Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Lenten Reflection # 7
Finally, why don't we always love God even though we could count the ways he loves until our face turns blue? I can think of a few reason- many of them personal, but I will expand on one reason Pope Benedict gives. Just to clarify- Pope Benedict doesn't actually look at this question in the negative, but more in the positive- as how we can love God more deeply and sincerely.
His answer to the question, it seems, was the main reason for him writing, Deus Caritas Est. He says "Love grows though love." It's probably my favorite quote from the entire encylclical. Short, sweet, and to the point. So if I want to love God more, I love others more. "Only if I serve my neighbour can my eyes be opened to what God does for me and how much he loves me." But before I go out to feed the poor, I must do one thing in order to truly grow in love of God. I have to have a prayerful relationship with God. "If I have no contact whatsoever with God in my life, then I cannot see in the other anything more than the other, and I am incapable of seeing in him the image of God". The Holy Father give the example of Mother Teresa's ministry. Before she went to serve the poor every day, she renewed her capacity to love through the Eucharistic Lord. I've also read that she always told her nuns that you cannot give Christ, if you do not have Christ. They could not go out to minister to the poor if they have not prayed first. I think about that often before I go out and attempt any sort ministry.
The conclusion of the encyclical probably gives the best piece of advice as to how to grow in love. And it just so happens to be from Mary's example of charity (I always learn the best from my mother :)) When Mary goes to visit her cousin in Luke's Gospel, she says, "My soul magnifies the Lord" Luke 1:46. It takes a very holy person to say that their soul is so transparent to God's love that it actually magnifies it! "In these words, she expresses her whole programme of life: not setting herself at the centre, but leaving space for God, who is encountered both in prayer and in the service of neighbor." So there you have it: path to greater love of God=prayer and service.
**all quotes are taken from Deus Caritas Est, "God is Love" Encyclical by Pope Benedict XVI