Month: September 2015

A SHORT MEDITATION ON SAINT THERESE AND HER ARDENT DESIRE FOR GOD

 “What prepares the soul to be united with God  is the desire for God”  
   (St. John of the Cross)



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      From time to time it is helpful to pause and consider whether we are sincerely seeking after God. It is a valuable spiritual exercise simply to gauge your desire for God. A question to consider is whether there is anything in your life you value more than God? It is critical that you love God more than self, and all created things in God.

     A great desire for God, the Summum Bonum (Greatest Good), is key to our spiritual progress. The saints saw with true wisdom that the great good in life is the “Ever-Blessed God” who is Infinite Goodness (what can compare to Infinite Goodness: all the other goods in the world, wrapped together as one big bundle of good, are less than nothing compared to He who IS); and seeing this truth, and moved by it, the saints went after God with an unremitting intensity, knowing that union with this Infinitely Good God was the only true and final end of life.

     We affectionately call Saint Therese “The Little Flower”.  And all the saints were aware of their extreme littleness compared to God: humility is the pathway to God. But it would be a mistake not to see in Saint Therese the heart of a lion who went after God with a ferocious appetite. In fact, Saint Therese in her autobiography compares herself to “a weak little bird” who has “the eyes and heart of an eagle” (Manuscript B). An ardent desire for God – above all created goods – is characteristic of the saints.

     The sentimental image of Therese as a charming French girl who gave her life to God by becoming a nun and offered up little sacrifices on God’s behalf is true – yet her life runs even deeper than that. Her life is the story of a girl and then a young woman who was radically in love with God and who wished to offer herself to God in an exchange of love that took her completely beyond herself and into God (nuptial union). Therese’s “little way” of “making love the mainspring of every action” requires the profound, constant and universal mortification of self-love and self-interest. It is a little way but with huge implications for growth in holiness. The sweet, little way is a death – a death to self. Under-girding Therese’s little way, therefore, is an ardent love of God expressed by a sacrificial life.

     Of Therese, Father Christopher O’Donnell says: “When we get beneath the language and culture of Therese, we find that for all her charm, she was almost ruthless in her pursuit of holiness in her complete sacrifice to God’s merciful love.” Here are a few examples from Saint Therese’s autobiography which demonstrate her great desire to offer herself to God: 
 
     –  she reflects in her autobiography that around age 6 “I loved God intensely,  and very often I  offered Him my heart in words taught me by Mummy” (Image, p.32);
 
     –  At age 13 she writes these words of Saint John of the Cross in “fine lettering” : “To suffer and to be despised” (Gaucher, p.11);
 
    – At age 14 “while contemplating an image of Christ on the cross, she resolved to ‘remain in spirit at the foot of the cross’ in order to gather the blood that drips from his wounds and give it to souls” (Gaucher, p. 13); and
 
     – While a nun at Carmel (around age 22) she makes a profound offering of her life to God as a “victim of love” in a written text available online entitled, “An Act of Oblation to Merciful Love.”
                               
                            
      What is the lesson here? It is this: you gotta want God. You gotta go after God with great desire. Oh Mother Mary, please place in our hearts a portion of thy own desire for God.
     Practical recommendation: make a novena to Saint Therese for either a greater desire for God or for greater confidence in God.
 

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart,” said the Lord (Jeremiah 29:13). 


Tom Mulcahy, M.A.

 


ReferencesIn the opening pages of The Ascent of Mount Carmel Saint John of the Cross constantly reminds the reader of the nothingness of everything else compared to God, and I am using his language and that of Father Faber in this note (paragraph two). I am also relying on Bishop Guy Gaucher’s book, John and Therese: Flames of Love.

Image: Picture of Saint Therese, Public Domain, U.S.A.

 

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RELIGIOUS POETRY AS A SOURCE OF MEDITATION AND PSYCHOLOGICAL HEALING

     Religious poetry can be very healing and comforting inasmuch as it draws us closer to God who is the source of all goodness and well-being. Poetry in general has always had a metaphysical dimension, but religious poetry has a theological dimension because it is specifically God-directed. “And our hearts are restless until they rest in Him.” Poetry can help us to attain to this rest in God, which in turn enhances our well-being.

