from distant shores. (cf. Prov. 31:14).
If we were to give up all or possessions, it is still nothing; if we did severe penance, it is but little; if we acquired all knowledge, still are we far from virtue. Even if we had great virtue and fervent devotion, we would be lacking that one thing necessary above all else.
And what is that one thing? That leaving all things behind, we should leave self, renouncing our self completely and keeping nothing of self-love. And then when we have done all things that we know we ought to do, let us think that we have done nothing.
We should not regard as great that which may be considered so by others, but rather let us in truth look upon ourselves as worthless servants. As our Lord, the truth has said: “When you have done all you have been commanded to do, say. ‘We are useless servants’”. (Luke 17:10). Then will we be truly poor in spirit and able to say with the Prophet: “I am alone and afflicted” (Ps 25:16). Yet there is no one richer or more powerful, no one more free than we are if we know how to renounce ourselves and all things, putting ourselves in the lowest place.
The Imitation of Christ. Book 3. Chapter 5. On the Wonderful Effect of the love of God.
Disciple: May You be blessed, O Heavenly Father, Father of my Lord, Jesus Christ, because You have consented to be mindful of me, poor sinner that I am. O Father of mercy and God of all comfort, I thank You, that sometimes You are pleased to console me with Your gracious presence, though I am unworthy of such consolation.
I bless You and glorify You always, together with Your Son and the Holy Spirit, the comforter, forever and ever. O my Lord, God, most faithful Lover, when You come into my heart, my whole being is filled with joy. You are my glory and the joy of my heart; my hope and refuge in the time of tribulation.
You know how weak in love and imperfect in virtue I am and how much I stand in need of Your strength and comfort. Please, Lord, visit me often and instruct me in Your holy teachings.
Deliver me from evil passions and heal my heart from all disorderly affections, so that being healed inwardly and well purified, I may become ready to love You, strong to suffer for You., and firm to persevere.
Love is a strong force – a great good in every way; it alone can make our burdens light, and alone it bears in equal balance what is pleasing and displeasing. It carries a burden and does not feel it; it makes all that is bitter taste sweet.
The noble love of Jesus urges us to do great things and spurs us on to desire perfection. Love tends upward to God and is not occupied with the things of earth. Love also will be free from all affections, so that its inner vision does not become dimmed, nor does it let itself be trapped by any temporal interest or downcast by misfortune.
Nothing is sweeter then love, nothing higher, nothing stronger, nothing larger, nothing more joyful, nothing fuller, nothing better in heaven or on earth; for love is born of God, and can find its rest only in God above all He created.
Such lovers fly high, run swiftly and rejoice. Their souls are free; they give all and have all in all. For they rest in One Supreme Goodness above all things, from Whom all other good flows and proceeds. They look not only at the gifts, but at the Giver, Who is above all gifts.
Love knows no limits, but is fervent above all measure. It feels no burden, makes light of labour, desiring to do more then it is able. Nothing is impossible to love, for it thinks that it can and may do all things for the Beloved.
Therefore it does and effects many things while those who do not love falter and fail.
Love is ever watchful; it rests, but does not sleep; though weary, it is not tired; restricted, yet not hindered. Although it sees reason to fear, it is not dismayed; but like a spark of fire or a burning flame, it blazes upward to God by the fervour of its love, and through the help of His grace is delivered from all dangers.
Those who love thus know well what their voices mean when they cry out to God with all the ardour of their soul: You, Lord God, are my whole love and all my desire. You are mine and I am all Yours.
Let my heart expand in Your love. Let me learn to know how sweet it is to serve You, how joyful it is to praise You, and to be dissolved in Your love. Oh, I am possessed by love and rise above myself because of the great fervour I feel through Your infinite goodness.
I will sing the canticle of love to You and will follow You, my Beloved, wherever You go, and may my soul never weary of praising You, rejoicing in Your love. I will love You more than myself and myself only for Yours sake; I will love all others in You and for You, as Your law of love commands.
Love is swift, sincere, pious, joyful and glad; it is strong patient, faithful, wise, forbearing, courageous, and is never self-seeking; for when people seek themselves, they cease to love.
Love is cautious, humble and upright; not weak, not flighty, not concerned with trifles. It is sober, chaste, firm, quiet, and keeps guard over the senses.
Love is submissive and obedient to authority, mean and despicable in its own sight, devout and thankful to God. Love always trusts and hopes in God, even when it lacks fervour; for there is no living in love without some sorrow or pain.
Those who are not always ready to suffer and to stand disposed to the will of their Beloved are not worthy to be called lovers; for lovers must gladly embrace all hardships and bitter things for their beloved, and never allow themselves to turn away from Him by adversity.
The Imitation of Christ. Book 3. Chapter 6. On the Proof of a True Lover.
Christ: My child, you are not yet a valiant and wise lover.
Disciple: Why Lord?
Christ: Because with a little adversity you leave off what you have begun and eagerly seek outward consolation. Valiant lovers of God stand firm in time of temptation and pay no attention to the deceitful suggestions of their enemy, the devil. When all goes well with them, I please them; and so do I please them when things go wrong.
