One Like Myself

It should be natural to look in the eyes of a loved one and see one like myself.

 

Provided this gaze is authentic love, it permits a moral awareness of the dignity, the inviolability of the other.

 

Slavery, existing throughout human history, has been/is possible due to the human capacity to stop seeing the other as myself. The Europeans saw the Africans as a “sub-race”, as non-human, which permitted them to enslave the latter without losing their feeling of rectitude. In response, the Civil Rights Movement made repeatedly one principal claim: we are equal in dignity.

 

Once equality is truly achieved, no honest person can continue such horrible violence towards his brother or sister.

 

The degradation of human beings is seen worldwide: the treatment of Jews in Nazi Germany, the attempted eradication of the Tutsi by the Hutu in Rwanda, the enslavement of millions of children in, as is done in India or various countries in Africa, or the use of child soldiers, as was seen during the Sierra Leone Civil War. Today, Islamic extremists, whether from Isis, Boko Haram, or various other groups, spread a wave of death, hatred, and enslavement across the middle east and other inspired acts of violence spanning several continents.

 

What shocks is that human beings are capable of doing such things to other human beings. All made possible by a lack of empathy, compassion, and love.

 

Sadly, we are not free from this very dehumanization.

 

Abortion is the ultimate act of dehumanizing another person.

 

The duration of a life lasts from its beginning until its end, from conception to natural death. To stop that process from continuing at any point is to end a life. Thus, to stop the beating heart of a eighty year old man is no different than to stop the beating heart of a baby in the womb.

 

A life has been ended.

 

Ending a life arbitrarily is an act of murder.

 

Today a baby in the womb, who doesn’t have the qualities that we recognise as being fully human, can be killed, not only without repercussion, but even with financial aid from the government.

 

Abortion is only viable if we continue to say that a developing child is not human.

 

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Consider if we replaced a “foetus” with a one hour old child. Would any of the Pro-choice arguments make any sense at all?

Does a woman have the right to end her one hour old child’s life because she gave birth to that child, and it’s her body? Even if that child causes her stress and financial problems? Should a one hour old child be killed because they came from the unfortunate circumstances of a rape? Should a one hour old child be euthanised because they were born into poverty? If a woman harms herself in trying to end the life of her one hour old child, should we create programs to do it for her?

 

The conclusion of these questions evoke disgust, who could possibly support them?

 

Yet the only difference between a baby who is still a foetus and a one hour old child is whether or not we attribute humanity to them.

 

Apparently, the foetus is too undeveloped to be human.

 

Apparently, the foetus doesn’t have enough sensation or intellectual processing to be human.

 

Today we look back at slavery and are astonished at how it was possible for one person to look at another and ignore completely their humanity and, as a result, treat them with brutality and indifference.

 

I pray for the day when we will be human enough to look back and say, “How could we have murdered our own children?”

 

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Take Courage

 

Whoever denies their need for the mercy of God, denies the very air they seek to breathe.

 

Even beyond this the question is absolutely outside the realm of what we need, though we do need it! It should be known that any who understands the mercy of God desires it more than the air they breathe.

 

The perfect mother but only shadowed the tenderness which awaits the repentant heart. He tells us, “Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you.” The caring affection of a grandmother is like a small stream compared to the vast flowing currents contained in the oceans of God’s care for His children.

 

Our everyday experience of hatred, darkness, betrayal, ignorance, disgust, and apathy are constant pointers in the opposite direction. If these evils assails us, there must be their opposite to relieve.

 

Sadly, many despair of the hope this world can give and relinquish themselves to this darkness which poisons.

 

For many it seems easier to hold on to a lie, than to face the pain of changing, admitting fault.

 

Resist the wholesale apathy which the world sells today. It is a lie and a detestable one. One which claims that human beings are not worth more than their subjective experience of pleasure. One which claims that our hearts are nothing more than the beating of flesh and blood, and certainly not a sign of the life-force which is pumped into us from the divine source, from our divine Father.

 

Take courage.NmnKzKIyQsyGIkFjiNsb_20140717_212636-3

 

The darkness is weak, it will always flee before the light. Darkness can never consume light where it resides. With that said, it is ours to invite the light, to embrace it.

 

Have you ever had the experience of finally overcoming ego and pride to forgive one who may not even have deserved forgiveness? Did you feel the lightheartedness, the release, the peace which followed such an action? For one who forgives, there is no wound that can overwhelm.

