Lately I have been thinking a lot about, and experiencing a bit of, what it means to live in that all-encompassing love. I almost hate to try to write anything about it because I've read so much about it in my life, so many passages from the Saints that were beautiful, but effectively left me cold. It's obvious that most of the little epiphanies that we have in our spiritual lives are very personal and can't really be communicated to anyone else. Still, occasionally something that someone else has written serves as a sort of jumping off point for me, and so I write hoping that maybe this will be the case for someone else. Also, we build up a little treasury of head knowledge about our life of faith, and while it may lie dormant for a long time, sometimes Our Lord mines that little treasury for something, or a group of somethings to illuminate.
At the moment, the most brilliant gem in my little treasure box is the realization of the primacy of love. Of course, I know this, but I often don't realize it. There is a pendulum that is constantly swinging in the Church, and in our individual lives between the emphasis on this primacy of love and the importance of rules and right practice. You can't really swing too far in the direction of authentic love, but we often veer off into that insidious imitation of love that becomes mushy sentimentalism. When we realize the mistake we tend to try and correct it by rushing headlong toward the shelter that can be found in dotting all our i's and crossing all our t's, and generally being good girls and boys. And the rules are good, and right practice is good, in fact they are both great goods when they are in the service of love; however, we tend to veer off into a sort of practical orthodoxy that is grounded in fear, and pits us against our weaker brothers and sisters who lack our self-perceived perfection.
As in everything else, the answer doesn't come from separating these two goods but by bringing them together in their right relationship. The rules and right practice are foundational. They are important in the way a loom is important to the weaving of fabric. However, the really important thing is the fabric, and the material that we use to weave the fabric of our lives is the love that we have been given by the One Who teaches us our craft. When we make a mistake in that weaving, either because our loom is deficient in some way, or because we have made a tangled mess of the thread of love, He can use that mistake to make the fabric more beautiful than it would have been before. Occasionally, we have to adjust the loom, or mend a broken frame, but most of the time we need to be paying attention to the fabric because eventually, we are going to take that fabric off the loom, wrap it around ourselves and leave the loom behind.
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I started this post over a week ago, and I really wanted to post it on the feast day of St. Ignatius, but I just haven't had time to write. My daughter was here for a week and now my sister is in town helping with my mother who has been in rehab for the past three weeks. Mother is going home today, and I hope she gets to stay there for a while. She moved just over two months ago, and since then she has spent over 5 weeks in the hospital.
We have a lot of decisions to make concerning all areas of my mother's life, and a lot of matters that have to be addressed immediately. Please keep us in your prayers, both for wisdom to make the right decisions, and the stamina to be able to do all we need to do. Also, pray that we will be able to continue to be charitable to one another in our exhaustion.