The above may seem like the ditziest entry to have on a Catholic spirituality site, but my notion of love has come under a kind of assault recently by the notorious Anna Maria Luisa de’ Medici who has played such a key role in my tragic Loving Luisa posts. Careful: This woman might start hanging around monasteries for further victims.
I started to write another Loving Luisa post to add to that continuing opera but it makes me so at such odds with myself it was impossible to continue. So let me talk Bee Gees for a while. When I was seducing young women in the late 70s and 80s this song provided a musical backdrop. Now the way I love is so dramatically different but the passion this song invokes in me has never really changed. Nobody gets too much loving anymore. Not in this fallen world, even when I was getting my brain sexually drilled by 20 somethings I was never getting any love. And I never knew it, of course.
And now when I have moved beyond profane love, I thought I had met a perfect woman who actually fell in love with me first – who was genuinely sad when she thought she wouldn’t see me. It took me a week to figure out what she was experiencing. Sadness at not seeing me? What could it be? It had been so long since anyone had even looked at me with any sense of appreciation at all. And all I needed to do was focus on her. As long as all I had to do was concern myself with her well-being and good, the love flowed effortlessly back to me. I was so happy.
High as mountain and harder to climb? Not at all. And it fueled me with hope. I sensed for the first time that oft misunderstood line from St. Ireneus: “the glory of God is man fully alive.” It may have been profane love but I wasn’t committing any sin that Dante hadn’t trail blazed earlier. It was teaching me about divine love. Beatrice, Luisa, what’s the difference here? Hence all those Dante posts I dropped on you dear readers. My loves tend toward the wide screen.
The glory of God consists in the realization of this manifestation and communication of His goodness, for which the world was created. God made us “to be His sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will, to the praise of His glorious grace,”(Ephesians 1:5-6) for as St Irenaeus states; “the glory of God is man fully alive; moreover man’s life is the vision of god: if God’s revelation through creation has already obtained life for all the beings that dwell on earth, how much more will the Word’s manifestation of the Father obtain life for those who see God.” The ultimate purpose of creation is that God “who is the creator of all things may at last be all in all, thus simultaneously assuring His own glory and our beatitude.”(1 Corinthians 15: 28)
Paragraph 294, The Catechism
And to think my heart was being understood by an atheist added another dimension of understanding that was magnificently paradoxical – God’s practical joke on the Catholic Apologist Blogger.
“And if flows through me and it flows through you and I love you so much more. You’re my life.” That is the love of God. God does become your life. The way Luisa would become part of my life in a way. Not THE way but just “a” way.
“I can see beyond forever. Everything we are will never die. Loving is such a beautiful thing.” Our glory and his beatitude.
Sin means that those who see God must first pass through death, and it is likewise thus for those who persevere in true love, whether in the family or in the consecrated state. This is precisely the meaning of an ecclesial state of life. After the Fall, these can only be the practice of death — the leveraging of death into the death-like loss of self that is love.
The “death-like” character of love is found in the fact that what we finally desire in love is to give ourselves away. De Lubac has expressed this paradox by telling us that what we really desire in “beatitude” is to serve, in “vision” to adore, in “freedom” to be dependent, in “possession” to be in “ecstasy.” Like Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, Luisa had found herself a prize (“I don’t care if you don’t want me, I’m yours.”)
Love’s dangers, vulnerabilities, and sufferings point to something more primitive than sin, something just beyond the reach of our existence. There is a paradox, a certain necessary tension, in this death-like foundation for love…Man, created in the image of God and therefore possessing the mysterious depth and capacity, and therefore “desire,” for communion with God, is incapable of attaining from his own resources this one and final, and therefore in a real sense “only,” fulfillment. The only act that can yield this fulfillment is the act of reception. Ratzinger tells us that death therefore forces a choice. It is the choice between the disposition of loving trust and that of trying in futility to take life and death into our own power.
The above paragraphs were culled from a marvelous essay on The Gospel Of Life And The Integrity Of Death that David Crawford has in the current issue of Communio. In this case we are talking less about death as much as Luisa’s attempt to take our love into her own power, her lack of a loving trust.
It just makes me sad. I don’t understand why she doesn’t understand. Until she wipes away my tears, she will never get it.