Who Do We Truly Love?
“No more sleeping! We’ve slept so long we are dead to the state of grace.”
(St Catherine of Siena T24)
How should one evaluate one's relationship to God? What does the statement that people often make, "I believe in God" really mean to them? Is God a passing thought in one's mind every so often possibly invoking an inspiration to utter a prayer here and there when one is in need of something? Do most of us think God is grading on a curve and as long as we are not on par with a Hitler or a Stalin we are as good as in when it comes to heaven? What is the idea of heaven to most people? Why do we really think we will end up there, and do many of us even truly desire to go there? All of these questions can be boiled down to one which is, "who do we truly love?"
In speaking with many people it is evident that they do not give much thought about God in their day to day lives. For most it seems that God is an afterthought and He is only to sought out their terms, not on God's. It seems that few examine their consciences or even seek to understand what it is they really believe and why they believe it. God has truly revealed Himself to us through His one and only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. Christ has revealed Himself to us through the establishment of His one and only Church, through His apostles which is the Catholic Church. His apostles ordained their followers and we have an unbroken line of apostolic succession to this very day through the very same Catholic Church to which Christ said in reference to, "...thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." (Matthew 16:18) Yet there are very few who listen and follow Christ.
What does it mean to believe in God? It is not as many think, that it is a passing mental ascent of the belief in the existence of a "higher power." To truly believe in God one must believe everything He has revealed about Himself. This includes living the way He has told us to live, and love as He has commanded us to love. Then we must ask ourselves "what is love?", and "to whom do we owe first and foremost our love?" The idea of love in our culture is deluded in secular ideology. To truly love someone you must desire their true good, and the greatest good is that they love God. We must love God first, not our spouse, our girlfriend, our family or friends, although of course it is good that we love them. God however should always come first when it comes to our love. The truth is, we cannot truly love our friends and family properly, in the truest sense if we do not love God first. God instills in us a charity which cannot be obtained anywhere else other than through Him. Natural love is not true love, only a love that is lifted up by divine grace is truly love.
So we must ask ourselves, if we love God above all else, how is it that we show this love? Do we pray everyday and spend time with God? If we spend time daily with friends and family but not with God, do we really love God? If we sleep in on Sunday rather than attend the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass where He gives Himself to us, do we really love Him? Is football, golf or TV really our first love rather than God? If it is, you are worshiping idols. If your party life is more important to you than God then where is your love? Do you ever stop to think that our adversary the devil and his minions look for ways to keep you from paying attention to God until its too late?
Many go on and on distracted by worldly affairs loving the created rather than the creator until they find themselves eternally separated from God because they found their own selfish inclinations more important than Him. We should listen to the warning which Saint Francis of Assisi gave to his followers, “..let us beware of the malice and craftiness of Satan, who does not want anyone to turn his mind and heart to God…he wants to blind it through worldly affairs…” (Early Rule of St Francis) Where is your attention?
Do we really love God and do we really want to go to heaven? If we have an apathetic relationship to God now, do we really think that would change in heaven? Is our idea of heaven sitting around drinking and partying as if these mild worldly pleasures would ever come close to measuring up with being face to face with God? This idea is so Pollyanish and childish, yet there are countless people who subscribe to this very idea. Christ Himself calls us to reconsider our idea of heaven. He does this out of love. Many think that since God loves us that He really doesn't care what we do, how we live or how we love Him. It is true that God loves us all, otherwise He would not have sent His only begotten Son to us to redeem us in His passion death and resurrection. God however does not force us to love Him, we have our own freewill to decide if we will love Him or not. So God sends us His grace to draw us to Him, and we must cooperate with His call. "For many are called, but few are chosen." (Matthew 22:14)
Again, the most important question we should be asking ourselves is, "who do we truly love?" If we love God then our actions must show this love in some manifestation, according to God's expectation and not ours. We insult God by not being present at Mass, not confessing our sins, and not making attempts to grow closer to God in holiness. The most damaging idea that many hold today is that they think God is grading on a curve and that as long as your not as bad as the guy next to you then you are fine. God does not grade on curves. God simply asks for our love to which we are truly obligated to give Him.
So we should look upon Christ on the cross and ask ourselves if we truly love Him. If our answer is yes then we must turn our attention towards Him in a way that proves our love. Thus we must seek out Christ, His one true Church and give our love and ascent to what He teaches us in order for us to grow in love for Him. Perseverance is required in our quest to love God. Our souls are either moving towards God or away from Him. God the Father spoke to St Catherine of Siena concerning this, “anything worthwhile calls for perseverance, and because they do not persevere they never find the object of their desire, never reach the goal toward which they had set out…So perseverance is essential if you want to see your desires realized…The soul cannot but move: If she does not go forward, she turns back.” We must then put this question up for serious consideration. "Who is it that we truly love?", our own selfish desires, other people, our hobbies, our vices, or is it first God? I will leave you with some sobering words from Denis the Carthusian, “On God we must fix our gaze and our attention…I pity you who honour the presence of personages rather than the presence of God.”