 

No amount of destruction could outmatch one pure act of love, sprouting from the plenitude of God’s mercy. Not even death can overcome love. For we look everyday to the saints who died, who were murdered in often times brutal forms, with forgiveness being the last gift released from their pure hearts. Still they hold us in loving concern.

 

They forgive their executioners.

The agents of their death. They do this because they know the plenitude of God’s love for which they willingly take up this sacrifice.

 

If it is abundance you seek, then you need God’s mercy. If you seek security, God is the only totally trustworthy being in the universe. If it is affluence you seek, I cannot even begin to describe the splendour of the heavenly riches given to us through a small act of compassion!

 

To claim that we can have compassion without God, is no different than to claim that we can have life without oxygen. All the while taking in its sustenance, even to claim those very words. This is but another example of God’s compassion who gives his gifts even to those who reject Him.

 

What must a person do to find this love, this mercy, this fatherly care?

 

To say nothing more than: “Papa, I’m here. I’ve missed you.”

The Blindness in Online Communication

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Despite my earnest efforts not to do so, I often find that while communicating via e-mail or by comments on social media, I often go too far in what I say.
 

In retrospect I find that when I communicate via-keyboard I am far more willing to cross lines which I would never cross in person.
 

Most people are keenly aware of how anonymity online allows people to say and do truly horrendous things. If I look at myself, I can see that I do not have the same awareness considering my own postings and writings.
 

While it is true that I don’t go out looking to troll or to harass people who disagree with me, I do not spam hate mail or vicious comments, I do lose a true awareness of how what I write effects others.
 

When we are messaging someone we are familiar with, we know the anonymity is gone, even still, the absence of seeing a human being with facial expressions, mannerisms, and the like, seems to disengage an important part of our internal radar and filter.
 

I have noticed that I tend to argue far more bluntly online, than in person.
 

I am far less cautious with my words, which is the exact opposite of what should be the case.
 

If we think about it, when communicating online we should be all the more careful with what we say because we have none of the other important indicators of how the other person is feeling, or what they are experiencing.
 

We cannot tell if someone is near tears by the text of their response; we cannot tell if they are furious but bottling it up; we cannot see the subtle but important cues that inform us that “this is too much, please stop!”
 

It is well known that a large percentage of our communication occurs entirely non-verbally. Aside from the choice of vocabulary, all these vital tells are missing. In written correspondence we only obtain the physical words, the message coming from the other, but not the unspoken and often more valuable information.
 

This is all too apparent when trying to use something like sarcasm in text messages, and the person receiving the text only reads a blunt statement, and does not get the humour.
 

In comparison to when I am with someone face to face, when I am reacting in writing I tend to focus whole heartedly on the ideas of their comment. I go after these ideas with great intensity, but quickly forget that their will be a loved one with an entirely different emotional and spiritual life than mine at the other end.
 

Ironically, this forgetfulness makes our arguments less effective because we end up offending instead of endearing. We turn the other onto the defensive, and thus closed to our point or ideas.
 

When we speak harsh words in person we see immediately how they change. Their facial expressions, their demeanor, their willingness to engage in more conversation are all important indications of how our message is taking effect.
 

These are powerful reminders that our words carry a visceral potential to either harm or to uplift: reminders which are often missing during online conversations.
 

Online communication has brought about an age of unprecedented connection.
 

What is interesting is we seldom consider the consequences of this intensified connection.
 

We are influencing each other with a far greater frequency than before.
 

It seems to me that it is all the more important now days to be aware of the shortcomings of this burgeoning type of communication so as to use it all the more effectively.
 

At the end of the day, communication should not be just a means to obtain what I want, what I need, what I desire, but also to fulfill the desires, preferences, and needs of those we communicate with.

Suffering (Part 1 of 3): The Man on the Bench

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Our response to suffering speaks volumes about our interior state.
 

It reveals how we see others, ourselves; the needs of others, compared to our own desires.
 

Here I wish to reference a difficult experience I had after a shift at work which lasted into the night.
 

Tired, I walked over to a bus shelter and noticed a man sitting in an awkward position on a bench across the street. After watching for a little while it was easy to see that he was unconscious.
 

What happened next shook me deeply: it both showed how callous we can be towards our brothers and sisters, but also revealed my own coldness towards their suffering.
 

First, I noticed how a group of people standing nearby totally ignored his presence.
 

Second, a couple walked up and sat beside him; the woman proceeded to rifle through his pockets and remove their contents.
 

Afterward, they left.
 

