Tuesday, August 7, 2012

What is Love?

Love is a command of Jesus and is central to living a spiritual life. The columnist writing on spirituality for the Catholic Times, however, feels the word is overused and no longer motivates many people. There are few words that have as many meanings, among them: loyalty, humility, sacrifice, courage, self-restraint, and the like. Love is not unconditional praise of another, he says, but honest advice is included under the category of love.

He prefers the word consonance, to be in harmony with the will of God. It is being in harmony with life: congeniality, compatibility with life's situation, compassion for others, and competence in what we do, all of which requires firmness and softness.

He believes that softness is a prerequisite for spirituality. A spiritual person, he says, is a mellow person; without it, there is a lack of discipline. Even if we think we are mellow, with God's help this softness can grow. We will also become firmer.  He distinguishes firmness from stubbornness. What comes from human values is stubbornness; what comes from God is firmness. We walk with firmness in harmony with God's will.

This is all God's work. It is not our unaided effort that produces results but our acceptance of God's gift. When we make efforts directly to be happy, we may find the gift of happiness more distant. His writing, he says, is also a gift, a result of God's love. To say "I did it" is not the proper way for a Christian to express anything that we have accomplished.  Those who are reading this, he says, are also recipients of this gift. providing us with the desire and the time to read what is written. All is gift, or another way of saying this: all is grace.

With this attitude, all becomes light and easy. However, he reminds us that there are many of us who live in great sadness. Their lives are full of despair. Each day is tension-filled, or unknowingly empty of meaning. Why is this so? Why do they live that way? He doesn't give us any answers, but the society we have made certainly influences how people see themselves. Those who can't adapt to our competitive and materialistic society are going to have problems.

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