     Psalm 23 can be particularly comforting:

                        The Lord is my shepherd;
                        I shall not want.
                        He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
                        He leads me beside the still waters.
                        He restores my soul;
                        He leads me in the paths of righteousness
                        For His name’s sake.
                        Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
                        I will fear no evil;
                        For You are with me (vs. 1-4)

     Psychiatrist Smiley Blanton relates he had little success in treating a patient’s depression until he began reading to her these words from Cardinal Newman’s poem Lead, Kindly Light:

Lead, kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom,
Lead Thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home—
Lead Thou me on!
Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene—one step enough for me.

 I was not ever thus, nor prayed that Thou
Shouldst lead me on.
I loved to choose and see my path; but now,
Lead Thou me on!
I loved the garish day, and, spite of fears,
Pride ruled my will: remember not past years.   

So long thy power hath blessed me, sure it still
Will lead me on;
O’er moor and fen, o’er crag and torrent, till
The night is gone;
And with the morn those angel faces smile
Which I have loved long since, and lost awhile.

Dr. Smiley states: “Later, I explained that her depression would take some time to cure but that her recovery would be hastened if she would just try to relax for an hour or so each day and as far as possible banish all unpleasant thoughts from her mind. And I recommended she prepare herself by reading this poem and some others…. (The Healing Power of Poetry, p.30).” Dr. Smiley further states that “I write from a long experience in using poetry as a specific means of therapy.”

     The poetic originality of the priest-poet Gerard Manley Hopkins has a profound rejuvenating quality to it. Here we look at his masterpiece, God’s Grandeur.

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
   It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
  It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed.
  Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
  And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
  And wears man's smudge and shares man's smell:  the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;
  There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
  Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs—
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
  World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

What is it about this poem that heals us? It is as W.H. Gardner observes of Hopkin’s poetry the “sensation of inscape – a quasi-mystical illumination, a sudden perception of the deeper pattern, order, and unity which gives meaning to external forms….” (Penguin Poets, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Introduction). Hopkin’s poetry frees us from the excessive analysis that burdens the mind and takes us back to the “primal intensity” of simplicity and beauty that draws us nearer to God. Here is another example of “inscape” in Hopkin’s poetry:

Pied Beauty
Glory be to God for dappled things
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
Landscapes plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;
And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.
 
All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
Praise Him.

     John Ciardi once said that “Poetry itself is a religion; it gives meaning to life.” Paul Roche adds that poetry “is in touch with a wider, deeper and more immediate range of being.” But religious poetry goes even further than this: it puts us in touch with the primordial reality of all things: God who has life in Himself. The greatest value of (religious) poetry, then, when read and meditated upon, is that it restores our own being in God. Now that’s Catholic strength!

Thomas Mulcahy, M.A.

Ref. I am relying primarily on The Healing Power of Poetry by Dr. Smiley Blanton (Guidepost Associates, Inc.). Nothing in this note is intended to be a substitute for good and necessary medical and professional care.

Note on poetry and prayer: When the words of a poem, deeply experienced, elevate your heart to God there is in this moment an invitation to prayer. It is not to be forgotten that the ultimate purpose of meditation is to enkindle prayer and conversation with God. On this point see Pope Benedict XVI’s address of August 31, 2011 wherein he discusses how “artistic beauty can lead the heart to God” and prayer. See also Conversation With Christ by Thomas Rohrbach. Prayer unites us to God.

Photo attribution: The photo above is by Edwardx, March 29, 2014, “Gerard Manley Hopkins BluePlaque,” at Wikipedia under Gerard Manley Hopkins,  available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial license.

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THE OBJECTIVITY OF THINGS AND POPE FRANCIS

POPE FRANCIS AND THE “ECOLOGY OF THE BODY”

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                 “Male and female God created them” (Genesis 1:28)

      In his highly publicized encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si, Pope Francis makes some fascinating insights into the ecology of the human body. There can be little doubt that Pope Francis has a thorough knowledge of Saint John Paul II’s well known “theology of the body,” and Francis mentions explicitly in his encyclical Pope Benedict’s “ecology of man.” Pope Francis states that a genuine human ecology involves the acceptance of our bodies in the male and female forms in which nature gives them to us. He states that it is “not a healthy attitude” which would seek to “cancel out sexual differences” between men and women.