Wise lovers do not consider the gift of the Lover as much as they do the love of the Giver. They look more at the love than at the value of the gift; for their Beloved is far above His gifts. Generous lovers are not content with the gift, but desire Me above any gift I can give them.
Therefore, do not be discouraged if sometimes you have less devotion towards Me or My Saints than you would wish. On the other hand, that good, spiritual desire you feel now and then toward your Lord is the gift of grace given to you for your comfort in this life and a foretaste of heavenly glory.
But it is not good to rely too much on such comforts that come and go, according to the will of the Giver. Strive always against temptations of the devil, for this is a sign of virtue and of great merit.
Do not permit strange fantasies to disturb you no matter what suggests them. Hold to your resolutions and keep your intentions fixed on Me; nor think it is an illusion if sometimes you are rapt in ecstasy and then suddenly return to your usual levity of heart.
For these you endure unwillingly, and as long as you do not encourage them and they displease you, they will be cause merit for you and not loss.
You know that our enemy, the devil, uses every means he can to keep you from your good works and your prayer life – namely, from the worship you owe to Me and the veneration of the Saints, from meditating on my Passion, from the profitable reflection on your sins, from keeping watch over your heart and from a firm resolve to advance in virtue,
This fiend will suggest many idle and evil thoughts to draw you away from prayer and weary you with spiritual reading and other good works. A humble confession is obnoxious to him and, he will prevent you from receiving Holy Communion. Do not believe him, and pay no attention to him no matter how often he tries to trap you.
Turn his malice against him, saying to him: Begone, Satan, you wicked spirit, and be ashamed, for you are foul to suggest such things to me. Depart from me, you father of lies. You shall have no hold on me; for Jesus Christ, my Saviour, is with me as my valiant defender, and you shall be put to flight in utter confusion.
I would rather die in torment than give in to you. Be silent and cease your malice, for I will not listen to you no matter how much you tempt me. The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? Though an army encamp against me, my heart will not fear, for the Lord is my help and my deliverer. (Ps 27:1, 3; 40:-18)
Fight on like a good soldier’; and if sometimes through weakness you fall, get up again and with greater strength than before, trust in My abundant grace. But be on your guard against self-complacency and pride; for it is through these that many are led into error, and sometimes into an almost incurable blindness of soul.
Let the downfall of those who foolishly rely on themselves be a warning to you and keep you always humble.
Thus is the proof of a true lover.
The Imitation of Christ. Book 4. Chapter 17. On a Burning Love and Eager Desire to Receive Christ.
Disciple: With all devotion and ardent love, with all the affectionate longing of my heart, my Lord and my God, I desire to receive You, just as many Saints and devout souls, whose holiness of life and burning devotion were especially pleasing to You, have desired to receive you in Holy Communion.
Blessed Lord, eternal love, my highest good and never-ending joy, I desire to receive You with such longing and reverence as any of the Saints have had, or ever could have experienced.
Of course, I am unworthy to have all those feelings of devotion; nevertheless I offer You the entire love of my heart, just as if I were the only one with those most pleasing and burning desires. Whatever a devout mind can think of or long for I offer to You, with all due reverence and interior fervour. I wish to hold nothing back for myself, but, with great freedom and a willing heart, I wish to offer to You my whole being and all that is mine.
O Lord God, my Creator and Redeemer, I desire to receive You with great affection, reverence, praise and honour, with such gratitude, worthiness and love, and with that faith, hope and purity with which Your holy Mother, the glorious Virgin Mary, desired and received You when she humbly and devoutly answered the Angel Gabriel – who announced the joyous tidings of the mystery of the Incarnation to her – saying “I am the servant of the Lord. Let it be done to me as you say” (Luke 1:38).
Your blessed forerunner – most excellent among the Saints - John the Baptist, in Your presence leaped for joy, through the Holy Spirit, while still in his mother’s womb. Later on, when he saw You walking among the people, with utter humility and devout affection he said: “The groom’s best man waits there listening for him and is overjoyed to hear his voice” (John 3:29). So I also wish to be inflamed with great and holy desires, and to offer myself to You with all my heart.
For this reason I offer and present to You all the praise of devout hearts, their ardent affection, their ecstasies, their spiritual insights, their heavenly visions, with all the virtues and praises that ever will be offered by all creatures in heaven or on earth. I offer them for myself and for all those for whom I have been asked to pray, that You may be worthily praised and glorified forever by all human beings.
Accept my prayers, O Lord my God, and my desire to give You infinite praise and blessing, which are rightfully due to You because of Your surpassing greatness. All these I give You and desire to give You every day and every moment of time.
With these dispositions and prayers, I invite and entreat all the heavenly spirits, as well as all the faithful, to join me in thanking and praising You.
May all peoples, tribes and tongues praise You, magnifying Your holy and sweet Name with great joy and ardent devotion. May all who, with reverence and devotion, celebrate this most sublime Sacrament and receive it with unwavering faith, deserve to find grace and mercy from You; and may they make supplication for me, a sinner.
