lesson from JP2 & Pope Francis: love vs. lust

Bl. JP2 always talked about how young men and women, to their very core (even if they didn’t know it!), really just want to find eternal happiness by giving a total “gift of self [themselves]” to one another…. to others… and most of all, to God.

In “Love and Responsibility,” Bl. JP2 talks about how the core of love is sacrifice. The core of love is giving, not taking! (Boy, the world’s media today’s got that one a little mixed up.) Moreover,  Bl. JP2 expounds upon how lust focuses on “what’s in it for me?” while love focuses on “how does this affect the other person?” (or God, or others, or both of you together).

In the same vein, I recently came across this “Made In His Image” image that says: “Love can’t wait to give. Lust can’t wait to get.” Exactly what Bl. JP2’s “Love and Responsibility” gets at!

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In great serendipity, I came across this quote by Mahatma Gandhi as well:

“There are seven things that will destroy us: Wealth without work; Pleasure without conscience; Knowledge without character; Religion without sacrifice; Politics without principle; Science without humanity; Business without ethics.”

What’s interesting is that, immediately after reading this, I equated “religion” with “Jesus” who IS Love (1 John 4:7-8). Therefore, without even thinking, I was translating it into this: There is no such thing as love without sacrifice. No such thing!

And lastly, in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel a few days later, while praying before the Lord Jesus in the Most Holy Eucharist, I conveniently flipped to this excerpt from the Book of Tobit in my Bible app:

When Sarah’s parents left the bedroom and closed the door behind them, Tobiah rose from bed and said to his wife, “My sister, come, let us pray and beg our Lord to grant us mercy and protection.” She got up, and they started to pray and beg that they might be protected. He began with these words:

“Blessed are you, O God of our ancestors;

blessed be your name forever and ever!

Let the heavens and all your creation bless you forever.a

You made Adam, and you made his wife Eve

to be his helper and support;

and from these two the human race has come.

You said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone;

let us make him a helper like himself.’

Now, not with lust,

but with fidelity I take this kinswoman as my wife.

Send down your mercy on me and on her,

and grant that we may grow old together.

Bless us with children.”

They said together, “Amen, amen!” Then they went to bed for the night.

“Not with lust…” I read the words and I pondered over them. The words brought me such joy, such light. This Tobit knew what would be the foundation for an everlasting marriage bond. Love. Not lust. Giving. Not taking.

So much in our life is about what we want– even the most holy and good things– and yet, if we desire those things in inordinate ways, in all honesty, we are lusting over them.

We should never place anything over Eternal Happiness. His name is Jesus.

Everlasting peace of soul is only to be had from Our LORD– the only One who can offer us anything eternal: solely HIMSELF. We were not made for anyone else, no matter how holy, nor anything else, no matter how noble and pure. Made in His Image, we were made for HIM.

No one creation can compare to the One who created us, the Creator.

It is only when we FIRST give ourselves to Him, and THEN give ourselves to others in His name, including our spouses or perhaps the Church or those we serve (if we are consecrated religious) that anything at all makes sense!

It is so, so, so very easy to fall into the trap of confusing seeking the good, holy, pure gifts of the Giver rather than the Giver Himself. Yet we must detach from everything and everyone but Him. We must even be detached from spouses and children, to an extent, if we are in the marriage vocation. (God shows this with Abraham and Isaac… and Job…. and Jesus, HIS Son, of course! We must be willing to forsake even  mother and father and sister and brother for Him.)

It is so, so, so very easy to have “ulterior motives” but not even really realize it. For instance, do we do good only because of the feelings that doing good begets? Or do we do it because we want to love and to give and to sacrifice, even when it hurts or does not feel good or feels futile, unfruitful, un-returned?

I know I have leaps and bounds to grow spiritually. The tweets of our new papa, Pope Francis, have really made me think twice recently about my intentions of my spirituality. The true core of my spirituality should be to love God first, always, in everything, and in everyone: to give, not to take; to love, not to lust.

no radio for Lent?: PURITY is God’s work, not mine!

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Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati was a young adult with a pure heart on fire for the LORD. He was truly a living tabernacle of JESUS in the middle of the world!