     These words of our Holy Father are found in section 155 of Laudato Si, under the heading, “Ecology and Daily Life,” and are set forth below:

155. Human ecology also implies another profound reality: the relationship between human life and the moral law, which is inscribed in our nature and is necessary for the creation of a more dignified environment. Pope Benedict XVI spoke of an “ecology of man”, based on the fact that “man too has a nature that he must respect and that he cannot manipulate at will”. It is enough to recognize that our body itself establishes us in a direct relationship with the environment and with other living beings. The acceptance of our bodies as God’s gift is vital for welcoming and accepting the entire world as a gift from the Father and our common home, whereas thinking that we enjoy absolute power over our own bodies turns, often subtly, into thinking that we enjoy absolute power over creation. Learning to accept our body, to care for it and to respect its fullest meaning, is an essential element of any genuine human ecology. Also, valuing one’s own body in its femininity or masculinity is necessary if I am going to be able to recognize myself in an encounter with someone who is different. In this way we can joyfully accept the specific gifts of another man or woman, the work of God the Creator, and find mutual enrichment. It is not a healthy attitude which would seek “to cancel out sexual difference because it no longer knows how to confront it”.

      The Holy Father Francis also wrote, just days prior to the release of the encyclical, these important words:

“… Being parents is based on the diversity of being male and female, as the Bible reminds us. This is the ‘first’ and most fundamental difference, constitutive of the human being. It is a wealth. Differences are wealth. “We men learn to recognize, through the female figures we encounter in life, the extraordinary beauty that women bear. And women follow a similar path, learning from male figures that the man is different and has his own way of feeling, understanding and living. And this communion in difference is very important also in the education of children”. (Pope Francis,  June, 2015)

     Marriage between a man and a woman is deeply embedded in the wisdom of creation and the ecology of the body. Pope Francis makes this point in a beautiful way in his encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si, and Jesus affirms this truth in the most radical way possible (see Matt. 19: 3-10).

Tom Mulcahy, M.A.

 

       

MAKING NEW HUMAN BEINGS: THE DESPIRITUALIZATION PHENOMENON

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       “Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?” (T.S. Eliot)

       In order to completely desensitize human beings to spiritual life let us feed them, through a hand held electronic device, continuous sensory images of little or no value, letting them think that the only real thing in life is the flash of an image that provides some small but instantaneous gratification, multiplied on and on by more images, until our subjects are not so much humans any more but automatons.

     Our goal will be to especially deprive younger human beings of any sort of real life, of any sort of real relationship with another human being, by enslaving them to a false life of sensory addiction where, even while walking in nature, they will be addicted to their hand-held machine and the illusion of real life they cling to within the machine. A hundred thousand images an hour will keep their senses in bondage. They will never be able to raise their thoughts to anything higher, or more noble, than the next image. Spiritual life will have no meaning, for it will have no reference point.

     Look! It’s working. We are robbing these kids of their vital spirit. They are devolving. It’s like a drug. They need the machine to be happy. But it’s killing them. They are becoming soul-less human beings.

Tom Mulcahy, M.A.

P.S. Perhaps a bit over the top, but don’t think this isn’t happening to some degree in many of the young. They think the shadows are real, because they never look up at the sun. I care about these kids, and I know you do too. The remedy to this very real and serious problem involves the great Catholic spiritual principle of detachment, where we begin to control our desire for things that are stunting or limiting our true moral and spiritual development, eliminating anything which is immoral, and strictly limiting things which are harmful because they keep us away from other activities which are far more humanizing and God-directed. In the order of the human being, God is the greatest good to which all other goods must be subordinated. Prayer is a fundamental antidote to despiritualization.

Pope Francis states:

47. “Furthermore, when media and the digital world become omnipresent, their influence can stop people from learning how to live wisely, to think deeply and to love generously. In this context, the great sages of the past run the risk of going unheard amid the noise and distractions of an information overload. Efforts need to be made to help these media become sources of new cultural progress for humanity and not a threat to our deepest riches. True wisdom, as the fruit of self-examination, dialogue and generous encounter between persons, is not acquired by a mere accumulation of data which eventually leads to overload and confusion, a sort of mental pollution. Real relationships with others, with all the challenges they entail, now tend to be replaced by a type of internet communication which enables us to choose or eliminate relationships at whim, thus giving rise to a new type of contrived emotion which has more to do with devices and displays than with other people and with nature. Today’s media do enable us to communicate and to share our knowledge and affections. Yet at times they also shield us from direct contact with the pain, the fears and the joys of others and the complexity of their personal experiences. For this reason, we should be concerned that, alongside the exciting possibilities offered by these media, a deep and melancholic dissatisfaction with interpersonal relations, or a harmful sense of isolation, can also arise.”
 