When they have obtained the devotion they desired, and that spiritual union with You at Your holy and heavenly altar – being greatly refreshed and consoled – may they remember me, a poor creature.
A talk given by Fr Mario Knezovic in February 2006 during a Medjugorje Apostolate Retreat at The Emmaus Centre, South London.
I believe that after praying the joyful mysteries of the Holy Rosary we can feel joy in our hearts. In one of Our Lady’s messages she said, “Pray until prayer becomes joy for you”. It’s hard work, the hardest thing is to pray. Prayer forms the man, that’s why it’s hard. Prayer provokes changes within us and that’s why people are running away from it. We shouldn’t be the same after saying prayers, that’s why many run away. They do not want to take life seriously. The life of faith is very challenging and difficult because to obtain great things you always have to make a lot of sacrifices. There is no easy way.
Usually, on Tuesdays people come to me for spiritual talks. They come from different parts and from quite far. Most of the situations are alike and people think they will solve their problems instantly. They think just one meeting is enough. If this were so easy we would open a service where you could spend 15 minutes and solve all the problems and then you go home. That is not the way. Then we say to people that they should give something of themselves. “What are you ready to put into it so that things are changed?” Other people cannot change the situation. We are the ones who should do it. Other people can just show us the way. They could help us to walk. We are at the service of a mother who is teaching her child to walk. The child has to start walking himself. Then there is the father waiting, saying, “Come, Come” and the child is walking. That’s the way with our spiritual counselling. God is the Father who is waiting for you, who is calling you. We are the people who are just holding you and we just say, “Go there”. You need to have courage. You try and maybe you fall, maybe you get only half way, but without risk you will never, ever get there. That’s the image that shows what that kind of spiritual help means. We have to go on that way.
I would have read all the books about how to become a priest, everything about St. Francis I could know, everything, but still not become a priest. You have to go through that way, and you have to do it by yourself. There is no one else to do it for you, there is no replacement.
I believe that you understand and realise that the faith is something that you are doing your best for during your whole life and pilgrimages and retreats are just traffic signs for you to show how to get to God. That is where you take food so that you can go forward. Many people are disappointed with the Church because they think it can solve their problems quickly and easily, but God wants to make us capable to go to Eternity. He doesn’t want us just for a certain period of time, He wants us to go to Eternity. He doesn’t want to repair us a little bit; a few patches and then we can continue. It’s about Eternity and you can’t do it very quickly. Today, we are repairing cars and we do it very quickly because we are not worried if they work just for a month or maybe a year. But if we want to function eternally then we have to invest our whole lives and then comes the joy. Life in regard to eternity is nothing, and that’s why we should lose it.
This morning, I would like to say something about love, love that today is so much dishonoured. There are many, many young people who say today “we made love?” “How can you do it?” Then I say to the young people in my parish “come and show me how you made love.” Then they are very ashamed. Today when you say “you made love” it’s all about sex and that is the wrong way, that’s where the confusion starts. That’s where we become ridiculous. We just want to cover with love, what is not love, and love is something more profound. Everything has to be the fruit of love, everything has to come out of love. All the work should be stimulated by love. Love is not only something that covers our stupidity, it’s the source of all we do.
Remember when Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me, Peter?” And Peter said, “You know Lord that I love you.” And Jesus asked him again, “Do you love me?” Peter says again, “I do love you Lord.” And then again he asked him, “Peter, do you love me?” And then Peter said, “Lord, you know well that I love you.” What does it mean, ‘you know it?’ It means God knows everything, because we can’t lie when it comes to love. Love is something that is felt. Someone can say to us I love you a hundred times and still we do not feel it. Love is not only a speech. Today that speech of love is killing so many people. Many criminals are covered by it who, out of love are killing other people, because they say they wish them well. They say “we don’t want them to feel so much pain”. He loves his father so much that he performs euthanasia because it’s hard for him to serve him, to take pampers for him. “Why do I need this kind of Father? Its better for him to die, I don’t want to see him suffer.” Together with the doctors, out of love, we will kill him. But when you were a baby, and wearing Pampers, your Father and your Mother, were there to clean you whenever it was necessary. I believe you can understand what I am saying. That‘s the world of selfishness, the world that abuses love, and in the worst possible ways, ridicules love and mocks love.
God knows, if we love him, other people know if we love them. You yourself can feel if and when someone loves you and you feel well then. Love shouldn’t be proved, love should be shown. Love is not a parade; it should be felt. Love is not an adventure, love is sacrifice. Love is giving in eternity. Jesus teaches us so well how to do it. Only out of love, he sacrificed himself for us. Love brought him to the cross, nothing else. He loved us so much that God gave his son for us. That’s why we should be educated in this kind of love, because we can live only out of that love.
Many people are suffering today because they did not feel loved. Children go through traumas because the father and mother did not want them. Maybe they wanted to abort that child and yet the child is born and for the full life that child has different traumas because of not being loved. Love is not manifested by feelings only, that’s a social kind of love. Love is shown by acceptance and by suffering, with joy to know that someone does exist.
