Reflections on Love
This may appear odd or unique to seek advice about love from Catholic priest but Bishop Fulton Sheen explains why this is not very shocking with these two famous quotes.
- The ego has a peculiar way of disguising the real reasons of its love. It can pretend to be interested in another's welfare while actually it is seeking its own pleasure.
- “It takes three to make love, not two: you, your spouse, and God. Without God people only succeed in bringing out the worst in one another. Lovers who have nothing else to do but love each other soon find there is nothing else. Without central loyalty, life is unfinished.”
In his 1949 book, Way To Happiness, Fulton Sheen offers a wonderful reflection on what love really is and is not. He explained, ¨There are some people who love to boast of their tolerance, but actually it is inspired by egotism; they want to be left alone in their own ideas, however wrong they may be, so they plead for a tolerance of other people's ideas. But this kind of tolerance is very dangerous, for it becomes intolerance as soon as the ego is disturbed or menaced. That is why a civilization that is tolerant about false ideas instead of being charitable to persons is on the eve of a great wave of intolerance and persecution. ¨
The egotist always considers his ego in terms of not having or wanting something. His principle action is drawing something to himself like the mouth which absorbs food. There is no outgoing, no service, and never a sacrifice because he interprets sacrifice as the diminishing of himself.
True love, on the contrary, feels that the need to give is more imperious than the need to receive. At the beginning of love, there is a feeling that one can never give enough. Regardless of how precious the gift, it still seems to fall short of what one would offer. Price tags are torn off because we want no proportion established between the gift and the need of giving. The tragedy of love when it begins to die is that then people do not even give what they have. No longer is there a question of not being able to give enough; there is rather no give at all.
In real love, there is pity and need. Pity in the sense that one feels the need of expansion and of giving to the point of exhaustion; need, because of a void that one would see filled. True love receives without ever interpreting what is given. It never seeks another motive than that of love itself.
He who asks “Why" something is given does not trust.
One of the tragedies of our time is that freedom is interpreted in terms of freedom from something instead of in terms of love. The man who loves everybody is the free man; the man who hates is the man who has already enslaved himself. The man who hates is dependent on that which he cannot love and therefore he is not free. To hate one's next-door neighbor is a restriction of freedom. It demands walking around the block so one will not see him or waiting until he leaves the house before leaving oneself.
It is our love and desires that determine our pains. If our supreme love is the pleasure of the body, then our greatest pain is loss of health; if our supreme love is wealth, then our deepest worry is insecurity; if our supreme love is God, then our greatest fear is a sin.
The great mystery is not why we love, but why we are loved. It is easy to understand why we love because of our incompleteness and our radical dissatisfaction apart from goodness. But why anyone should love us is the mystery, for we know when we look at our real selves how very little there is to love. Why creatures should love us is not too great a mystery, for they are imperfect too. But for God to love us--that we will never understand. The soul that has finally come to love God is worried by the thought that he has already lost so much time. As St. Augustine said: “Too late, O ancient Beauty have I loved Thee." But, on the other hand, this regret is compensated for by the knowledge that it was always in the Divine plan that we should eventually come to know God.
We love to see ourselves idealized in the minds of others. That is one of the beautiful joys of love. We become fresh, innocent, brave, strong in the mind of the beloved. Love covers up the corruption of the soul.
It is very easy to see why Bishop Fulton Sheen was a popular minister and author. His ability to touch people was second to none. It is also something to think about. In troubled times- many people doubt God. Doubters easily point out that God has failed us somehow. They assume that if God truly loved us He would not have us suffer. However, is this truly the case? The great mystery here is not that we love God but that God loves us. When we fail to do all that we can do to help ourselves yet still blame God for our problems are we doing Him justice? Think about this. Place your faith in man instead of God. Place your faith in governments. Have you ever seen or heard of government that did not eventually fail or fall? Governments come and go, people come and go, but God does not. Place your faith and love in Him and he will not let you down- now and forever. Amen.