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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

How Long Must I Wait?

Love is so hard to comprehend. I don't understand it it all.

Yes, I've written about it theologically, and I believe that God's love is personal, but for some reason, I can't internalize the depth and witdth and breadth of Our Lord's love.

Growing up, I heard over and over how God the Father loves us, how the Holy Spirit loves us, and how Jesus loves us. We sang about it in songs. Yet, the words and chintzy tunes weren't enough. They revealed...nothing. God always seemed in some sense, impersonal and aloof. Certainly I agreed that His Sacrifice on the Cross was personal, but in my mind, it was personal to us collectively and He didn't really know me. He was like a celebrity, one who might be very kind to me if he met me, but would recognize me no more than would, say, David Hasselhoff. I was just one of millions saying, "I love you Jesus!"

Even as an adult, it's hard to grasp such deep, personal, and truly passionate love. Even though I have the theology and can express Thomistically and in Augustinian language the fact that Christ's Sacrifice was personal in the most intimate sense, this truth is something that hasn't yet truly brought me to my knees.

I've experienced bona fide miracles, and all the time I witness answers to prayers, both of mine and those of my friends. Little prayers are often answered in big, obvious ways. Even so, I simply can't grasp that God's love for us is truly tangible and real.

Honestly, I can barely even write about how personal is His love. Over and over, when I've written on this topic, I tend to make it impersonal, using terms like "we" and "us". Certainly that IS true, and in using those terms I do want to help others understand that this love is for them, maybe if I was being honest I'd have to say that the personal pronouns are too difficult. I need to "diffuse" this love of God to spread it out, because it's so strong that to understand it would bowl me over.

As it stands, I have a hard time truly accepting God's love for...me.

My response to such a revelation has always been, and remains even now, "How can this be?!?"

Lately, when looking at different pictures of Jesus, what has stood out the most has been the wounds on His hands. No matter how sterile and bloodless the picture, the artist has always taken care to portray the wounds left by the nails that pierced Jesus' hands. Every time I see these pictures, I want to stop and lose myself in that image, hide within those wounds. Even as I flinch back in guilt at what I've done, I am drawn forward with a love I cannot deny or refuse.

How dare I write about this love? How can I write about loving Jesus if I struggle so hard to accept His love for me?

This evening before Mass I was musing about this and wonder if perhaps the reason for this dichotomy is actually very simple: we don't know what love really is. In our puny, imperfect human love, we set boundaries, restrictions and conditions, even disorder. Then, when we are confronted with the perfect, personal, unconditional and unrelenting love of Jesus, we realize immeditely that we must accept it on His terms

I was almost overcome in that moment of prayer, still not understanding, but coming a little closer to His Most Sacred Heart. His Heart, the source of all love, that teaches me I don't have to understand in order to accept, that He is only asking me to trust.



Sacred Heart of Jesus...have mercy on us.
Sacred Heart of Jesus...have mercy on us.
Sacred Heart of Jesus...have mercy on us.

Immaculate Heart of Mary....pray for us!

6 comments:

Michael Hallman said...

This is the great struggle of the spiritual life - and the great desert that must be crossed as we approach the mountain of contemplation. God who is love is far greater than the discursive mind or any of the faculties could ever comprehend, and yet that is where we are accustomed to comprehending just about anything, in the faculties. And so as we grow deeper and deeper into that awareness of our union with God, it becomes more and more difficult to feel His love, because the depths of His love are beyond any sense of feeling.

As we find ourselves drawn towards contemplation, towards that perfect awareness of our union with Him, a loving awareness and attentiveness that consumes our very being, absorbs us as a rain drop is absorbed into the ocean, we find ourselves experiencing glimmers of what is to come. It is as if we know that the sun is somewhere beyond the clouds, we trust that it is there, but it has been so long since we've seen it that we are starting to get a little bit shaky, and then suddenly one glorious ray penetrates through the clouds and floods our soul with light and love!

The time comes for all who have faith, some in this life, all in the next, when that cloud is removed and we see God's love in the deepest depths of our spirit, and become totally aware of the union with Him that is the ground of our very being.

Of course, I don't know why I'm saying all this - it is you who should be teaching me!

Adoro said...

Michael ~ We need each other! Your post is so poetic and...dare I say it? So Augustinian!

Thanks for your beautiful words. I did need to read them and even "hear" them. Thanks for commenting...you are, indeed, teaching me.

RJW said...

I can't be nearly as deep as either of you. I just know that the more we realize the infinite depth of God's love, and the more we know ourselves, the more unworthy of that love we feel we are. That is when we are called purely and simply to rely on faith. We are loved by God because He said so. A quote I found years ago (unknown origin, "God said it. I believe it. That settles it!"

Hidden One said...

"How can I write about loving Jesus if I struggle so hard to accept His love for me?"

We, as humans living outside the beatific vision, naturally struggle to accept that which we do not understand, though we know it by faith and through assent to a greater (more wide-ranging) truth. By special supernatural grace alone do we come to a successively better interior understanding of all true mysteries.

You, Adoro, believe in the love of God for you. Perhaps your struggle is to internalize this truth. It is the grace of God which places not merely the assent to the veracity of such truths deep within our hearts, but also understanding of them beyond that which we can, in this life, perfectly express.

Perhaps you struggle to reconcile this truth of His Love for you to this temporal world. In such things, I have found it useful not to reconcile Divine truths to the world, but to reconcile my view of the world to the Truth. There is then another level of assent, and that too is granted only by [I wish I was writing in Latin so that I could use the ablative case to more clearly express my meaning] the special graces of God.

Perhaps you struggle with the idea of the student teaching. This is natural - St. John of the Cross (long has it been since I've quoted him in a comment here, I do believe) relayed that it was proper not to desire to teach, but to learn. Thus, one must, in teaching, recognize (and take advantage of) the more substantive opportunity for learning that is present for the teacher than for the learner. This opportunity exists inherently, without any requirement of response from the student.

And still, we must not desire to teach, but to learn. Only for achievement of a greater good is teaching justified. Consider if your writings about Divine Love have, thus far, achieved such a greater good, and their motivation. I shall not attempt to answer these questions for you, but I think that I could, to a sufficient degree.

In short - and this was, originally, all that I was going to say - write on without fear, Adoro. For many reasons (including, perhaps especially, ones that I have not mentioned) it is proper for you to do so if there is no "outside" reason to cease - such a reason could conceivably exist, either now or in the future.

pax Christi tecum, Adoro.

*~JennD.'J.M.J.'~* said...

Adoro ~
"I was almost overcome in that moment of prayer, still not understanding, but coming a little closer to His Most Sacred Heart. His Heart, the source of all love, that teaches me I don't have to understand in order to accept, that He is only asking me to trust."
This, to me, sums it all up perfectly. We can wax eloquently in phrases straight out of books by Ss. Thomas & Augustine, but the simple fact is ~ and has always been ~ that the Love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is one and the same with His Divine Mercy.
There are countless other Saints who had no education to speak of, working the fields, cleaning houses, raising families...you name it...and the one underlying facet of their entire mutual existence was that they knew He loved them, therefore they accepted His Love on pure Faith alone.
That's as much as He is asking from any of us, isn't it?

Michael Hallman said...

Augustinian you say?! How dare you!

:-P