From:ENCYCLICAL LETTER

LAUDATO SI’
    

JESUS EMPHASIZES THE INDISSOLUBILITY OF MARRIAGE

THE TEN BEST REASONS NOT TO GO TO CONFESSION

 

 

1. YOU WISH THAT CONFESSION WASN’T AVAILABLE SO CLOSE BY AT THE CHURCH JUST UP THE STREET, AS YOU WOULD RATHER BE REQUIRED TO TAKE AN EXOTIC PILGRIMAGE TO A DANGEROUS FOREIGN LAND IN ORDER TO HAVE YOUR SINS FORGIVEN.

2. YOU BELIEVE THAT PEOPLE SHOULD BE CHARGED TO GO TO CONFESSION, AND THE CURRENT PRICE OF ZERO DOLLARS TO GO TO CONFESSION IS NOT FAIR TO THE CHURCH.

3. YOU BELIEVE THAT IT IS UNJUST AND TOO GENEROUS ON GOD’S PART TO LET PEOPLE GO TO CONFESSION AS MANY TIMES AS THEY WANT, AND YOU BELIEVE THAT CONFESSION SHOULD BE LIMITED TO ONCE A DECADE.

4. YOU BELIEVE THE VERSE WHERE JESUS GAVE HIS PRIESTS POWER TO FORGIVE SINS, JOHN 20:23, IS A MEDIEVAL FORGERY OF A WAYWARD BISHOP.

5. YOU BELIEVE THAT CONFESSION SHOULD TAKE LONGER THAN JUST A FEW MINUTES (YOUR SUGGESTION IS TWO HOURS).

6. YOU BELIEVE THAT CONFESSION SHOULD NOT BE AVAILABLE AT EVERY CHURCH IN THE DIOCESE BECAUSE THEN IT BECOMES COMMON AND UNEXCEPTIONAL.

7. YOU DON’T BELIEVE WE SHOULD CONFESS OUR SINS TO ANOTHER PERSON, AND YOUR PROOF TEXT FOR THIS BELIEF IS JAMES 5:16 WHICH SAYS “CONFESS YOUR SINS TO ONE ANOTHER.”

8. YOU BELIEVE THE PENANCES GIVEN OUT BY PRIESTS ARE EXTRAORDINARILY LIGHT, AND YOU WOULD MUCH PREFER MANLY MORTIFICATIONS OF A SOMEWHAT IMPRESSIVE NATURE.

9. YOU BELIEVE THE CONFIDENTIAL SEAL OF THE CONFESSIONAL MAKES YOUR SINS TOO SECRETIVE, AND YOU WOULD PREFER EVERYONE TO KNOW ALL YOUR SINS.

10. YOU WOULD PREFER NOT TO HAVE ALL YOUR SINS FORGIVEN AND YOUR SLATE WIPED CLEAN.

 
Tom
Note: The basis for this note comes from Father Faber, who suggests with irony that perhaps people would be more interested in confession if the Pope made the sacrament more difficult to obtain as in having to travel to a foreign land after first completing extraordinary penances. It has been reported that Pope Francis goes to Confession approximately every two weeks. Photo courtesy of Adam Smith.

 

 

Returning College Students: The New Atheism has Serious Flaws

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“The Big Bang, which nowadays is posited as the origin of the world, does not contradict the divine act of creating, but rather requires it”  (Pope Francis)

     The so called “New Atheism,” which even refers to itself as a venture in improbability, is permanently flawed (for as the genius of G.K.  Chesterton points out, “if there was no God, there would be no atheists!”).  As far as I’m concerned, the only thing different about the new atheism, when compared to the old atheism, is that the new atheism is newer than the old atheism! In fact, David Hart (who wrote a book on this subject) is of the opinion that the old atheists were actually better atheists than the new ones. He laments:

 “The principal source of my melancholy, however, is my firm conviction that today’s most obstreperous infidels lack the courage, moral intelligence, and thoughtfulness of their forefathers in faithlessness.”  (“Believe it or Not” www.firstthings.com)

     The real appeal of atheism is not its intellectual prowess (atheism requires a positively irrational faith in blind chance); no, the real appeal of atheism is moral autonomy so that God can be conveniently pushed aside. “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God'” (Psalm 14:1).

     Frankly, these new atheists need to show a little more humility. It’s not like they’ve suddenly discovered the answer to the age old question: “Why is there something rather than nothing?” Point in fact: the well known physicist, Stephen Hawking, who responded to the question, “Why does the universe bother to exist?,” by saying: “I don’t know the answer to that.”

