The Secret of True Love

By David Torkington

Many years ago when I used to run courses for school leavers, I used to begin by asking the boys and girls to tell me when they were last really happy. I remember one boy said that it was when he was fishing with his father, another when watching one of his favorite films, and yet another when he was playing football with his friends. One of the girls loved a day of retail therapy with her mother, another loved playing the piano, not for her exams, but for the sheer pleasure of it. Finally one girls said her happiest moments were spent on holiday with her boyfriend. Strangely enough it always used to take them a long time to see the common denominator – the reason why doing all these different things had given them all so much pleasure. For a greater or less period of time they had been so absorbed in something, or someone else, that they simply forgot about themselves. In the discussions that followed they usually came to the same conclusion, namely that, this happiness could be found and perpetuated more in loving someone else than in anything else.

In the first Christian centuries no one sought to live for themselves, but for God and for his honour and glory alone. All authentic prayer of whatever sort ends up here, as did the prayer of Jesus. That’s why the first Christians learnt to seek God not for what they could get out of him, but for himself alone. Seeking God for what you can get out of him was an unfortunate development that came later, thanks to the influence of Neoplatonism. However on occasions, but rarely, you do find expressions like ‘sober inebriation’ or ‘spiritual intoxication’ to express interior spiritual feelings that sometimes occurred while taking part in the liturgy or in prayer. You can find words like Apatheia or Ataraxia too, words borrowed from Stoicism. They are used to refer to the inner peace and tranquility experienced at the outset of contemplation. You find words like spiritual transportation too, as these inner states of repose become ever more intense and raise believers up and into experiences similar to those that St Teresa of Avila would later call the Spiritual Betrothals or the Mystical Marriage. However I have only mentioned them to make the point that they were only very rarely used – Why? Because the whole emphasis of early Christian spirituality was not on oneself, but on God, and on his good pleasure, not one’s own. The faithful did not seek out mystical experiences to give themselves pleasure, they sought out God to give him pleasure. Their whole aim and the whole object and direction of their spiritual life was not to seek their own honour and glory, but the honour and glory of God. It was in doing this that they, like any lover who lives for another, forgets themselves. Then, freed from self-absorption and the misery that this brings, they experienced the joy of living for another.

Read the original article here


About Brother Burrito

A sinner who hopes in God's Mercy, and who cannot stop smiling since realizing that Christ IS the Way , the Truth and the Life. Alleluia!
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14 Responses to The Secret of True Love

  1. toadspittle says:

    “Finally one girl said her happiest moments were spent on holiday with her boyfriend. “
    Now, why doesn’t that surprise any of us?
    Indeed, absorption is what it’s all about.
    “You can find words like Apatheia or Ataraxia too, words borrowed from Stoicism. “
    So you can.

    Not necessarily anything to do with God – though it could be, if you choose it to be.
    …Might equally be stamp collecting.
    Or music.
    Or dogs.

  2. ginnyfree says:

    For God alone. Says it all, yet so many things take us away from this state of mind that opens the door to the ultimate reality, doing all for God alone. That is a shorter way to holiness courtesy of St. Louis Marie De Montfort – to Jesus thru Mary. It is the secret to finding True Love – True Devotion. Well, it may not be for everyone, but it works well for this Catholic gal. God bless. GInnyfree.

  3. johnhenrycn says:

    Can I be radical and say there is no such thing as love coming from the human heart?

    God is love. 1 Jn. 4:8

    Let me repeat that, as did John a few lines further on:

    God is love. 1 Jn. 4:16

    Any love in our worthless bodies comes from outside us and only flows through us. When we say we love someone, we are mistaken. (When we say we love something, we are doubly mistaken, but that’s another issue). And the very second we think some thought, say some word, or do some act that is not thought/said/done with love, there is absolutely no love left in us, and won’t be again until we correct our attitude.

  4. johnhenrycn says:

    …”Oh!”…someone says: “I might have said something cruel to a store clerk today; that doesn’t mean I’ve stopped loving my wife and children.”

    Yes you have, or rather, you never did love your wife and children, and never will in this life.

    What we have for our spouses and children (and animals) is a healthy emotion called affection. Even wicked people can be affectionate. Herr Hitler (nb: Godwin’s Law) had deep affection for his dog (a bitch, actually), Blondi. But Love is something higher, purer and stronger than human emotion. The former is the life force of the universe – the latter, a mere stepping stone.

  5. geoffkiernan says:

    JH at 2342 I was about to comment but I feel you have redeemed yourself at 0038.

  6. johnhenrycn says:

    Thank you, Geoff. I appreciate your indulgence. You are antipodal to me, but still, I have serious affection for you, which is a start…

    …When I say antipodal, I don’t mean that in any crude historical or metaphorical sense, but rather in a fairly strict geometric one. You and I live on almost the exact opposite sides of the Earth – on a line driven through it a right angle – which people in England and Australia do not.
    I may be wrong. If I am, I will so acknowledge on April 6th.

  7. johnhenrycn says:

    …either latitudinally or longitudinally, Canada and Australia are closer to each other than either is to Mother England. Of course, Canada is the senior sibling, and will inherit under primogeniture.

  8. johnhenrycn says:

    “..erm… nooo…” sayeth Jabba: Canada is closer to England, either latitudinally or longitudinally, than it is to Australia, although Canada is closer to either than the other is 😉

    Oh, fugedaboutit…

  9. toadspittle says:

    I fact, it all depends ( as with everything) on what you mean by, in this case – love.
    I tell my wife I love her.
    ….JH tells his wife he has great affection for her.
    Err..that’s it.

  10. johnhenrycn says:

    ” I tell my wife I love her.”

    Your words of love for your fourth (or fifth – sorry, I sincerely can’t remember) wife are every bit as sweet as are mine for my only wife. In neither case, however, are our words more than healthy human affection. You say you love your wife. I say I love my wife. You are serious. I am serious. We are both serious. But neither of us are speaking truth when we say: “I love you”, because, as you know, human affection is a fickle thing. Your affections and mine change. Is love something that changes? Affections change to be sure – but love? Which wife do you love most? No, you do not love your wife. Like me, you say you do, but you don’t. God loves them. When your or my affections – or those of any person on this blog – begin to center on someone else than who we now say we love, God still loves the people we leave behind. So much for human love.

    You say: “…it all depends on what you mean by love.” Prince Charles said something like that before you did, and you should have used quotation marks.

  11. toadspittle says:

    So much for human love. Killed by JH, in God’s name. OK. Matter of opinion.
    Professor Joad said “it all depends on what you mean by.., etc,” long before Prince Charles said it, and people were saying The Lord’s Prayer before you, JH.
    So maybe you should use quotation marks when you say it, JH.

    As to this thing called love ….

  12. GC says:

    Mighty fine mosaic of the Transfiguration (in the Church of the Saviour on Blood, in St Petersburg?).

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