There was a girl who committed adultery. She was caught by the police and she was imprisoned. She was a total mess. Then in the prison another prisoner spoke to her. After a certain time that prisoner said to her that he loved her that he cared about her. After that the girl was completely changed. She said that for the first time in my life I heard that somebody loves me that he cared about me. If someone had said that to me when I was a little child things would not have happened this way. Love changes, love is provoking positive reactions, but love that comes from God. This world cannot give love, because the world doesn’t have it. Man is not someone who produces love, he is only giving what he is receiving. He is a water pipe, they are not the source of the water, they just direct the water and transfer it to another place. That’s what we are. What we take from the source we should put inside of us and then give it to other people. It would be stupid to open a pipe that doesn’t give any water. We have to give, because we receive. That’s why it’s always important to go to the source, to the spring, and the spring of love is God. The Holy Bible tells us ‘God is love’. The one who is in God, love is within. The moment you lose the connection with God there is no love of God within. Then we start acting love, we become actors on a stage, empty. And all around us we say, “ I love you” but people do not feel that love.
Sometimes I share this with pilgrims, especially Americans say “ I love you” a lot. This is not common in our country. That’s the sign that people are thirsty for love. Recently people have been hugging and kissing each other a lot. All that is a sign that we do thirst for love. Where love is real and lived that’s not necessary. Where we love and they love it’s just enough to say, “ I love you “. I can feel and I know that. Today, unfortunately we have to prove it, because there is no trust. We do not know who loves us and who doesn’t love us, who wishes us well or who wishes us bad things, because man mocked love and he calls everything ‘love’. That’s why young people today make love. They do not live love, they make love.
There was a boy, who was writing a letter to his girlfriend; “My dear one, I love you so much. For you I am ready to cross all the seas, to climb all the mountains. I am ready to do anything for you my love. Tomorrow I’ll come to visit you if its not raining.” There were a lot of promises, but when a little bit of a trial comes we do not want to do anything. You do not live on fairy tales, but you live on reality. That’s why we are always having to ask: ‘with what kind of love do we love?’ Where is the crisis of our love? Why, maybe, do we not have good relationships with our children? Why are there conflicts between husbands and wives? The problem comes because people become selfish and selfishness cannot speak the language of love. The language of love is unity. The language of love is someone else. The language of selfishness is ‘me’, only me, but if there is only me existing then there is no room for someone else. Jesus always cared about others. “What do you want me to do? What is the cause of your pain? What’s bothering you? Jesus is asking people “where do you feel pain?” He takes care of others. He does not want to be served, but he wants to serve. He washes the feet of his disciples. All the logic says that they were the ones who should have washed his feet. Jesus loves so much that he is ready to do everything. That is not a humiliation for him. Showing love can never, ever be that. Love is always humble, love cannot be proud. That’s why Jesus is ready to take off his shoes and allow Mary Magdalene to wash his feet, and he is ready to wash other people’s feet. This brings us to the conclusion that love has no limits. Love can do everything. Saint Augustine said, “Love and do what you want.” If you love in the right way then you cannot do something wrong.
Love has to be sensitive to other people. Love should never, ever despise, regardless of what other people do to us. Everyone has the right to be weak. We should not destroy them, we should be understanding and compassionate. Jesus never, ever pushed someone away from him. He even allowed Judas to kiss him. He was not angry with Peter who denied him and later on, he entrusted the church to him. That’s because Jesus knows about human weakness and love has to recognise that in other people.
In a marriage you have to recognise when you feel and see that your wife is not doing well, and you have to bring her back to life again and not push her towards the tomb. And vice versa, the wife should do the same for the husband. You have to recognise in love when your husband is having a bad time. What’s troubling him? You have to be the lamp and not turn off the last light in his darkness. Love performs miracles and love can do everything. In 1 Corinthians we hear, ‘If I do not have love I would be nothing.’
Love can move mountains.
Jesus once said to his disciples when they were afraid, “If you only had faith the size of a little mustard seed you would be able to do anything you wished!” Imagine that little tiny seed, but in that tiny thing the great love is hidden.
Today the problem in the world is that parents do not have time and they are trying to buy love for their children. They do not have time to pray with them, to talk with them. They buy them motorbikes and then when the child needs something we say “ please leave me alone, I am going to buy you a new mobile phone.” So we raise them without them feeling love. Imagine how they are going to be with their children, because that’s the chain that becomes smaller and smaller. It is our duty to give our children love and a relationship with God. Our children do not need Santa Claus who will bring them gifts. Our children need parents who will talk with them, who will cry with them, who will spend their time with them.
Who do you love most? Jesus - if this is true then God will be happy but also everyone around us will be happy. If a husband says he loves Jesus more than his wife, the wife will not be jealous. But if he says he loves his colleague’s wife more than her then the war will start.
