When Bill Haley and his comets introduced ‘Rock and Roll’ into this country in the 1950s the older generation were terrified at what was happening to the younger generation. While most parish priests were condemning the latest musical vandals from America and their revolutionary music, our parish priest was encouraging his youth club to revel in it, and he even invited imitation groups to entertain them.

Love, Love, Love is all you need

Although this made him the most popular parish priest we ever had, at least with the young, he alienated himself from others. Like most of the parish priests at the time he continually warned against mixed marriages when they thought that love was enough. I am afraid I was one of those who thought with the Beatles that love, love, love is all you need. But of course it all depends on what you mean by love. Although the Beatles thought they were more popular than Jesus Christ, his idea of love was far less superficial than theirs, far more exacting, far deeper, and therefore far more lasting. For Christ true love was demonstrated when you are prepared to give everything for those you love. When you do this the most exciting thing that you have ever experienced happens, you begin to receive their love in return.

Love without measure

That is why, when Jesus loved God without measure, he received God’s love in return without measure. This love not only filled him with happiness but everything else that God’s love brings with it too. That means with all the help and strength to love others with a quality of selflessness and self-sacrificial goodness that others feel impelled to return in kind.

When this sort of other-considering love is given and given repeatedly to that other special person who love has inspired us to marry, then we are open to enjoy the mutual loving that will overflow onto and into our families. It is this loving that makes the human family on earth the finite sign and exemplification of the infinite divine family that is in heaven, which is our final destiny. That is why it was above all else the main and magnetic force that drew and inspired those who belonged to   ancient pagan religions to join the new Christian religion. For it was here that they could see and experience the love that animated Christian families that they too wished to animate their families too.

A lesson from the Desert Fathers

It is for this reason that Christ called upon all who would follow him to do what he did every moment of every day of his life. Namely, to observe the first and most important of God’s commandments, to love God with your whole heart and mind, with your whole body and soul and with your whole strength. In order to do this and receive his love in return they were taught how they must be emptied of all other loves and desires that would prevent them from receiving his love in return. One of the desert fathers once told his followers that if they wished to draw sufficient water from the well they would have to empty their buckets from everything else.  In the same way they were told that their hearts would have to be emptied of all other loves and desires if their hearts were to be filled with the love of Christ that would enable them to be united with his Father through him.

 A Mystical Heart that is forever loving God.

That is why the two years preparation that all would-be Christians had to undergo for baptism was filled with prayer, penance and good works. This preparatory ascetism would enable them to be better prepared to be taken up into Christ’s mystical body when they were baptised. However, that would not be the end, but the beginning of their journey into God. For within his mystical body this daily ascetism must continue in order to be united, not only with his mystical body, but also with his mystical heart that is forever loving God. The more the two hearts become one then the more they act together, pray together, love together, and the more perfectly can they share in Christ’s own contemplation of his Father.

Who converted the Roman Empire?

It was in studying the spirituality of the early Church that I gradually came to understand my Parish Priest’s point of view. Of course it would be wrong to dismiss ‘mixed marriages’ out of hand. However, if Catholic families had taught their children how to practise the self-denial, the self-sacrifice, and the daily prayer that would open them to the love of God, then what they gave and what they received in their spiritual lives would guarantee that they had a far greater chance of living life-long loving marriages. And if both the married couples had the same spiritual upbringing then this chance would be far further advanced. This would enable these families to become in today’s world what they were in the ancient world when they were the main dynamic force that converted a pagan Empire into a Christian Empire and in such a short time.

With love all things are possible.

I am at one with all other writers, columnists and critics who rightly draw our attention to the unprecedented moral mess in which our world and our Church is entangled, and many of the solutions that they believe are necessary to remedy them. However I am concentrating on what is needed for them to be achieved. For without the transformation of hearts that Christ came to bring, we will never be able to realise the noble ideals we want to accomplish.  Prayer is the word used to describe what we must do to open our hearts to the only One who can transform and animate them with love.  Once again therefore may I introduce you to the personal prayer taught for generations by saints and mystics from the beginning that I have collected for you in podcast form on my website. For with the prayer that opens us to the love of God all things are possible that are quite impossible without it.

In order to develop the sort of prayer that can continually help us to raise our hearts and minds to God as we practise the asceticism of the heart please visit my web-site and follow the Podcast on prayer entitled The Hermit – Wisdom from the Western Isles

David Torkington’s blogs, books, lectures and podcasts can be found at  https://www.davidtorkington.com/

 

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