Last week, we finished by saying that growing in holiness is the way to learn how to love with godly love, as well. St. John the Theologian tells us that we love because God loved us first (1 Jn. 4:19). This naturally has its roots in our creation in the image and likeness of God and implies that the best love a human being can offer is similar to the love that God has for us. Our goal, therefore, is to be able to have and offer that love.
There are two elements in our quest to acquire this love. The first is to learn about God’s love. We do this by examining the Scriptures, in particular as they speak to us about Christ’s ministry, by learning how the Church has understood Scripture through the teachings of the saints on these passages, and by reading the lives of the saints to see how God’s love was manifested in their lives. In this way we acquire the rational knowledge about God’s love.
The second element is getting to the point of experiencing that love and learning from it directly. This is the process of sanctification, which involves participation in the sacramental life of the church, prayer, fasting, almsgiving, struggling against sin, acquiring virtues, in short making God the central, essential element of our lives. Ultimately, this brings us to a direct and personal knowledge of God. This knowledge does not contradict the knowledge acquired through the study involved in the first element of our quest, but rather enriches it. When the knowledge is personal, it becomes ours, no longer acquired from others, but it is based on our own experience of God. As a result, our hearts and our entire lives are transformed by the experience.
The two elements mentioned are pursued at the same time. In the coming weeks we will explore each element in more detail. May God bless and guide our journey of love towards Him.
With love in