Do you know how wars start? A little boy called Marco asked his father how the wars start. The father and mother were in the house. The father was reading the newspaper and the mother was working in the kitchen. The father said to his son, “let’s say that USA and Britain quarrel about something”. The mother heard that and said, “That is not possible that USA and Britain start a fight.” The father said, “ but let’s just say that it’s like that.” The mother says, “But that’s impossible so do not say the stupid things to my son.” The father replies, “ But you already have filled his head with so many stupid things.” Marco then says, “Now I know how wars start.” It all starts from tiny little things and finishes with major battles. We should not be looking for great things, but for small things and they will grow within us. Let us work with God and let us pray for those we find difficult and hard to be with. Let us pray for peace. Our Lady wants peace, peace in our hearts. Peace is not bought, we are given it. It is born within us and then we share it with others.
Try to speak the language of love. I think there are four words that you should use every day, especially if you are married: “I love you, thank you, well done, and forgive me”. That will give birth to a new relationship that truly will be love that is lived. Love praises and love forgives. Love encourages, love will not be quiet. Love wants to say, “I love you” and to say, “well done.” Love wants to give thanks and to say, “thank you.” Love forgives so many, many times. I love you, not as God loves you, my love is fragile.
Extract from ‘The Children of Medjugorje.’
Padre Pio Speaks of Love
Jesus repeats these words to me whenever he sends me new crosses “Love is recognised in suffering and you will feel this acutely in your soul and even more acutely in your body”
How do you know when you love somebody? Is it by the good thoughts you have about them when they come to mind? is it by the warmth of your heart’s good intentions for them? What is love? Sometimes it can be seen as if everybody talks about love but nobody can really tell what it is. Jesus held up love as our universal calling. Wouldn’t it be marvellous to be able to reach the pure source of love?
The good news is that we can reach that source. Here and now, whenever you are reading this, Love can reach you. In Saint John’s letter we read ‘God is love’ (1 John 416). Many of us have already known and put our faith in God’s love for us. It is a wonderful thing that without any merit on our part, we can receive such an overwhelming gift. Finding ourselves loved, we can only be glad and make some sort of loving return.
If we are loved like this, how can we ever come to the point of thinking ourselves unlovable? No matter what wrong we have done it is impossible to be unloved by God. By keeping our attention on His goodness and constancy to us, we are freed from condemning ourselves and from the condemnations we receive from other people. Love doesn’t depend on us. Love existed before us. To paraphrase the words of Saint John, ‘Love was with God and Love was God’ (cf John 1:1). All we have to do is rely on it.
The more secure we become in our faith in Jesus – who is the perfect image of God’s love – the more delightful it becomes for us to grow in making a loving return. First comes God’s constant love for us; then comes the joy of growth in our human response to Him. What is the secret of that growth? There are two: keeping our minds on the source, and preparing to love more though sacrifice.
In the Old Testament, the Spirit inspires the prophet to write: ‘What I want is love, not sacrifice: Knowledge of God, not holocausts.’ (Hosea 6:6) This sacrifice is the ritual killing of animals, not the self-giving of a generous heat. Our growth in love is the sacrifice that pleases God: ‘A sacrifice of praise, a verbal sacrifice is offered every time we acknowledge Jesus; name’. It is ‘the good works we do and the way we share resources’. (Hebrews 13:15-16).
What can I give God for what He has done for me? What can I say about it? Nothing is adequate because I am only human, but He loves my doing and saying nonetheless. We do not suffer the mystical wounds that Padre Pio bore for us so many years, but we do have wounds – from the times we take opportunities to sacrifice ourselves in love for others and for the Lord. This how we can know whether or not we are growing in our response to Love: by how often we stand up to others when their wishes would lead us away.
Suffering is the proof of love. Suffering is not a good thing, but to bear it for the good of others or for God’ sake is love full-grown. Padre Pio could suffer because he says ‘My heart has at last found a Love so attached to me that I am incapable of hurting Him any more. You already know this love. He is one who is never angry with those who offend Him.’
Brother Loarne From the National Shrine of Padre Pio. Pantasaph Franciscan Friary.
Benedict Proclaims the Truth About Love. Catholic Herald 27/04/06
Pope Benedict XVI has published his first encyclical, a spiritual meditation on love through which he aims to ‘reawaken hope’ in the world.
The 50 page document, entitled Deus Caritas Est (God is Love). was to be released to the press on Wednesday. In unscripted remarks to thousands of pilgrims at the Vatican last week, it was Pope Benedict himself who announced the date of publication. “In this encyclical I want to explain the concept of love in its various dimensions,” he said during a general audience at St Peter’s.
“In today’s terminology ‘love’ often seems something very remote from what a Christian thinks when he speaks of charity. I would like to show that it is one movement with different dimensions!
He explained that eros, the “gift of love between a man and a woman”, came from the same source of the goodness of the Creator as does agape, the possibility of a love which renounces the self in favour of the other. “The eros is transformed into agape in the measure in which the two really love each other and one no longer seeks his own joy and pleasure but seeks first of all the goods of the other person, Benedict said. He added that this represented a “journey of purification” from the family to the larger families of society, the Church and the world.
