Love

Solidarity

It’s time to talk about racism.

Racism sucks. It’s absolutely unequivocally evil, and thinking about it makes me extremely angry. It also makes me painfully sad.

The tragic fact of the matter is that people are regularly killed for the colour of their skin. George Floyd is the latest name, but he is anything but alone in suffering this injustice. There is deep rooted cultural and systematic racism at work, and it needs to be tackled head on.

I wish that George Floyd’s death was shocking because it was unprecedented. I wish that this was an American problem and not a global problem. I wish that racism wasn’t real.

I am mixed race and have experienced racism, but, thank God, not to the level others I know have. A stranger at a train station shouted in my ear as he walked past “I think they should let all the jihadis in!” It’s fine that he thought I’m Muslim, but that he would call me a terrorist, that he would hate and fear me, fills me with rage years later. Don’t believe anyone who says Islamophobia isn’t racism. There have been other minor incidents too, but I’ll leave them.

When the police kill an innocent man, there must be a great cry of righteous indignation from all of society. If there is not, then your nation is already dead. When injustice doesn’t make you angry, you are no longer alive. Only Jesus can save you, resurrecting your anger. There is an anger which is holy, and this is it.

So we choose to join those crying out for justice. We choose to weep with those that weep. It’s our issue, because they’re our people, because all people are our people. ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’ We are one society, and your problems are mine, and my problems are yours.

So get angry and go, do what you can. Join a protest, raise your voice, educate yourself, see if there’s any hint of racism in yourself and root it out, donate to a charity that’s fighting the fight, call out prejudice, pray to God. Do what you can. Right now, this is what love looks like.

God bless you 🙏🏽

Loving the unknowable God

All good Catholic theology and philosophy acknowledge that God is beyond knowing. He is utterly beyond our understanding, and beyond every concept we could ever come up with. It is to the point that, according to St Thomas Aquinas, we don’t even know what it means when we say that God exists.

So then, how are we supposed to love the Lord with all our hearts, minds, souls and strength? How can we love what we cannot know? What would such a love even look like?

To love is to desire the good of the other. That is, it is to desire the good that the other themselves are, to desire them to exist more fully, to come into their perfection and fulness. It also includes the desire of this good for ourselves.

What can we know of God? We know God as He reveals Himself, firstly in creation, in which every creature reflects something of God; secondly in the inspired scriptures, in which we see God moving and hear God speaking throughout history; thirdly in His Son, Jesus Christ, the fulness of God’s self revelation and action in history. And yet, all of this revelation does not negate the truth that God is completely beyond our power to know. So what does all of this revelation even reveal?

It tells us that God is love. That creation is loved into being, and exists as a reflection of His boundless goodness. That He cares for us, and moves within our history. That He is totally with us, joined in our joys and sufferings, giving Himself to us entirely.

We cannot grasp what God is. In fact, God is not a what at all. We cannot grasp Him because He is perfect self emptying love, pouring Himself out through all of eternity. You try to grasp Him and He has already gone, already fully emptied. We only know that He is, because we see how He fills up everything else.

So what is it to love the unknowable God? It is to desire His love to be fully expressed and received, both within ourselves and within all of creation. It is to surrender ourselves to His love for us, and be immersed in and transformed into His indiscriminate love for us all.

God bless you!

Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us.

[1 John 4:7-12]

‘True love is its own satisfaction’

‘Love is a going forth of the soul, not a contract; it is not the result of a convention, and is not to be acquired by agreement; it is spontaneous in its impulses, and likens us to itself; also true love is its own satisfaction. Its recompense lies in the object of its love; for whatever be that which we seem to love, if our real object be something else, it is really that something which we love, and not that by which our heart strives to attain it.’
– St. Bernard (On the Love of God)

“My little method consists in this”

‘On a similar occasion she told me, “It fills me with joy to have been imperfect; today God has granted me great graces; it has been a profitable day indeed…”

‘When I asked how anyone could entertain such noble sentiments, she answered, “My little method consists in this–rejoicing always and continually smiling–in times of defeat as well as victory.”‘

-from My Sister, Saint Thérèse, by Sister Geneviève of the Holy Face (Celine Martin)

Happy Feast Day!

St Therese, pray for us

The Foolishness of the Cross

For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not in wisdom of speech, lest the cross of Christ should be made void. [1 Cor 1:17]

I’ve been meditating on this passage lately (and the rest of the chapter too). I consider myself a bit of a philosopher, so I have found this a little challenging. The cross cannot be made sense of by our philosophies. But in that case, how can we make sense of the cross?

