By Father MieczysЕ‚aw Piotrowski TChr,
Love One Another! 9/2008 → True Love Waits - Pure Hearts
Falling in love is an opportunity to mature in love. But it also carries with it serious dangers — in particular, the danger of allowing feelings to override our reason and will
Jesus constantly urges us to overcome and conquer our selfishness.
He desires that we remove from our lives everything that impedes
us from loving God and our neighbor. Saint Edith Stein observes
that “all this pleasant settling into the world, the lure
of profiting from its pleasures, the desire to enjoy these pleasures,
and the understandable assent to these desires — all this imprisons
a person in the fetters of selfishness and prevents him from maturing
in love.” The obstacle is removed when the soul “finds
space for God. In order so to open up the soul, we must join battle
with our sinful nature along the entire length of the front. We
must take up our cross and give ourselves away for crucifixion.
In this connection, St. John of the Cross cites the words of Our
Lord: ‘So, therefore, whoever of you does not renounce all
that he has [through covetousness] cannot be my disciple’
Covetousness tires and torments the soul — darkens, stains,
and weakens it. It deprives the soul of the spirit of God, from
whom it turns away and gives itself over to brutish things”
(Knowledge of the Cross, pp. 61-62). Taking up our cross means waging
a fierce struggle with every desire that flows from our selfishness.
This task requires endurance and daily perseverance; it is painful,
but absolutely necessary for the journey of maturing in love. No
other way of attaining the treasure of love is possible, for, as
Jesus says, “If any man would come after me, let him deny
himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Matthew
Falling in love: opportunity and danger
The experience of falling in love can be of great help in freeing us from the prison of our selfishness. Accompanied by a great intensity of feeling, falling in love is a special kind of fascination with the unique spiritual beauty of another person. Nothing happens by chance. Throughout our life God puts specific people in our path and some of them exert a special attraction over us.
It is extremely important to realize that this unique beauty that fascinates us about another person stems from it being a reflection of “God’s image and likeness,” in which every person is created. The mystery of another person’s beauty underscores the unique beauty of God Himself. It calls us to a personal union with Christ through prayer and the Sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist.
Falling in love is an opportunity to grow in love, but it also carries with it serious dangers. In particular, there is the danger of allowing our feelings to override our reason and will. We cannot afford to make important life decisions based on unbridled feelings. If feelings are not harnessed and made subject to reason and the will, they become forces destructive of love. They will arouse such a desire to win and possess the beloved that they will destroy love altogether and bring about emotional enslavement. Pure love desires the good of the beloved; and man’s greatest good is to grow in love and be united in love with God. Love infinitely transcends the world of feeling. Therefore, as St. Edith Stein observes, it is not love but selfish covetousness that “seeks to keep the object of its love for itself. Whoever loves as Christ loves wants the beloved to belong to God, not to himself. Of course, this way we ensure we will keep the beloved for eternity. If we win someone for God, we are united with that person in God; whereas, by wanting to gain that person for ourselves, sooner or later we end up losing him.”
The state of falling in love is a chance to learn to yoke our spontaneous feelings to our reason and will. This is difficult and painful, but absolutely necessary if we are to mature in pure love. By harnessing our feelings to our reason and will, we deal a lethal blow to our selfishness and the numerous covetous impulses at work within us. If we do not do this, the power of our feelings will enslave us and bring us to the point of divinizing the beloved — a peculiar form of unwitting idolatry. We focus on the feelings we experience and, therefore, ultimately, on ourselves. This is a camouflaged form of selfishness; since what we then love are the feelings aroused in us by the beloved, not the beloved for his or her own sake.
Not everyone we fall in love with will be our wife or husband. This is certainly so in the case of someone who is married or consecrated to God. In the event of such a thing happening, we need to profit from the experience to deepen our faith and union with Christ through deeper and more intensive prayer and by entrusting the matter to Jesus in the confessional.
If, on the other hand, the person we fall in love with could be our future husband or wife, we must remember that until our union has been sealed by the Sacrament of Matrimony our mutual love does not entitle us to express our feelings in the way that is reserved for married couples. Thus a boy in love with his girlfriend must act like a knight, protecting her from his selfishness. The girl, in turn, must demand from him respect for her body, that he may know that her body is holy and belongs to Christ and that he will receive the right to her body only in the Sacrament of Matrimony.