The Pope also alluded to the second part of the encyclical. Which examines the Church’s charitable work in relation to love. He said the personal act of love that comes to humanity from God should be reflected in the Church’s actions as an institution. He said he considered it providential that the encyclical would come out on the day he will close the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. While not focused on ecumenism, he said, the encyclical’s foundation is ecumenical because “God’s love and our love is the condition for unity among Christians and for peace in the world”.
Pope Benedict sometimes improvises during public appearances but his surprise announcement is only the second unexpected statement he has made during his nine-month pontificate. The last time he spoke extemporaneously on a major development was in May last year when he told the Roman clergy that he was opening the cause of Pope John Paul II.
He again spoke about his encyclical on Monday when he addressed the Pontifical Conference Cor Unum, the charitable arm of the Holy See, held to mark its publication. “Today the word ‘love’ is so wasted, consumed and abused that one if almost afraid to let it form on the lips.” he said, adding that he wanted to purify people’s ideas about love so “it can enlighten our lives”.
“It is this awareness that led me to choose love as the theme for my first encyclical. In an age when hatred and greed have become superpowers, in and age when we see religion abused to the point of becoming the deification of hatred, neutral rationalisation alone cannot protect us,” he said. “We need the living God who loved us to the point of death.”
“I wanted to show the humanity of faith, which includes eros – the ‘yes’ by God, a ‘yes’ that in the indissoluble marriage of a man and a woman finds its form rooted in creation,” he said. “It is there that eros transforms itself into agape, in which love for another no longer seeks itself, but becomes concern for the other, a willingness to sacrifice for him and openness to the gift of a new human life.”
Pope Benedict explained that when the love a Christian brings into the world is a love motivated by God’s love for all people, “our love will change the world and reawaken hope, a hope that goes beyond death”.
Opening the conference, German Archbishop Paul Cordes, president of Cor Unum. Said that by reflecting on love and charity, Benedict showed himself to be “a shepherd who is aware of human feelings and desires”.
Archbishop Cordes said the Church was scorned for its teaching about love and human sexuality and accused of being like “a blind man talking about colours,” but “we have to dare to proclaim the truth about love”.
The archbishop, who helped to draft the encyclical, said it added a new chapter to the Church’s social teaching. He said Pope John Paul II had told him, he was planning a social encyclical on charity, “but he was not able to complete it”.
Archbishop Cordes added that some large Catholic aid agencies have been “tempted to drift away from the Church and the bishops”, identifying themselves simply as non-governmental organisations and not as part of the church’s mission to bring the love of Christy to the world.
Vatican sources said the encyclical was delayed by a number of revisions in the text and that translation of the revisions was completed on Tuesday last week. One said an earlier version was circulated to Vatican departments and key theologians last autumn, resulting in a number of suggested changes. Editing of the text included wording modifications, explanatory sections and revision of the conclusion, he said.
The encyclical takes its theme and title from the First Letter of John, “God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him”.
As the Catholic Herald went to press it was due to be released at a press conference attended by Archbishop William Levada, the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; Cardinal Renato Martini, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, and Archbishop Cordes.
Its publication, however, comes amid controversy over the Vatican’s reassertion of is copyright over works by the Pope. The Vatican’s publishing house, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, was accused by the Italian daily La Stampa of seeking to cash in on Deus Caritas Est, and “terrorise” editors and publishers with the threat of fees for reproducing the Pope’s work
The Vatican swiftly denied the accusations as well as reports that it would prevent newspapers quoting from the encyclical or charge organisations that reproduced passages from the work. It said that it sought only to protect against “piracy” of papal statements, the “premature” publication of leaked documents and the exploitation of the Pope’s name.
The Catholic Herald Editorial on the Above Article. NOT JUST WORDS.
Benedict reminds us that charity is love in action.
Pope Benedict’s first encyclical, Deus Caritas Est (God is Love), takes its title from the first letter of John. Jerome tell us that, as an old man St John’s message to the community had reduced itself to just five words: “Little children, love one another.” So our Pope lays down a marker for his pontificate: love is the heart and meaning of Christ’s message; the rest is detail. Even the laws, as Bernard Haring put it, are no more than the buoys which mark the entrance to the channel which leads to the harbour light.
But the central message of love is in danger of becoming no more than a truism. We all agree, and then go about our separate ways. So perhaps before settling down to study the encyclical we should pause and reflect about what we think love means.
Love is an abstract word, but a transitive verb. Love always has an object. Even in the nature of God himself this is true: from the infinite love between Father and Son is generated the Holy Spirit of love. And it is this spirit of love which sources the love of our human relationships. St John writes that “those who do not love a brother and sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen”.
But of course we have many relationships, so the forms of our love are multiple. Love of spouses in marriage, love of children, love of friends, love of colleagues, love of the poor, love of our enemies, all make different demands, dependent on the nature of the relationship. And so abstract love turns into concrete expression. Loving our neighbour as ourselves must start with understanding the needs of each particular neighbour, and how we may best minister to those needs.