Third. When I asked if the group nearby knew him, two women came over. One said, “Hey that looks like Rick, is that Rick?” By this point the man had fallen from the bench onto the ground. She kicked him over so his face was upwards; it wasn’t Rick.
 

They left laughing.
 

Fourth. A woman stopped by when she saw me stooped by his side and asked, “Is he ok?” I replied I didn’t know, I didn’t think so.” So she said, “I think he’s just resting!” with a hint of positivity. I just shook my head, disgruntled, “I think it’s worse than that.”
 

Fifth. A man with a bicycle stopped now and asked if he could help. He proceeded to hit the man with his bike tire repeatedly in attempts to awake him. He then force fed him some liquids and placed the limp man in a terrible position on the bench. When he heard police sirens nearby, he suddenly fled.
 

Sixth, seemingly the only beautiful witness was a teenager who stopped by and asked with a look of concern if everything was Ok. When I told him I’d already called an ambulance he smiled apologetically and left.
 

Seventh. The woman who robbed the unconscious man returned. She sat around asking me for a smoke, or if I had a light while I was trying to talk with the paramedics on the phone.
 

The ambulance arrived in good time and they told my help was no longer needed, so I left.
 

Upon reflecting on this incident later I realised that each person who stopped by represented a different internal state, most of which I have held myself at one time or another in my life.
 

The first people who just ignored him represented those with hearts which have never been lit aflame with sacrificial love. They saw no personal gain, and only annoyance in going to help the man. He was simply not worth their time.
 

Admittedly, this was my first reaction.
 

Love which cannot sacrifice, is not love at all.
 

The woman who robbed him represents all the times that we take advantage of those we love when they are vulnerable.
 

Whether we use subtle social pressure to get our own way, or by taking from the other intimacy that was never given. We have all, at one time or another, used the predicament of another person for our own selfish gain.
 

The fourth woman who stopped to offer the suggestion that, “Maybe he’s just sleeping!” represents our tendency to gloss over real suffering with happy-go-lucky slogans and meaningless cheer.
 

Every time we shrug off the very real suffering of another with pseudo-positivity, we offer them a cold shoulder as relief from their pain.
 

Pop psychologists love this kind of advice. They tell us that to improve our lives and eradicate our struggles we need only think happy thoughts or eat more green things!
 

The kind of love that lifts the burden of the other involves lifting a heavy, cumbersome, and precious cross.
 

It involves most importantly, entering into the pain of the other.
 

The man on the bicycle represents a curious middle ground. He was totally willing to help, but having no expertise about how exactly to help, did what was eventually totally unhelpful. His intention was there, but his lack of expertise and knowledge only served to worsen the situation. It is safe to say that spending time discerning whether our interventions are really helping a given situation would be fruitful time to spend indeed!
 

Knowing when we have the capacity to make a difference, and when our inexperience will lead the situation into an even greater problem than the first, is true wisdom.
 

I left that night on my bus, significantly later and more tired then I had expected, and thought about what had just happened. I was one step away from simply ignoring the situation and leaving without a second thought. When I witnessed my own reluctance to help the helpless, it shocked me most of all.
 

It motivated a serious reflection:
 

Where is my compassion?: I who claim to be a Catholic, devoted to Love itself.
Why was I so eager to leave this man to his lot in life? To be the unconcerned passerby in the story of the Good Samaritan?
 

As a Catholic I also identify with the fact that the risen Christ is present in every human being: to abandon any man or woman is to abandon Christ himself.
 

If I claim to care about humanity, while ignoring the very real suffering of those I know, see, and encounter, I am a liar, a hypocrite.
 

There should be no suffering in this world so foreign to me that I will be unwilling to at least acknowledge the struggle and the pain, to offer my presence and self-less gift.
 

May God kindle and fan the flames within our hearts to burn with compassion for all our brothers and sisters.

Lessons Learned From Life on the Bus

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Many people when they hear the phrase Public Transit react with disgust or frustration, as though they were remembering someone who had wronged them personally. On the other hand, many praise its value for society (truly it is impossible to do without in larger cities).

 

Raised in a small city, I never used public transport. So when at the age of twenty three I moved into the “big city” suddenly I had an opportunity to use this widely discussed service. As an ex-hitchhiker I found it both effective and extraordinarily useful. True, there are a few situations for which transit leaves much to be desired, like trying to return home while lugging several bags of groceries. Otherwise, I was impressed by the fact that I could get within walking distance of almost every corner of the city, albeit not always in “good time”.