The state of falling in love is a call to an uncompromising struggle with selfishness. We are helped in this struggle only when we stop focusing on ourselves and desire with all our heart that our beloved belong first and foremost to God. Only then can we experience the joy of discovering Christ in our love and delight in the beauty of His love.
Saint Paul aims this
fiery appeal at us “For this is the will of God; that you
abstain from immorality; that each one of you know how to control
his own body in holiness and honor, and not in the passion of lust
like the heathen, who do not know God. For God has not called us
for uncleanness, but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this,
disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you”
The Movement of Pure Hearts
Dear readers! Jesus is Love Incarnate to each one of us. If you have a boyfriend or girlfriend, then entrust your experience of love in prayer to Jesus, that He may purify, perfect, and render that love indestructible. Remember that in the long run you cannot really love if you do not have a personal relationship with Christ. If you do not immerse yourself through prayer in that ocean of love, which is God, if you do not unite yourself with Him in the Sacraments of Penances and Holy Communion, then you will soon lose your love and never learn to love. Love is a divine gift that only a pure and trustful heart may receive.
Christ’s love is vulnerable, for it can be rejected, ignored, or despised. But Jesus is never offended; instead, He suffers and waits patiently for us to welcome Him into our hearts. The vulnerable love of Jesus becomes all-powerful, when it is received with humility and faith. When this happens, it can raise sinners from the deepest pit and heal the most painful wounds. It is never too late to return to Jesus. He is always waiting for you. Jesus says: “I am dependent on the level of your trust. If your trust is great, then my generosity will know no bounds. What hurts me most is the sin of mistrust. The more you trust, the more you shall receive.”
For years LOA and her sister magazines have been urging their readers to join the Movement of Pure Hearts. There are now several millions of young people throughout the world who, by making the pledge of pure hearts, have declared their wish to learn to love as Jesus loves. All those who inform our editorial office of their decision to make this pledge receive a special blessing from us, and their names are entered in the Book of Pure Hearts. Remember that in making this pledge you are seizing Jesus strongly by the hand, that together with Him you may ascend that supremely challenging peak called Love. Do not fear to join Jesus in His revolution of love. Go first to confession, receive Jesus in Holy Communion, then say the following prayer:
“Lord Jesus, I am thankful that You love me with a love that rights the greatest wrongs and heals the most hurtful wounds. I offer You my memory, my mind, my soul, my body, my sexuality. I vow not to engage in sexual acts until I am united with my spouse in the Sacrament of Marriage. From this day forth, I will not read, buy, or watch pornographic materials. [Here, girls may wish to add: I vow to dress modestly and in no way to arouse lustful thoughts or desires in others.] I solemnly promise to meet You every day in prayer, scriptural meditation, frequent reception of Holy Communion, and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. I also pledge to avail myself regularly of the Sacrament of Penance, not to give in to discouragement, and to pick myself up promptly every time I fall into sin. Dear Jesus, teach me the practice of self-discipline and to control my sexual desires and feelings. Give me the courage to ‘go against the current’ in my daily walk through life. Help me to avoid everything that weakens and enslaves the will: nicotine, alcohol and drugs. Teach me to place love at the very center of my life. Mary, my Mother, guide me in my journey of faith. Guide me to the very source of Love — to Jesus, that I may trust and believe in Him alone. After the example of Servant of God, John Paul II, I desire to entrust myself entirely to you: Totus Tuus, Mary! Blessed Karolina, procure for me the gift of a pure heart. Amen!”
Our Lord Jesus urges all those who have been enslaved by self-abuse, pornography, and other addictions not to lose heart and to offer their wounded hearts to Him in prayer. Jesus needs time in which to teach you humble faith and boundless trust. So arm yourself with patience. Do not be discouraged by your setbacks. Jesus will raise you every time you fall. Eventually, you will gain complete mastery over your sin. But He needs your daily cooperation. That is why self-discipline is so important. You need to organize your day in such a way that you have time for prayer, work, rest, and recreation (best spent in some form of sport).
Dear readers! Jesus wants you to use Love One Another Magazine as a forum in which to share your reflections and bear witness to the beauty of chaste love, your failures, and struggles with sin and addiction. Thank you for your witness. We embrace you all in our prayers.
Fr Mieczyslaw Piotrowski SChr
& the editorial team