29 October 2009

God Loves You-Is that Important?

“God loves you”: How revolutionary and how life-changing is that truth to the task of coming to love and accept ourselves!

Self-esteem is necessary for all psychological health, and there is no absolutely sure basis for self-esteem other than the assurance of God’s love for me.

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Faith and love are the two things Christ most frequently calls for in the Gospels. How are they related?

In two ways. The most familiar one is that faith leads to love. Love is the practice of the faith. But the other way is also valid. Love can lead to faith.
I think most converts come to the faith in this second way, through the love of God…or of something. Father Zossima, in Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov, teaches a “woman of little faith” how she can regain her lost faith through this path. When she was a child she believe unthinkingly. She cannot go back to that. But in her adult life she learned all the alternative plausible explanations of the physical sciences, which seemed to make faith unnecessary and intellectually disreputable. If science can explain everything, is not the faith a mere myth? How can I know that when I come to die instead of meeting God there won’t just be “just the burdocks on my grave?”

Father Zossima answers, “There is no proving it. But you can be convinced of it.” How?

»Through the experience of active love. Strive to love your neighbor actively and indefatigably. Insofar as you advance in love you will grow surer of the reality of God and of the immortality of your soul. If you attain to perfect self-forgetfulness in the love of your neighbor, then you will believe without doubt, and no doubt can possibly enter your soul. This has been tried. This is certain. «
Love has eyes and once they are opened we will see our neighbor’s soul as a thing…that could not be replaced, not just in our feelings but in objective reality; that is, in God’s consciousness.
Love perceives the unique and incalculable value of each of the Father’s children. We see clearly that if there is no God, these souls have no Father, these images, no model, these sparks no originating fire, these sunbeams no sun. Thus love perceives both God and immortal souls.

[However] The whole argument depends on an insight, an understanding, which you have only when you love. That love must be agape. It cannot be the passive love of feelings but the active love of agape. It cannot be the “love in dreams” that is like a pillow but the “love in action” that is like God…

Peter Kreeft,
The God Who Loves You: ‘Love Divine, All Loves Excelling,’
2004, Ignatius Press, San Francisco