 

There is a second quality of using public transport in the big city that still makes a lasting impression upon me. Our communal transport is an unintentional source of gathering, a place where people who would have no other reason to come together, find themselves face to face, in conversation, and at least if only by proximity alone, sharing a mutual experience. Though there is much pain and discord, I have also seen many truly humbling acts of kindness during my frequent trips on the bus and subway.

 

Ironically, as population density increases, so does our anonymity. Public transit has the potential to be one of the last strong bastions of community between residents. I can’t help but feel a sense of camaraderie when I notice someone I know riding the same bus as me. There is an unspoken awareness of the fact of, “Hey, we’re in this together!”

 

The most poignant and urgent needs of humanity can be seen so plainly while riding the bus: The hunger and fatigue on the faces of those carrying overburdened bags of empty cans onto the bus, or the despair of a drunk and homeless man, riding only to keep warm, or the stressed and belligerent mother who may be using the only skills she learned in a broken home. In our offices, schools, and homes it is easy to bypass the poor, the needy. When we travel only from house garage to parking garage we need never brush shoulders with the homeless, with the working poor. On transit however, it is all but impossible not to encounter the suffering of the disabled, the despair of the addicted, the pain of those who have been mistreated or abused.

 

In this reality lies one amazing and awesome opportunity: every transit rider has the daily opportunity to reach out to someone who needs compassion, to offer a listening ear to a lonely heart, in effect to reach out in so many different ways with small acts of kindness to those who may otherwise receive none. True, many simply shove their earphones in or bury their attention into their cellphones, and pretend that the suffering doesn’t exist, but those who take this route become shrouded to their own humanity.

 

Their is a temptation we experience when we recognize the brokenness of humanity: we try to flee, doing everything to convince ourselves that we are different or somehow above it. In order to achieve this end we must close off our hearts, to allow our compassion to wither away. A psychologist who doesn’t recognize his own capacity for mental illness, will never have the proper insight to profoundly help those who come for aid. As a wise man once said, “But for the grace of God, there go I.” If I don’t see my own vulnerability to end up no different then the homeless or intoxicated person beside me, I am blind to the very reality of human existence and weakness, and thus I cannot be a light to the feet of my brother or sister.

 

On one hand we could look at all the inconveniences of public transit and lament why our fortunes have been so poor as to land us a bus pass instead of a new car, but on the other hand we may recognize that within our common transportation lives the riches of God’s kingdom: jewels, diamonds, souls, beyond reckoning and without valuation. Instead of seeing all the reasons why public transit has made our lives worse, we might instead look at the immense opportunities at how we might make someone else’s life better.

To Each His Own: Wisdom or Folly?


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Language is profoundly indicative of a societies values. Using statistical methods to analyze the English language psychologists made a model designed to analyze five broad domains of personality. Their results became the Big Five, a popular and lasting measure used for personality assessment. Many popular dating sites have taken to using these results to try and make better matches between their users. It can be seen through their study and others like it, that language is not totally arbitrary, but has deeper underlying symbolism. Our use of language actually says something about us, in return.
 

It is within the understanding of this concept that I will give a critical look at a popular way of thinking. Though this way of seeing the world is not exclusive to modern thinkers, it has been verbalized especially clearly as of late, and is growing in popularity. In the course of this essay I will make one point clear: The statement “to each his own” is a self-centered, greedy, and unloving statement.
 

First, we must fix in our minds where this mentality comes from. What are its roots? Most often I hear these words in replacement or in conjunction with the phrase, “I don’t judge.” In a big way this mentality rises in opposition to religious, moral, or societal boundaries drawn, and often used, to judge others. The sixties must have been a major birthing ground for this type of thinking. If you’ve ever seen people picketing with signs which read “God hates gays”, it makes it easy to understand why such a reaction has come about. I am grateful that so many are eager to release our brothers and sisters from the burdensome and person destroying nature of human judgment. Such is a beautiful and good pursuit.
 

Always, as we work towards the authentic good, we must ensure the pendulum doesn’t swing too far. I hope that those who champion the fight against judgment will continue, but the phrase “to each his own” carries a lot of unseen baggage. It doesn’t just simply state that I don’t judge what you do, it states that I could care less what you do. There is a vast divide between these two notions.
 