“Purify my heart
Let me be as gold
And precious silver

Purify my heart
Let me be as gold
Pure gold

Refiner’s Fire,
My heart’s one desire
Is to be holy
Set apart for You, Lord

I choose to be
Holy
Set apart for You, my Master,
Ready to do Your Will

Purify my heart
Cleanse me from within,
And make me holy

Purify my heart,
Cleanse me from my sin
Deep within”

–“Purify My Heart,” Brian Doerksen

Do I love others with a pure heart? How do my selfish intentions and how does my pride get in the way? Who cares about how others see me… when what really matters most is how God sees me?

Do I love God with a pure heart? Do I love myself with a pure heart… or do I simply want to make a god of myself and think highly of myself?

As I journey through Lent, the idea of purity of mind, heart, and body… has been on my, well, mind, heart, and body! (God designed us as truly integrated beings.)

This particular Lent, one of my sacrifices is not to listen to secular music or the radio. Instead, I am listening to either Christian/Catholic music or audiobooks.

Most of the songs on the radio are about romantic love, Eros (sexual desire), lust (disordered Eros), and incredible lows/highs. After just over a week of not listening to secular radio for a couple hours a day, I feel my mind focusing on higher ends, such as God’s love  and IDEAS that I have always wanted to ponder more deeply over!

I once heard a priest say that listening to a song on the radio is, in a sense, agreeing to let your emotions be influenced or controlled by whatever lyrics or melody you happen to hear. This priest’s “anti 24/7 entertainment” stance moved me.

I don’t want to simply experience life as a reaction to entertainment. I want to LIVE life as a journey that I venture! I do not want to be a product of society; I want to help shape society.

This Lent, I hope that my thoughts will gradually become more oriented towards the Divine. I hope that I will be more focused on living out my vocation as a disciple of Our Lord. I want to be centered on what is holy, noble, and pure… and most importantly, on Our Lord Who is Love.

Moreover, I increasingly realize that it is GOD who cleanses me from my worldly detachments and purifies me.

PURITY: not my work or power that is effecting the change within, but GOD’S work and power that cleanses me and makes me holy!

A living tabernacle, holding Jesus, in the middle of the world: now that’s what I want to be!

I pray that Our Lord keep the faith in me forever young.

On Deciding to Love

The culture I have grown up in has told me that love is a feeling. It just happens. You fall into it. Then you drop out of it. Love is a state of being. A noun.

But Jesus Christ, in His living and dying for me, teaches me that love is a decision. And more importantly, love is a verb. Love is something that you do.

According to Jesus, love is not something that you receive, fall into, or drop out of — all of which are out of your control. Love is something that you are always capable of freely doing.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church in paragraph #1766 defines love as a verb as well:

To love is to will the good of another.” All other affections have their source in this first movement of the human heart toward the good. Only the good can be loved. Passions “are evil if love is evil and good if it is good.

The Catholic Church has also taught me that love is Someone. It is Jesus Christ, He who lived and died for me! One of my favorite chapters in Scripture, 1 John 4:7-8, reads:

Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God, and he who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God; for God is love.

The culture that I live in has taught me to live for my own success: for my achievements and a prestigious career.

But my achievements and a prestigious career can only take me so far. How much recognition, wealth, and power will it take till I am finally satisfied, if those are the only things I live for?

The culture that I live in has taught me to make a significant other or a spouse, or even my parents or children, etc., the very center of my world and the core of my being.

But if I make those that I love the center of my world, how long will it be before I go crazy from realizing just how badly they can fail, because humans always fail– even the best of us? At times, I will fail those that I love quite miserably as well.

These very reasons are why my hope lies not in the culture of death before me but in the culture of LIFE. My hope lies in Jesus Christ, Love Himself! In Him and in His promise, I will never find disappointment, depression, or death, but only fulfillment, joy, and LIFE. Only He can fill my very center; only He can fill my core.

As a Catholic young adult in a world that increasingly shuns the Divine, I am excited and invigorated and ready! The Black Eyed Peas in their smash hit ask: “Where is the Love?” I want to shout it out to my generation: “Love is right here, in the Holy Eucharist! Jesus Christ is Love.”