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Center for Action and Contemplation
Twentieth-Century Women Mystics
Twentieth-Century Women Mystics

Love Is the Only Solution

Friday, July 22, 2022

Father Richard’s Franciscan tradition prioritizes putting love into concrete action while drawing on Divine Love as our Source:

Love won’t be real or tested unless we somehow live close to the disadvantaged, who frankly teach us that we know very little about love. To be honest, my male Franciscan seminary training didn’t teach me how to love. It taught me how to obey and conform, but not how to love. I’m still trying every day to learn how to love. As we endeavor to put love into action, we realize that on our own, we are unable to obey Jesus’ command, “Love one another as I have loved you.” To love as Jesus loves, we must be connected to the Source of Love.

Over decades of serving New York City’s poorest individuals, Dorothy Day (1897–1980) never lost sight of the gospel’s challenging invitation to love:

Whenever I groan within myself and think how hard it is to keep writing about love in these times of tension and strife which may at any moment become for us all a time of terror, I think to myself “What else is the world interested in?” What else do we all want, each one of us, except to love and be loved, in our families, in our work, in all our relationships. God is Love. Love casts out fear. Even the most ardent revolutionist, seeking to change the world, to overturn the tables of the money changers, is trying to make a world where it is easier for people to love, to stand in that relationship to each other. We want with all our hearts to love, to be loved. . . . It is when we love the most intensely and most humanly that we can recognize how tepid is our love for others. The keenness and intensity of love brings with it suffering, of course, but joy too because it is a foretaste of heaven. . . . 

When you love people, you see all the good in them, all the Christ in them. God sees Christ, His Son, in us and loves us. And so we should see Christ in others, and nothing else, and love them. There can never be enough of it. There can never be enough thinking about it. St. John of the Cross said that where there was no love, put love and you would take out love. [1] The principle certainly works. [2] . . .

Love and ever more love is the only solution to every problem that comes up. If we love each other enough, we will bear with each other’s faults and burdens. If we love enough, we are going to light that fire in the hearts of others. And it is love that will burn out the sins and hatreds that sadden us. It is love that will make us want to do great things for each other. No sacrifice and no suffering will then seem too much. [3]

References:

[1] John of the Cross to María de la Encarnación, July 6, 1591, in The Collected Works of John of the Cross, trans, Kieran Kavanaugh and Otilio Rodriguez (Washington, DC: ICS Publications, 1979), 703.

[2] Dorothy Day, On Pilgrimage (New York: Catholic Worker Books, 1948), 52.

[3] Dorothy Day, House of Hospitality (Huntington, IN: Our Sunday Visitor, 2015), 267.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, Essential Teachings on Loveselected by Joelle Chase and Judy Traeger (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2018), 182–183.

Explore Further. . .

Image credit: Carrie Grace Littauer, Untitled 11 (detail), 2022, photograph, Colorado, used with permission. Arthur Allen, Untitled 4 (detail), 2022, photograph, France, used with permission. Claudia Retter, Florence Morning (detail), photograph, used with permission.  Jenna Keiper & Leslye Colvin, 2022, triptych art, United States. Click here to enlarge the image.

This week’s image appears in a form inspired by early Christian/Catholic triptych art: a threefold form that tells a unified story. 

Image inspiration: She sees the leaves in the ice, gathers the small, unnoticed things, and cherishes her findings. We accept the mystic’s invitation to sit and ponder.

Story from Our Community:

I see the self-emptying love of Jesus on display daily in the news reports from Ukraine; the woman who remains in danger in a besieged city because her elderly mother is unable to walk down the stairs of their apartment building; the people who escape to the border only to return to Ukraine to help others. And also in Poland, where they welcome the refugees with opens arms, in spite of the personal strain. Or in the people from European countries who travel to the train stations holding signs saying how many they can accommodate in their home and taking them in. I ask myself: what am I willing to do? —Jo S.

Share your own story with us.

Prayer for our community:

God, Lord of all creation, lover of life and of everything, please help us to love in our very small way what You love infinitely and everywhere. We thank You that we can offer just this one prayer and that will be more than enough,  because in reality every thing and every one is connected, and nothing stands alone. To pray for one part is really to pray for the whole, and so we do. Help us each day to stand for love, for healing, for the good, for the diverse unity of the Body of Christ and all creation, because we know this is what You desire: as Jesus prayed, that all may be one. We offer our prayer together with all the holy names of God, we offer our prayer together with Christ, our Lord, Amen.

Listen to the prayer.

 

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