Monthly Archives: April 2011

How Do I Learn to Love God?

If the answer is to love God more, the question then becomes, “How do I learn to love God more?”
God teaches us how, through the sacrament of marriage. As I discussed before, marriage is supposed to be hard, because in marriage we are learning how to love, and in particular, how to love God. So by looking at how we learn to love our spouse, we learn how to love God.

  1. Knowledge of our beloved
    To love someone, we must know them. Dating is all about getting to know someone, but it doesn’t stop there. Throughout our married life, we continue to share ourselves with our spouse. We talk about the present and the past, learning about our spouse as he or she changes and grows.
    Likewise, we must continue to learn about God. To know Him more and more intimately. We do this primarily through the reading of sacred scriptures, but the writings of the Church and of the saints are essential to understanding what we are reading in the scriptures, fallible creatures that we are. Just as in a marriage we must learn about our spouse every day, in our faith life we must learn about our Lord every day, and if we do so faithfully, we will be shocked at how much there is to know.
  2. Spending time with our beloved
    Time together is critical for a marriage. We spend time together every day, to make sure we are connected. We have dates every week, show how important we are to each other. We have longer, special times monthly or at specific events, to celebrate our love.
    We must do the same with God. We must spend quality time with Him daily, in prayer. We must have that more special extended visit with Him, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, at least weekly. And then there are the feasts, whether they are days of obligation or not, they are opportunities to celebrate with our Lord.
  3. Defending our beloved
    Would you ever spend time with someone who disliked or even hated your wife? Would you stand casually by while a “friend” spoke badly of her? We must give God at least that much courtesy. At least that much devotion. We must make friends that share our feelings about God, and we must stand up to those who would disparage him. Otherwise, we will be prone to assimilating the negative attitudes of those not close to God.
  4. Finding couples to emulate
    If we want a good marriage, we find couples who have good marriages already. We watch what they do and how they treat each other. Likewise with faith. If we want to grow in our love of God, we must surround ourselves with those who love Him, and we must try to emulate them. Otherwise, we will be emulating someone else.
  5. Reflect frequently on how much our beloved loves us
    When we think how much our spouse loves us, we feel emotionally compelled to love them back. This is even more true when it comes to God. When we realize how much God loves us, truly loves us, we can become overwhelmes at the infinite nature of that love. It is love that can bring joy even to a life of great suffering. In the face of that love, how can we not love Him back?

Remember this: love is not a feeling. It is a decision and an action. It is something under our control. If we decide to love, and we act with love, the emotions will follow, in their own time. So, to love God more, we simply have to decide to do it, and then act on it.

Let the Light of the Resurrection Shine Forth in Everything We Say and Do

After the long somber and penitential season of Lent, it may be difficult to transition to the joy of Easter. Even the apostles had difficulty accepting it. But transition we must, because in the end, it all comes down to the resurrection. We can fast all we want, we can repent of our sins as much as we want (and yes, these things are necessary), but without the resurrection, it would all be for naught.
And we are not called to be a somber and sorrowful people. When we fast, we are not to let the world know. We are called, especially as parents and spouses, to exhibit the joy of the gift that Christ has given us.
Through His sacrifice, Christ has opened up Heaven for us. Yes, we still have to accept His gift. We still have to carry our crosses and enter our own little Calvarys in order to reach that gift. But He gives us the graces we need to do that.
So in spite of our suffering, in spite of our struggles with sin, we are right to be joyful. Our spouse needs to see it; our kids need to see it; and especially the world needs to see it from us as a family. Let them see the truth of the resurrection in everything we say and do. It is our duty and our privilege.

The Answer is to Love God More

When we struggle to accept a difficult situation, the answer is to love God more.
When we battle with a sin that we just can’t shake, the answer is to love God more.
When we want to do God’s will but just don’t know what that is, the answer is to love God more.
When we cannot forgive our neighbor, the answer is to love God more.
When our prayer life is dry, the answer is to love God more.
When we are angry or hurt or afraid, the answer is to love God more.
When our suffering is more than we think we can bear, the answer is to love God more.