To not judge does not mean the absence of an opinion or hope for that person. It means one doesn’t bludgeon the other with their own perceived moral high-ground. In our human capacity, judgment tears down, whereas love builds up, but love requires attention to what is best for the other. The reason we shouldn’t judge isn’t because everything is devoid of moral value, neither good nor bad, but because we have neither the authority nor the wisdom to judge, and we never will. With a few exceptions — emphasis on a few —  it is impossible to peer into the heart of another and understand in totality the motives, pre-existing conditions, and the tides of influence that played out over the other’s actions in any given situation. Therefore, we will never understand culpability, or in laymen’s terms, their true responsibility for their actions.
 

With that said, this concept should never be transformed into the assumption that since one shouldn’t judge, so neither should they care what people do with their lives.
 

Consider the love of a mother:
 

If a mother’s son approaches her and states that he is heading to a party and might try heroine tonight, if the mother says merely, “to each his own,” she has failed immensely in her maternal responsibilities. Likewise, if she slaps him, tells him drug users are the spawn of evil etc., she has also failed to communicate truth. The fact remains, if we love someone, it matters deeply to us what they do, and do not do. Why? Because actions have deep and lasting consequences. The path to addiction is quick, and the path back out is long, painful, and probably is occurring already at the loss of relationships, peace, stability, and so much more. A mother’s heart sinks when she hears these words because she wishes the best for her child.
 

Like the parent in this example, it matters how and when we express our concern for the other.

 * * * * *

Here’s another situation which highlights what is really being said by our quaint phrase:
 

Someone said to me in regards to the situation in Ukraine, “I don’t care what the Russians do, so long as they aren’t in my backyard.” Is the plight of our brothers and sisters in the Ukraine so far off as to not matter? Is their suffering somehow muted from existence by the vast amount of space between us and them? No, never. I would argue that such an opinion is a shallow one, one devoid of love or compassion. It is no different when we usher forth the phrase, pleasing to the ear alone, ‘to each his own’. When the pain of the other is incomprehensible to me, my heart resembles stone. It is unresponsive, dead, and unconcerned. No good can come from it.
 

I understand the intent of this statement is to prevent the other from being crushed, to not bear a burden upon someone, but too often harm is being done by our nonchalance towards those we love.
 

I am not condoning those who believe everyone is entitled to their opinion, and neither am I suggesting that it is healthy to worry incessantly about others problems. These attitudes come with their own set of issues. So, it is of great benefit to those I converse with and myself to hold within my heart one essential question: when is it appropriate and for the good of the other to express my opinion on someone’s actions, and when must I keep silent, for the sake of love?
 

Unless I have a  close connection with the other, keeping my thoughts internal is often the most loving choice — but not always.
 

As is the case with a mother, she discerns when to speak with her child and when not to, when to give hard advice and when to stay quiet and allow her son to experience his own mistakes. What matters is that she cares enough about her son to worry about what decisions he’s making and how they will affect him. She won’t always get it right, but to not try at all is reckless and selfish. The reason ‘to each his own’ is so self-serving is that it represents something a person would say to someone whom they have zero emotional attachment to, and really couldn’t care less what happens to that person. It is greedy because it reveals a person who looks our for their own first, unconcerned of the needs of the other. This type of thinking leads to a form of isolationism that is contrary to concern and compassion, and therefore, to love.
 

As Martin Niemöller wrote of the progressive Nazi persecution:
 

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out — Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out — Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out — Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.
 

As persons we are all members of the human family. There are functional members and dysfunctional members. There are artists, arguers, philosophers, and scientists. There are mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, sons, and daughters. Our communal life is messy, and it doesn’t always feel good, but we are at the very heart of our shared existence, a family. Thus, what happens to any member of my family matters to me, their future matters to me, their peace matters to me. For this reason, I will never say, “to each his own.”

For a Friend: A Conversation on Love

After having a discussion with a friend I decided that I would write an article to explain my viewpoint in greater depth. The subject of our sharing, my favourite topic, was love.

 

There are few words used in the English language that exists within so many different meanings and contexts. On one hand someone might say, “Ohhh, I love that shirt!” This statement carries quite a different connotation than a gentle whisper from a husband’s lips to his wife’s ear, “I love you.”

 

Paradoxically we tend to overuse the word love for the mundane, but under use it in our relationships. We are more likely to exclaim that we love chocolate, then to remind a friend or family member that we love them. One need only look closely into the hearts of the people abounding in this city to see how many of them are longing just to hear the three simple words, with sincerity, “I love you.”

