Our Lady and Sheen

“Love begins as a Duty” – Fulton Sheen

As I often say when it comes to love, “Sacrifice is the name of the game.” I’m sure that I heard it from someone very important and wise, and even if I didn’t, this would probably be the most “inspired” thing that I’d ever said. It’s hard to imagine this Agape (all you Greek loving folks, I’m sorry I don’t have the Greek font to use, please forgive me), after all “it was used only 10 times by Homer,” (Sheen, F. The Power of Love, 7). Our Christian duty is to be perfected as our Father is Perfect (Matt. 5:48), and God is Love, and God sent His only begotten Son into the world because he loved it (John 3:16). So what then are we supposed to do if we do not like the people that we are supposed to love?

I don’t like a lot of people. As my brother, Bernard would tell you, I love him. But for a period of time, I did not like him. It was an extremely disturbing time of my life because I was completely conflicted. In one lung I was angry, hurt, and felt betrayed. In the other lung I only wanted to be his friend and to love him. That dual nature is hard to reconcile within oneself and it contributed to a feeling that I was losing control in my life.

While we might not “like” someone, especially at first, we are called to love our neighbor. Our Lord was very clear when he described who our neighbor was, but of course it is hard for those of us on our knees to reach that level of Love that the Second Person of the Holy Trinity had. We ask for Grace, we ask for examples, and we ask for Love ourselves. But! This may be part of the Cross that you take up! The Cross of Our Divine Lord! Like the Cyrene we are called to take part in the Divine Mission. We are called to sacrifice united with The Sacrifice (Col. 1:24); and we are called to love, united with The Love. How can we call ourselves Christians, without lying, if we do not try to follow the teachings of Our Lord?

So how then are we supposed to “love,” if we do not even “like”? Venerable Fulton J. Sheen in “The Power of Love” tells us that, “When there is no spontaneous love, love begins only as a duty,”(p. 4) A “duty?!” That sounds awful! I hate working and grinding away, why would I want to take on another “duty” to continue to do things? Ven. Sheen continues, “But as we learn to write by writing, to cook by cooking, to be courteous by practising kindliness, so we learn to love by loving.”

Hmm… most of us enjoy eating, if not writing or being courteous. So, focusing there, I would say that if I were to desire to eat, I should learn to cook. Yes, I could go out to restaurants, or fast food joints, or perhaps just have my wife who would cook better than I; but in the meantime, what am I to do for food? I could eat richly, spending much money at “nice” restaurants; I hope all of you are monetarily endowed enough to do that. Perhaps that money would be better suited for the poor, it’s always a debate I have with myself.

I could also fill myself with “cheaper” fast food which I think we all will agree that sometimes it’s hard to pass up having things “your way, right away,” and who can resist “good mood food.” But, we run the risk of eating unhealthily, and that would not be good – again something I have to fight with myself often. It is much easier to write about things in the abstract than to actually struggle with them.

Finally, I could get married to a wonderful woman who loves to cook and never burns the roast. Additionally, she would mirror Our Lady in so many qualities that I would grow in holiness just from being around her. I should stop before I just start my “personal ad.”

As a bachelor, if I would like “good” food, relatively inexpensively I can learn to cook. At first I learned to cook very simple things, and now, 10 years later, I still cook very simple things! But I try to learn to cook other things, and sometimes I’m successful. Sometimes I just feel like I’ve accomplished something. Perhaps that is why I do it! Perhaps I enjoy dicing onions or tomatoes (I do); perhaps I like seeing cheese melt onto something (I do); and perhaps I like the idea that if I cook for someone I feel as though I have offered them a small act of love… which brings us back to “Do, a dear, a female…” I mean, it brings us back to “Love.”

We grow in our ability to do things by doing them. If I never inserted my Polish Language CD I would not be able to say, “Rozumiem trochę po polsku.” If I never asked my friend if I could help her make cupcakes, I’d never know how to make Key-lime filled merengue topped desserts!

This is why Ven. Sheen finishes his thought with, “The ‘I ought’ after a while passes to ‘I love.'”

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us!
Our Lady, Mother of Divine Grace, pray for us!
Venerable Archbishop Sheen, pray for us!

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March 5, 2013 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , ,

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