When we love God more, we love ourselves less.
When we love God more, we love the world less.
When we love God more, we see Him in the eyes of those around us.
When we love God more, we find joy in unlikely places.
When we love God more, we come to understand His love for us.
When we love God more, we learn to love our neighbor.
When we love God more, we open ourselves to His abundant graces.
When we love God more, His will becomes our will.
The answer is to love God more.

Thérèse of Lisieux and Louis de Montfort: Two Great Saints Who Go Great Together

I have long loved St. Thérèse of Lisieux. She holds a special place in my family, and she was the inspiration of this blog. I’ve always known that I will never be a hermit on a mountain or a prophet in the desert or a Doctor of the Church. The gifts God has given me are humble gifts, and they are unlikely to earn me a feast day or my own page on Saint of the Day. I am just a husband and a father, with my own virtues and foibles, challenges and opportunities. Thérèse taught me that I don’t have to move mountains to get to heaven. I just have to do the little things with great love. And we are all capable of great love.

Now that I have made my consecration to Jesus through Mary, I see how St. Louis de Montfort is trying to lead us down the same path.

St. Thérèse says, “Expect all things from the good God just as a little child expects all things from its father.” We are to approach God with a childlike love and trust.

St. Louis de Montfort says, “If you put all the love of all the mothers into one heart it still would not equal the love of the Heart of Mary for her children.”

Every child needs a father AND a mother. And we ARE children. St. Thérèse didn’t make this up. Christ, himself, told us this:.

“Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3.

Every child needs a father AND a mother. St. Thérèse exhorts us to remain a child:

“Even among poor people, a child is given all it needs, as long as it is very little, but as soon as it has grown up, the father does not want to support it any longer and says: “Work, now you are able to take care of yourself”. Because I never want to hear these words I do not want to grow up, feeling that I can never earn my living, that is, eternal life in heaven. So I have stayed little, and have no other occupation than of gathering flowers of love and sacrifice and of offering them to the good God to please Him.”

And St. Louis de Montfort guides us to our Mother:

“Mary alone gives to the unfortunate children of unfaithful Eve entry into that earthly paradise where they may walk pleasantly with God and be safely hidden from their enemies.”

What these two wonderful Saints are saying is that we do not need to resign ourselves to a morose and laborious spiritual life, filled with privations and fear of eternal punishment. As St. Thérèse said:

“You are not sufficiently trusting, you fear God too much. I assure you that this grieves Him. Do not be afraid of going to purgatory because of its pain, but rather long not to go there because this pleases God who imposes this expiation so regretfully. From the moment that you try to please Him in all things, if you have the unshakable confidence that He will purify you at every instant in His love and will leave in you no trace of sin, be very sure that you will not go to purgatory.”

Our faith must, instead, be suffused with joy and love. And it will be, if we entrust ourselves to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of His Most Blessed Mother. As St. Louis de Montfort said:

“Happy, then, a thousand times happy, are the Christians who are now fastened faithfully and entirely to Her, as to a firm anchor!”

Be a child. Entrust yourself to Mary. Love Christ. Love His Mother. If we love Christ, we follow His command to take His Mother into our home.

When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his
home.
John 19: 26-27

So both of these great Saints are guiding us to take the Blessed Mother as our Mother, and allow her to bring us closer to Jesus.

In fact, St. Thérèse’s memory of her first communion – “In that first ‘fusion’ with Jesus (holy communion), it was my Heavenly Mother again who accompanied me to the altar for it was she herself who placed her Jesus into my
soul.” – mirrors St. Louis de Montfort’s instructions on receiving Holy Communion: “Implore Mary to lend you her heart so that you may receive her Son with her dispositions.”

So listen to these wonderful Saints. Be a child. Take Mary as your mother. Consecrate yourself to Jesus through Mary. Make of yourself a humble and joyful Christian.