We can’t. The cross cannot be made sense of, because it is pure revelation. It will make sense of everything else, but nothing will ever make sense of the cross. It is a new light, the Lumen Fidei, and nothing else can possibly illuminate this light brighter than light. It must be accepted or rejected in and of itself.

We know the great truth, that Jesus Christ died for love of us, and love of the Father, and for the Father’s love for us. And we could not possibly arrive at this if it were not given to us. That God would die for sinners is insanity, and nothing less. Divine love follows a logic that is illogical to the world.

Every attempt to explain the cross within a reasonable system will be a denial of the cross. All we can do allow the cross, the revelation of Love, to reveal itself to us, and everything else with it.

For this reason, Christians will always be aliens in the world. We will use a different logic. We will speak a foreign language – the language of the cross. Our lives will be upside down. If not, we are not Christians. We must be mad, just as our crucified God is madness itself, and the world will be astounded.

(drawing by St John of the Cross)

And time after time, we will see the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ revealed in our flesh.

God bless you!

God loves sinners

God loves sinners.

I think this is a lot easier to accept when the sinner in question isn’t myself. When I’m the sinner, I find it impossible to accept that God really loves me, and can’t help hiding from God and trying to earn my way back into His good graces. Which I also know I can’t do.

Basically, God has to batter me down with His tenderness, to accept His merciful love. It’s impossible for me, but not for Him. The most I can do is ask Him to do this.

When we sin, we are in a state of sin, and live by the logic of sin, which is entirely incapable of understanding God’s grace and mercy. We think God is like us, judging and measuring up and seeking to exploit his friends and crush his enemies. Like Adam and Eve, we hide from God, because love doesn’t make sense to us.

Somehow God breaks through. I am put in His presence, and His merciful love breaks me down. In fact, it crucifies me. The heart of stone is shattered, and I’m set free, made alive again.

But it’s not about becoming “righteous”… In fact, I think that when I’m no longer the sinner that’s being crucified by His merciful love, I’m back in the logic of sin, and will soon commit a sin that makes that clear. Christian holiness is God’s own life in an unworthy sinner, and once we’re “worthy”, we’ve kicked Him out.

Lord Jesus Christ, son of the living God, have mercy on me, a sinner. Amen

Madly in love with God

I’ve been thinking a bit about the Saints today, and how they were madly in love with God. Like how young men and women fall madly in love with each other, and do stupid, foolish, and very brave things for each other. Like all our better love stories.

Like Tolkien’s Beren and Luthien, this mad love gives extraordinary courage and strength, and moves the course of world history. It is ready to risk and sacrifice everything.

Saints like Francis, Clare, Mother Teresa, Rock, Benedict Joseph Labre, Peter Maurin, Dorothy Day, Maximilian Kolbe, Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, Anthony, Ignatius, Agnes, Cecilia, Augustine, Francis Xavier… and on and on, were just people who had fallen head over heels in love with the living God. Yes, they are heroes of our faith, but they are only heroes because they are lovers. However powerful ideals and honour and nobility may be, it is love and only love that is capable of the ultimate heroism.

But when I look at myself, I don’t think I can honestly say I’m in love with God. I love God, but I can’t say I’m in love with Him. Not yet.

I want to be though… I guess we call it falling in love because it’s out of our control. And I guess that the way people fall in love, is by giving in to the love they already have.

God bless you!

P.S. One thing I love, is that this idea that our religion is about falling in love with God Himself isn’t a modern sales pitch, but essential to the faith, running right throughout the Tradition, the New Testament, and back to the Old Testament, taking up the whole book of Song of Songs.

The Solution

I saw a book on tidying recently, and it set me thinking about how we keep seeking solutions to fix our lives, and answers to the mysteries of our lives. There are a lot of books like this today, and I suspect the genre must be growing. And of course, most of them will be very helpful. But they’re never enough. The problems and riddles remain, and we buy another book soon after.

I couldn’t help feeling the solution to it all should be incredibly simple. And it is.

It’s Jesus.

It’s the cross.

It’s love1.

Of course, problems remain. The cross won’t teach you how to tidy your house. But it does make the problems and riddles no longer of ultimate importance, and provide the way through them all. And it will lead you to find the solutions too.

So, there you have it. The secret to life. It is completely free, but will cost you everything. And it will also give back even more.

God bless you!


1But we only know what love is because of Jesus and the cross (1Jn3:16)