Saturday, August 29, 2009

Some very wise words about love

This is from Archbishop Fulton Sheen's book "The World's First Love," which is about Mary, the mother of Jesus. I thought this section was wonderful about the general topic of love, something that I think there is terrible aridity and misunderstanding about in these increasingly freak show modern times. So read this and think about it, especially you young people (hi again, with much affection) who are drowning in the previous generation's abandonment of genuine love.

Freedom is ours really to give away because of something we love. Everyone in the world who is free wants freedom first of all as a means: he wants freedom in order to give it away. Almost everyone actually gives freedom away. Some give their freedom of thinking away to public opinion, to moods, to fashions, and to the anonymity of "they say" and thus become the willing slaves of the passing hour. Others give their freedom to alcohol and to sex and thus experience in their lives the words of Scripture: "He who commits sin is the slave of sin." Others give up their freedom in love to another person. This is a higher form of surrender and is the sweet slavery of love of which Our Savior spoke: "My yoke is sweet and my burden light." The young man who courts a young woman is practically saying to her: "I want to be your slave all the days of my life, and that will be my highest and greatest freedom." The young woman courted might say to the young man: "You say you love me, but how do I know? Have you courted the other 458,623 young eligible ladies in this city?" If the young man knew his metaphysics and philosophy well, he would answer: "In a certain sense, yes, for by the mere fact that I love you, I reject them. The very love that makes me choose you also makes me spurn them-and that will be for life."

Love therefore is not only an affirmation; it is also a rejection. The mere fact that John loves Mary with his whole heart means that he does not love Ruth with any part of it. Every protestation of love is a limitation of a wrong kind of free love. Love, here, is the curbing of freedom understood as license, and yet it is the enjoyment of perfect freedom-for all that one wants in life is to love that person. True love always imposes restrictions on itself-for the sake of others-whether it be the saint who detaches himself from the world in order more readily to adhere to Christ or the husband who detaches himself from former acquaintances to belong more readily to the spouse of his choice. True love, by its nature, is uncompromising; it is the freeing of self from selfishness and egotism. Real love uses freedom to attach itself unchangeably to another. St. Augustine has said: "Love God, and then do whatever you please." By this he meant that if you love God, you will never do anything to wound Him. In married love, likewise, there is perfect freedom, and yet one limitation that preserves that love, and that is the refusal to hurt the beloved. There is no moment no sacred in freedom than that when the ability to love others is suspended and checked by the interest one has in the pledged one of his heart; there then arises a moment when one abandons the seizure and the capture for the pleasure of contemplating it and when the need to possess and devour disappears in the joy of seeing another live.

And an interesting insight into love is this-that, to just the extent that we reject love, we lose our gifts. No refugee from Russia sends a gift back to a dictator; God's gifts, too, are dependent on our love.

Fulton Sheen, 1952
(Note: hence his reference to the dictator of Russia which was in full out Communism at that time, which thankfully has changed since the 1990's. Still the analogy holds true: When one escapes from oppression, slavery or dictatorship, one does not send back a "thank you gift.")

I'll let you all mull this over, as it's one of the wisest things I've seen about love and you need no real commentary from me. Do, however, compare this to the "meat market" and "shopping for the hottest at the time" mentality that so many of the past two generations have, and realize that is real slavery, not freedom, per the Archbishop's explanation and analogy of dating and comparing one's choice to all the other young ladies in an entire city!