Friday, March 15, 2013

The Simplicity of Catholicism

Catholicism, contrary to what most people believe, is not a complex faith full of laws to memorize and rules to remember and restrictions to follow.  There are those things, but those are all designed to help and support the one who follows Christ in his effort to become one who Loves.  God is love, and so if all you do you do for love then you have done all for God - and this is the simple summary of the Catholic faith.

Love is one thing, but it has three facets to it each that are distinctive in their characteristics and which call man forward to different things.  There is love as passion, as desire, as this consuming fire which both draws us in and then transforms us and makes us a new creation altogether.  That is the Holy Spirit.  If you've ever been in love, if you've ever been so passionate about something or someone that it was literally all you could think about and all you wanted to talk about and you didn't even feel the need for anything except to feast on that person or that something - you have a glimpse of what the Holy Spirit is like.  However, if that kind of love never unites with the other two kinds, it becomes obsession, unhealthy, leading to death and destruction.

The second nature of love is its self-sacrificial facet.  It's the willingness of a man to die protecting the woman he loves, the woman to give up her life for the sake of her child, the child to sacrifice something he desires for the sake of a friend or to help his family.  It is a complete emptying of the self in order to sustain and support the needs of the other.  It is noble and heroic and beautiful to witness but without the other two kinds of love.  This kind of love inspires the very best in the hearts of human beings.  This kind of love is Jesus Christ.  However, without the other two kinds of love it becomes manipulative and self-serving, doing harm rather than good.  

The third nature of love is its unconditional facet.  It is eternal, unchanging, operating without regard to feeling or emotion, pursuing a relationship with others simply because they are and not because of what they can do for us or because of their behave.  This face of love is seen among parents in regards to their children, in spouses when caring for a spouse during moments of debilitating sickness and heartrending sorrows, and in the very best kinds of friendships and sibling relationships.  This face of love is God the Father, whose unconditional love does not change no matter what we have done.  Without the other two kinds of love, though, this kind of love can become detached and impersonal, generic rather than specific.

This is why we, as Catholics, refer to a trinitarian God despite our assertion that we believe in one God.  We believe in Love, which is unified in purpose and nature and yet can present different facets depending upon the circumstances.  We do all things for Love, that in all things we might do them for God.

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