     I have to admit that it is always a little amusing to me when a mere creature, who has only been alive no more than a handful of decades, proclaims with noticeable hubris that his mind has reached the conclusion that the universe – and human beings – are nothing but an accident. I have greater respect for the deist who sees the implausibility of denying a creator, but has a great distaste for actually having any sort of relationship with such a being. In any event, if the computer I am typing on was to suddenly start shouting at me that it had no ultimate designer, and that it came about by mere chance, I would have to tell it to, well, shut-up!

       Recently I had the idea of pretending to be an atheist. I wanted to see what it felt like to be an atheist (to believe somehow that all that we see, hear, feel and touch is nothing but an accident). I even thought of praying to the ungod of the accidental universe to see how he managed to bring it all together by accident (although here I could be accused of reverting to primitive religious superstition). But I prayed to this ungod anyways.  And as I prayed my lovely wife walked into the room: and I said, “ungod, you are truly amazing.”    

     There’s my wife, and she is sort of like a perfect partner to me! She’s all so feminine (thanks for those gentle curves), and I’m masculine (I played football in seventh grade). I must be insane to think that you pulled off this amazing complementarity between my wife and I by accident, and so hats off to you, ungod, because the chances of this happening by accident must have been, well, zero.” I paused then to see if ungod would say anything back to me, but he didn’t, and the whole thing actually backfired on me as I began to see the complementarity between my wife and I as a rather obvious revelation that I did have a creator. Then I remembered that quote by C.S. Lewis: “A young man who wishes to remain a sound atheist cannot be too careful of his reading.” In my case, it simply wasn’t a good idea to pray to ungod.     

     Years ago Carl Sagan (the astronomer) was the unofficial High Priest of atheistic scientism. Sagan helped to popularize Haeckel’s theory of recapitulation, a theory that maintains that human embryonic development recapitulates in miniature the grand course of human biological evolution. It is well known, now, that Haeckel forged some of his well known drawings of human embryonic development (ones that were standard for years in biology texts and tended to dehumanize the fetus), and the theory is now generally regarded as defunct. We therefore need to be careful not to grant to scientific theory an aura of infallibility that ultimately serves merely as a disservice to science. Even scientists need to distinguish carefully between scientific fact and scientific theory. Thus, in the current debate over evolution, it is important to know that the two leading proponents of the theory – Dawkins and Gould – have seemingly diametrically opposing views as to how evolution happened , i.e., the dispute between gradualism and punctuated equilibrium. Gould opted for punctuated equilibrium due to the paucity of the fossil record. We still have a lot to learn about the “mechanics and pace” of biological evolution. Pope Francis points us in the right direction, having said: “The evolution of nature does not contrast with the notion of creation, as evolution presupposes the creation of beings that evolve.”

      Dawkins’ book, The Blind Watchmaker, shows just how unscientific scientists can be. Frankly,  Dawkins (one of the top “new atheists”) must be embarrassed for having said what he said. In his book, Dawkins maintains that if one was to see a statue of the Virgin Mary wave its hand, such an occurrence, although improbable, could be explained by the laws of physics and chemistry. Here are Dawkins own words from the book:

“In the case of the marble statue, molecules in solid marble are continuously jostling against one another in random directions. The jostlings of the different molecules cancel one another out, so the whole hand of the statue stays still. But if, by sheer coincidence, all the molecules just happened to move in the same direction at the same moment, the hand would move. If they then all reversed direction at the same moment the hand would move back. In this way it is possible for a marble statue to wave at us. It could happen. The odds against such a coincidence are unimaginably great but they are not incalculably great. A physicist colleague has kindly calculated them for me. The number is so large that the entire age of the universe so far is too short a time to write out all the noughts! It is theoretically possible for a cow to jump over the moon with something [[171]] like the same improbability. The conclusion to this part of the argument is that we can calculate our way into regions of miraculous improbability far greater than we can imagine as plausible.”

Let’s give Dawkins a break. Perhaps he was having a bad day when he wrote this rubbish. But how can I trust anything he says in light of the scientific foolishness employed by him in the just cited quotation.

      Michael Corey, in discussing the possibility whether our “wondrous universe could have evolved by blind chance” quotes the distinguished University of Montreal psychiatrist Karl Stern as  labeling such a view of the universe as “crazy.” He further quotes Stern as saying: “And I do not at all mean crazy in the sense of a slangy invective but rather in the technical meaning of psychotic. Indeed such a view has much in common with certain aspects of schizophrenic thinking” (God and the New Cosmology, p.220). Stern is basically maintaining that it is flat out irrational to believe the universe came about by chance or accident.