Pope Benedict takes this analysis by distinguishing two forms of love within marriage itself: agape which is selfless love that desires the good of the other, and eros. Erotic love, taken on its own, is self-serving; it also has a limited life. But when passion in marriage is woven with agape it becomes a spiritual good: a religious act which binds the couple to God just as it binds them to each other. This is not a new doctrine, though it has often been forgotten but plainly taught by Aquinas. Moreover, it is a matter of experience that when agape and eros are so interwoven, the latter can continue indefinitely.
In the second part of his encyclical the Pope extends his teaching to the Church itself. The Church must love, not as some philanthropic organisation, but as an expression of the love of God mediated through its members. Though the encyclical is not specifically aimed at ecumenism Pope Benedict has noted the happy coincidence of its publication close to the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. And the Pope summarises the purpose of his encyclical with the words: ”For my part, I’d like to demonstrate that love expresses one movement with different dimensions.”
In preparing us for the encyclical the Pope has emphasised that there is only one true love. It starts in God who, in Dante’s happy description, has a human face, because he was impelled not only to create man through love but to enter the human condition and to sacrifice his life for us. It is the same love which is expressed through our human relationships, and the same love which is expressed through the Church.
The world is shot through with one, single love continuing to invite us all. “It is,” wrote St Paul, “No longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me…you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God.”
Our Holy Father may write many me encyclicals, but we doubt if any will be more important than this one. “Little children, love one another.” It can transform our lives, and transform the face of the Church,
God is Love. Mons. Gianni Danzi. Archbishop of Loreto.
Easter is the most eloquent, decisive and provocative sign that reveals to us who God is: God is love (1 John 8:16). A love so deep, infinite, personal and true that it went so far as to give its life for its beloved. “There is no greater love than this: to give up one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15, 13), says Jesus.
Jesus considers us his friends, and to make this friendship ever more firm, meaningful, true, and the space in which to realise one’s life, he accepted to die on the cross like a criminal, an accursed reprobate: “Accursed is he who hangs from the cross” we read in Deuteronomy 21.
What pinnacles God’s love for us reached! A love before which we can do nothing but kneel in gratitude and contemplation, so that this love might penetrate us, heal us, transfigure us and enable the beauty and preciousness hidden within each of us to emerge: our being created in God’s image and likeness, that it is in the image and likeness of He who is infinite beauty, freedom, joy, peace and merciful love.
What a mystery our person is! And this mystery finds its true light in contemplation of the mystery of the Lord’s Easter, in letting oneself be challenged and transformed by God’s love that accepted death on the cross for love of us and that, through the power of this same love, was resurrected on the third day.
Contemplating the resurrected one, who retains on his body the signs of the crucifixion, we understand what true love is: that love which alone can bring our life to realisation, which alone can satiate the need to love and be loved present in the depth of our being.
This love is the agape. In his Encyclical Deus caritas est, Pope Benedict XVI reveals to us the true face of love, disclosing to us the face of God: God is love.
The Holy Father underlines that if one swishes to understand the heart of Christian faith, and also its night of joy and hope, one must enter into the spirit of the words of St John the Apostle: “We have recognised the love God has for us and have believed in it” (1 John 4:16).
Thus being Christians does not mean following a philosophy of life, and ideology, a modus vivendi (way of life). Being Christians means living a personal encounter with God. It is this encounter which precedes one’s ethics of life and the ideals one pursues: “God so loved the world to give up his only Son that whoever believes in him might have eternal life” (John 3,16). Thus love is no longer only a commandment to obey but it is the response to the gift by which God comes forward to meet us, for it is He that loved us first.
Enrolling in the school of the crucified and resurrected God means learning to love. Contemplating Jesus dying on the cross, we have to learn to transform our human love into a love that opens to the spaces and dynamics of God’s eternal and infinite love.
In the above-mentioned Encyclical, the Holy Father guides us along a theological and spiritual path that leads us to understanding precisely how human love, that ancient Greece called eros, is summoned to ripen to its true greatness and beauty: when the Bible calls agape.
What is the difference between these two terms? Eros is desire for the other, agape is giving; eros is conquest, agape is grace; eros is noble self-affirmation, agape is detached love and giving oneself; eros is determined by the beauty and fascination of the other, agape loves and embraces the other just as he is, transfiguring him. The desire for possession that is concealed in eros is replaced in Christian agape by joyous giving, to the extent of giving up one’s life for one’s beloved.
That is why Jesus goes beyond the Bible itself that enjoined “loving one’s neighbour as one loves oneself” (Matthew 19,19) and brings agape to fulfilment by biding us to “love one another as he has loved us” (John 13,34) giving up his life, taking on the form of the slave on the cross.
To bring to fruition this ripening of eros into agape a path of asceticism, of renunciation, of purification and of healing is necessary.
Only then will the experience of love be an experience of freedom, of joy, of peace and one one’s personal self-realisation.
Extract from Magazine of The Shrine of the Holy House of Loreto.
Paul’s 1st Letter to the Corinthians 13:1-13
Though I command languages both human and angelic – if I speak without love, I am no more than a gong booming or a cymbal clashing. And though I have the power of prophecy, to penetrate all mysteries and knowledge, and though I have all the faith necessary to move mountains – if I am without love, I am nothing. Though I should give away to the poor all that I possess, and even give up my body to be burned – if I am without love, it will do me no good whatever.