 

As my friend and I discussed the topic it became clear to me that our misunderstanding was increased by the fact that we defined the word differently. Secular varieties of the word love are most common in popular culture and movies. Lust is commonly labeled as love. Steamy romance novels are filled with one night stands that stem from “love at first sight” type scenarios. We are given an idea that love is summed up by passionate feelings or uncontrollable emotions. If this is true, then true love is something fleeting and short lived, something unattainable within a long-term marriage, and ultimately something completely out of our control. Such a shallow understanding of love fails to explain the example of those like Mother Teresa, and many other Saints. Though passionate emotions may play a part in love, relationships based on emotion last only as long as the emotions do.

 

Hollywood tells us that sex is love.

 

Sex is one of many expressions of a loving relationship, but in and of itself, it is not love. In terms of physical intimacy, sex is the most intimate and powerful gift that can be made between two people. Sex devoid of emotional intimacy, however, inevitably loses it’s “zing” and the participants start looking elsewhere for a new high. In this context sex can be used, or degraded, into momentary gratification and the use of a human person as an object, or as a means to our own end: an orgasm, asserting control, or something resembling, but falling short of, true intimacy.

 

If love isn’t being equated as sex or raw emotions, then we are bombarded with the thought that love is merely kindness, or continual affection.

 

Again, though affection may be an integral part of love, love is neither affection nor kindness. It includes these things, but it is greater, and has far more depth. If love is just physical intimacy then when one person in a relationship falls seriously ill and physical intimacy is no longer possible, is the love then dead? If love is just showers of affection and kindness, then how can we explain a mother disciplining her children? I would argue that any parent who does not use appropriate punishment, fails to properly love their children. As was the case with a friend of mine who had to rouse me from a self destructive path, at great risk to himself, love often involves doing the opposite of what the beloved wants, for their own good.

 

If love is neither sex, nor passionate feelings, nor affection, then what is it?

 

With so many sources supplying false ideas of real love, where can we find a more authentic and wholesome definition? The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that “to love is to will the good of another” (1766). Here in this short sentence is an essential piece of love: focus on the other. In a culture which says, “I’m not getting mine, so I’m out of here,” this is a very contrary way of thinking.

 

Here’s another direct quote: “The most fundamental passion is love, aroused by the attraction of the good. Love causes a desire for the absent good and the hope of obtaining it; this movement finds completion in the pleasure and joy of the good possessed” (1765).

 

Notice the usage of the words desire, passion, aroused, attraction, pleasure, and joy: they are words we use commonly in conjunction with sexual intimacy and pleasure, but here they are used within reference to the good of the other. The coincidence is not accidental; in this concept lies the real meaning of true love.

 

Our attention is drawn towards the other quintessential piece of love: action towards the beloved’s good. To love authentically, we search for, hunt out, and seek to obtain the greatest good for the other. We do not find completion, until this end is achieved. Thus, love is not an easy path to walk. It means pain, discomfort, and the need for bountiful amounts of patience. There is help for the journey, however.

 

The pinnacle of what of authentic love looks like was defined quite succinctly two thousand years ago by Saint Paul:

 

Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful;
it is not arrogant or rude.

Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;
it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends…” (1Cor.13)

 

As we continued to have our discussion, and as I tried to elucidate just how I defined and saw love, I got the impression that my friend did not think authentic love was possible. Truthfully, I can’t say that I completely disagree. To achieve such a depth of love takes years of trial and error, learning from others, and accepting and growing from painful mistakes. To climb such a mountain requires humility and patience, but it also requires faith. With my own self-knowledge, and knowledge of other human beings, I do not believe that achieving true love is possible by human strength alone.

 

At one time or another, most people are jealous, boastful, arrogant, rude, irritable, resentful, and do insist on their own way. I strive to rid myself of these uncharitable attributes, yet, if I look only a short distance into my recent past I find many failures to succeed in this goal. So, yes, I do agree it’s not easy, but with God’s grace and our cooperation it is possible. We honor those who climbed this mountain with real passion and sincerity; though they are not perfect, they are the ones whom we call Saints.

 

Which world would I rather live in?

 

Do I want to exist in, and participate with, a culture that sells me lust, self-gratification, and selfishness, because love is impossible? Even if authentic love is impossible, I’d rather live in delusion and seek every day of my life to become better at loving, then to accept such a culture. I’d rather strive to deny myself the gratification of this moment, so that the other could have it instead, then to believe that “me” is the most important part of a relationship.

 

The Catechism breathes life when it states that “the fruits of charity are joy, peace, and mercy”(1829). It is the season of these fruits, that I will await eagerly.