The Measure of Love

“The measure of love is to love without measure…”

by megbski

“The measure of love”

The latest “soul lesson” for me can be encapsulated best by these cute measuring spoons received as the parting gift at a friend’s bridal shower, aptly called “The Measure of Love”. I have heard both St Augustine of Hippo and St Francis of Assisi credited with this quote:  “The measure of love is to love without measure.”

In either case, these two great leaders of the faith have agreed that true Christian love is loving unconditionally, and it requires something from us.

I give you a new commandment: love one another. AI have loved you, so you also should love one another. –John 13:34

What does this actually look like on a person?

In an every day human experience, I think it looks a little something like these cute measuring spoons: Laughter, love, kindness and patience.  Seems easy, but there is more to it, isn’t there? On a elemental level, being patient can be painful.  And when faced with someone who is angry, being kind can be downright heroic.  Let’s look to an expert then.

If I ask you to think of a biblical story where Christ is interacting with someone who desires healing from him, what is the first thing that jumps into your mind to describe his behavior?

MimiB

Crucifix statue in Medjugorje

When I reflect on this (with a few of the healing scriptures: the Samaritan woman begging for healing for her daughter; the woman at the well, the blind man, etc) the first idea that popped into my mind was “truth”.  Jesus usually first asked the people if they wanted to be healed, or why he should heal them.  He evoked faith from them, helping them to understand that this wasn’t magic; it requires something of our own efforts and will.  Then, he would often call for repentance.  He never justified bad behavior, or made excuses for people, but he called for us to turn from sin and get back in the fight for souls, proclaiming the good things that God had done for them.

When we really seek the truth of love, you will know it when you hear it.  It will be the harder thing to do when you have a tough decision to make, and the thing that will require an offering of our deepest selves to be given away: a self-sacrifice.  That is love.

Words of truth, spoken in love, break chains of lies off of souls that will hear them…

During our vacation last year we met up with our cousins in California.  We took all six kids to lunch at the Santa Monica pier, (their three girls and our three kids) and my cousin (the dad of the three girls) called all of the kids to attention and perhaps sensing he had only a moment to impart an important bit of wisdom said, “I need you all to hear me NOW.  NO ONE…OWES…YOU…ANYTHING. Remember that all of your life.  NO ONE…OWES YOU…ANYTHING”.

For a minute, everyone was silent.

We all heard the emphatic legacy of those words. It’s not that they were new words, it is that they were said with such deep conviction and you could feel the truth and love in them.  Like Jesus, my cousin was evoking a response to enact within ourselves the will to be the people of dignity God was calling them to become.  I know this because of the beautiful prayer he spoke over all of us before our meal, in the middle of the restaurant, with great fervor and reverence. I also knew that even though he was trying to impart an important message to combat the “entitlement philosophy” of this culture, words of truth, spoken in love, break chains of lies off of souls that will hear them.  

The moment he said it, something in my own heart was broken free.  I suddenly realized that the enemy had me believing that I should feel resentful at people who had “failed” me in my life, when in truth, no one had failed me.

Truth, love and humility Verses Pride, entitlement and offense

I shouldn’t have been looking at people for what they have and have not done for me.  In all humility, I should be looking to God, and to myself, in regards to making a constant act of my will toward Him.  Everything else falls in the realm of humanity, imperfect and broken; needing whatever witness I can give to the good God has done in my life, regardless of whether someone will receive it, or not.

I have found rooting out Pride in my own soul requires great vigilance.  I have heard it said that “lust is the widest path to hell, but pride is the deepest trench“.  Today, while  listening to a powerful witness talk by a dear friend, I was particularly struck by passing comments she made quoting a priest who says that the “theme song” in hell is “(I did it) MY WAY“.  Pride tells us we are always justified to be offended, to be in control of others and the way they respond to you, expecting more from them.

I could go on with all of the stories, sayings, and songs I have collected over the years to remind myself not to take the “Bait of Satan” (which is to be “offended”, a product of pride) but I think I will end with the greatest weapon in my arsenal against falling into these same old tricks of the enemy.  Other than the sacrament of confession and repenting the minute you figure out you have fallen for this trick once again, one can combat these lies of “accuser” by praying these two prayers, especially on your knees at the end of the day.

(Warning: if you have been ingesting a steady diet of new-age-feel-good spirituality this is going to taste bad to you…but the bottom line of this is “it’s not about me“…)

Litany of Humility

Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val (1865-1930),
Secretary of State for Pope Saint Pius X

O Jesus! meek and humble of heart, Hear me.
From
 the desire of being esteemed,
Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being loved…
From the desire of being extolled …
From the desire of being honored …
From the desire of being praised …
From the desire of being preferred to others…
From the desire of being consulted …
From the desire of being approved …
From the fear of being humiliated …
From
 the fear of being despised…
From the fear of suffering rebukes …
From the fear of being calumniated …
From the fear of being forgotten …
From the fear of being ridiculed …
From the fear of being wronged …
From the fear of being suspected …

That others may be loved more than I,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be esteemed more than I …
That, in the opinion of the world,
others may increase and I may decrease …
That others may be chosen and I set aside …
That others may be praised and I unnoticed …
That others may be preferred to me in everything…
That others may become holier than I,
 provided that I may become as holy as I should…

The second prayer which is a powerful weapon against pride is the act of contrition:

O my God,
I am heartily sorry for
having offended Thee,
and I detest all my sins,
because I dread the loss of heaven,
and the pains of hell;
but most of all because
they offend Thee, my God,
Who are all good and
deserving of all my love.
I firmly resolve,
with the help of Thy grace,
to confess my sins,
to do penance,
and to amend my life.
Amen.

The sin of Pride is so pervasive in this world that we have all been fooled into thinking that the virtue of humility is out-dated, insincere, or dead.  I am speaking this truth with great love; pride is dangerous and real.  If you read the litany of humility and it rubs your fur the wrong way, pay attention.  It’s not easy, and it’s not fun, but it’s a thermometer to where are hearts are living…in Christ or in ourselves.  I close this lecture to myself with a few of my favorite “team” members words to consider…

“Sacrifice without love is pain. Pain with love is sacrifice. Pain without love is misery. 

Love without pain is Heaven. Love with pain is Purgatory. Pain without love is hell.”

–Verenable Bishop Fulton Sheen

“Let us remember that love lives through sacrifice and is nourished by giving. Without sacrifice there is no love.” –Saint Maximillian Kolbe

Do not accept anything as love that lacks truth. –St. Edith Stein
Nothing conquers except truth, and the victory of truth is love. –St Augstine 

 

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