     Theism – belief in God –  is grounded in common sense. It need not be intimidated by the “bio-mythology” of an accidental universe. College is not the place to stop praying: it is rather a great place to deepen your prayer life and trust in God. If you make the effort to advance in prayer, the reality of God will become more and more an experiential reality to you. You will “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8).

Tom Mulcahy, M.A.

Ref. Answering the New Atheism (Wiker and Hahn). Concerning the complementary relationship between faith and science, see Catechism of the Catholic Church, sections 159, 283 and 284. In October of 2014, Pope Francis stated the following: “The Big Bang, which nowadays is posited as the origin of the world, does not contradict the divine act of creating, but rather requires it. The evolution of nature does not contrast with the notion of creation, as evolution presupposes the creation of beings that evolve.”

BE A LITTLE GREEDY FOR HEAVEN: CONSIDER THE IMMENSITY OF THE REWARD

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I AM NEEDED: A PROFOUND FRAGMENT OF LOVE’S DEEP LOGIC

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      Let us therefore love God, because God first hath loved us”  (1 John 4:19)

     In his lengthy biography of the life of Saint Pope John Paul II, George Wiegel includes a letter written by the then Father Wojtyla (the future Pope John Paul II) to Teresa Heydel. In this letter the future Pope shares with Teresa a profound insight of his into the nature of love, saying:

  “After many experiences and a lot of thinking,  I am convinced that the (objective) starting point of love is the realization that I am needed by another.  The person who objectively needs me most  is also, for me, objectively, the person I most need. This is a fragment of life’s deep logic, and  also a fragment of trusting in the Creator and in Providence.”   (Witness To Hope, p. 102)

George Wiegel comments that “Love, for Karol Wojtyla, was the truth at the very center of the human condition, and love always meant self-giving, not self-assertion” (p. 101). In this short note, I would like to make two applications of Saint John Paul II’s special insight into the nature of love – his conviction being that the objective starting point for love is the realization that I am needed by another.

     The first application of the Pope’s special insight into the nature of love involves a person who is struggling in life and feels either unwanted or of little value. The psychological value of the Pope’s insight into the nature of love is not only to assure this person that you love him (consider, for example, a child who has been bullied) but, moreover, that you need his love. The child needs to know not only that he (or she) is loved but also that he is needed by you (that you need his love).

     The second application of the Pope’s special insight into the nature of love touches upon the very mystery of your own existence. If love means that we are truly needed by another, then it follows logically that God has chosen to need your love! Stated in another manner, God truly desires and seeks your love. Does this not fill your heart with love for God!

     Saint Therese of Lisieux, who was declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope John Paul II, received profound insights from the Holy Spirit about the nature of love. She says in her autobiography that in “1895  I received the grace to understand better than ever how much Jesus desires to be loved.” In another place in her autobiography she tells us that Jesus sought out the love of the Samaritan woman he met at the well (see John 4: 1-27). Saint Therese says, “[Jesus] did not fear to beg for a little water from the Samaritan woman. He was thirsty. But when he said:‘Give me to drink,’ it was the love of His poor creature the Creator of the universe was seeking. He was thirsty for love” (Autobiography, Clarke edition, p.189). Jesus truly desires and needs your love.

     Father Faber, who died about ten years before Saint Therese was born, adds these words:

 ” That God condescends intensely to desire our love, there can be  no possible doubt….Blessed, blessed God! Wonderful Father…this mystery of His desiring our poor love should of itself be a lifelong joy to us in our time of pilgrimage.”   (The Creator and the Creature, pages 124-125)

A profound fragment of love’s deep logic – rooted in the Wisdom of creation – is that God loves you and desires your love in return. It is a fragment of Infinite worth.

Tom Mulcahy, M.A.

     Reference: The inspiration and material for this note comes from Consoling the Heart of Jesus (see especially page 58) by Father Michael E. Gaitley. In his book Father Gaitley explains how Jesus’ words, “I thirst,” were of profound importance in the spirituality of both Saint Therese of Lisieux and Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta. In considering, theologically, God’s need for our love we should reflect on the fact that God freely chose in Jesus Christ to become a human being, thus linking His life profoundly with the human race.