Love is always patient and kind; love is never jealous; love is not boastful or conceited, it is never rude and never seeks its own advantage, it does not take offence or store up grievances. Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but finds its joy in the truth. It is always ready to make allowances, to trust to hope and to endure whatever comes.
Love never comes to an end. But if there are prophecies, they will be done away with; if tongues, they will fall silent; and if knowledge, it will be done away with. For we know only imperfectly; but once perfection comes, all imperfect things will be done away with. When I was a child, I used to talk like a child, and see things like a child; but now that I have become an adult, I have finished with all childish ways. Now we see only reflections in a mirror, mere riddles, but then we shall be seeing face to face. Now, I can know only imperfectly; but then I shall know just as fully as I am myself known.
As it is these three remain: faith, hope and love, the three of them; and the greatest of them is love.
Extract from The New Jerusalem Bible.
To love, and be rejected; to spend every
effort to help, and be turned down;
To be in a situation of having to compete to
be heard, and be silent;
To have answers, and not be able to
To love, knowing you can win, and not be
To go to the end of the line
when you were there first;
To tell the truth, and it be made a lie…
To try to be saintly, and be made out to be a devil…
To be on the inside – and be cast outside…
To be with many, and know you are really alone;
To give yourself unreservedly to others…
And be a victim of their envy…
To dedicate your life to a purpose…
And have that purpose turn against you;
To be innocent, and be accused…
As Jesus was…
To be stripped of all authority,
earthly power, and position…
And be nothing…
Is to have our hearts lacerated with humility…
To the greatest depth;
And receive, at the greatest heights,
God’s blessing of walking Jesus’ path…
This is Love!
A Wedding Poem.
God, in planning His purpose of life,
Hallowed the union of husband and wife;
This is revealed here love is displayed,
When rings are exchanged and promises made.
So we pray that His Spirit will preside
Over this wedding of groom and bride
And that all they hope for will come true,
Lighting with love all they dream of, and do.
Thanks to the Creator, the Spirit, the Son,
Source of the love by which these two are made one.
God’s is the glory, the goodness and grace
Displayed in this marriage, and know in this place.
A Poem adapted from verses by the Iona Community
Children’s Perception of Love.
A group professional people posed this question to a group of 4 to 8 year olds, “What does love mean?”
The answers they got were broader and deeper than anyone could have imagined. See what you think:
Rebecca - aged 8;
“When my grandmother got arthritis she couldn’t bend over and paint her toenails any more.
So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too. That’s love”.
Billy - aged 4;
“When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different.
You just know that your name is safe in their mouth.”
Karl – aged 5:
“Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne and they go out and smell each other.”
Chrissy – aged 6:
“Love is when you go out to eat and give somebody most of your French fries without making them give you any of theirs.”
Terri – aged 4:
“Love is what makes you smile when you’re tired.”
Danny – aged 7:
“Love is when mommy makes coffee for my daddy and she takes a sip before giving it to him, to make sure the taste is O.K.”
Emily – aged 8:
“Love is when you kiss all the time. Then when you get tired of kissing, you still want to be together and talk more.
My mommy and daddy are like that. They look gross when they kiss.”
Bobby – aged 7:
“Love is what’s in a room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen.”
Nikka – aged 6:
“If you want to learn to love better, you should start with a friend who you hate.”
Noelle – aged 7:
“Love is when you tell a guy you like his shirt, then he wears it every day.”
Tommy – aged 6:
“Love is like a little old woman and a little old man who are still friends even after they know each other so well.”
Cindy – aged 8:
“During my piano recital, I was on stage and I was scared. I looked at all the people watching me and saw my daddy waving and smiling.
He was the only one doing that. I wasn’t scared any more.”
Clare – aged 6;
“My mommy loves me more than anybody.
You don’t see anyone else kissing me to sleep at night.”
Elaine – aged 5;
“Love is when Mommy gives Daddy the best piece of chicken.”
Chris - aged 7;
Love is when Mommy sees Daddy smelly and sweaty and still says he is handsomer than Brad Pitt.”
Mary Ann - aged 4;
“Love is when our puppy licks your face even after you left him alone all day.”
Lauren – aged 4;
“I know my older sister loves me because she gives me all her old clothes and has to go out and buy new ones.”
Karen – aged 7;
“When you love somebody, your eyelashes go up and down and little stars come out of you.”
Jessica – aged 8;
“You really shouldn’t say ‘I love you’ unless you mean it.
But if you mean it you should say it. People forget.”
Finally the winner of a competition to choose most caring child was won by a four year old boy.
His next door neighbour was an elderly gentleman who had recently lost his wife.
Upon seeing the man cry, the little boy went into the old gentleman’s yard, climbed on his lap and just sat there.
When his mother asked what he had said to the neighbour, the little boy said,
“Nothing, I just helped him cry.”
Prayer: Father. God bless all my friends in whatever it is that You know they may be needing this day. And may their life be full of Your peace, which transcends all understanding. Amen.