On Love

Love is an unconditional commitment to actively seek another’s good.  An act done with conditions is not done in love.  Conditional acts are exchanges, implicitly or explicitly, done with some other motive.  Such an exchange isn’t necessarily bad.  People can mutually benefit from exchanges in all kinds of ways.  A conditional exchange just isn’t love.  For love is always a gift.  To act in love therefore is to affirm the inherent value and worth of another person, beyond their potential usefulness or helpfulness or pleasantness to oneself.  To be loved is to experience one’s own inherent value and worth affirmed, beyond one’s potential usefulness or helpfulness or pleasantness to another.  Often we are desperate for love.  We ache inside longing to know that we are valued for who we are with no hidden conditions.  This is why the gift of love has the power to liberate us from all of the ifs we have internalized in the depths of our hearts, from the uncomfortable, nagging suspicion that we are not really loveable just as we are.  For love that is free sets free.  Such love is indeed a rare gift.  As with any gift, for love to be received, first it must be given.

 

Advertisements

On Love

“Christianity is a religion of love.  Christian morality is a morality of love.  Love is impossible without obedience that unites the wills of the lover and the One loved.  But love is destroyed by a union of wills that is forced rather than spontaneous.  The man who obeys God because he is compelled to do so does not really love Him.  God does not want the worship of compulsion, but the worship that is free, spontaneous, sincere, ‘in spirit and in truth.’  True, there must always be a limit where human weakness is protected by a categorical command: ‘Thou shalt not!’  There can be no love of God that ignores such commands.  However, a true and mature love obeys not because it is commanded, but because it loves.

Christianity is not the religion of a law but the religion of a person.  The Christian is not merely one who keeps the rules imposed on him by the Church.  He is a disciple of Christ.  True, he keeps the commandments of God as well as the laws of the Church, but his reason for doing so is not to be looked for in any power of legal decrees: it is found in Christ.  Love is specified not by laws but by persons.  Love has its laws, but they are concrete, existential laws based on values hidden in the very person of the Beloved…  Jesus Himself, living in us by His Spirit, is our Rule of Life.  His love is our law, and it is absolute.  Obedience to this law conforms us to Him as a person.  It therefore perfects the divine image in us.  It makes us like God.  It fills us with the life and liberty that He has taught us to seek.  This is the value that determines all the actions of a Christian.  This is the foundation at the same time of Christian humanism and of Christian mysticism: The Christian lives by love, and therefore by freedom.”  —Thomas Merton, The New Man

On Love

There is a curious and compelling mystery in love.  This mystery may appear to be a paradox.  To put it one way, really loving others is to love myself and really loving myself is to love others.  This reality is present in all deep friendships.  In the context of marriage, for instance, loving your spouse is to love yourself and loving yourself is to love your spouse.  In my personal experience, the longer I’ve been married to my wife, and the more our friendship has deepened, the more difficult it is for me to know where I end and where she begins.

Learning to participate in this Mystery is what we are made for, as people designed to share in the very nature of the personal, tri-une God.  This Mysterious Love is in fact the essential makeup of the Divine.