Sunday, February 18, 2007

True Charity

"Charity is a right attitude of mind which prefers nothing to the knowledge of God. If a man possesses any strong attachment to the things of this earth, he cannot possess true charity. For anyone who really loves God prefers to know and experience God rather than his creatures. The whole set and longing of his mind is ever directed toward him."
St. Maximus the Confessor

Lent begins this Wednesday, Ash Wednesday. This has always been a joyful time for me, but admittedly it also comes with its own struggles. I don't enjoy fasting, or abstinence, or self-denial, or dealing with hidden sin. But I do enjoy what happens when I am faithful to do that. I enjoy drawing nearer to my God.

St. Maximus the Confessor really gets at the heart of the first great commandment as enumerated by our Lord: "Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, mind, and strength. Really, at the heart of all this religion is love. Love motivated God first to create, and then to redeem. Love compelled Christ to endure the cross for our salvation. Love leads us to respond to His love in faith. Love keeps us drawing nearer to God, increasing in holiness.

But how many of us experience a single-minded love? If you're like me, you love God, but you also have other loves. I am not now trying to dissect the love for spouse, parents, children, or our fellow man. I am simply saying that we have other loves. We have pet activities and hobbies. In themselves they are not evil. But where they have the effect of turning our gaze from our Lord, they are. It is like a man who is married, but still turns to look at other women. Obviously there is something lacking in his love for his wife. To acknowedge that another woman is attractive is no sin, but to gaze at her is.

So it is with us. We are to have a single-minded, and a single-hearted (if that's a word) devotion to our Lord Jesus Christ. As Lent draws near I am asking God to give me this single-minded devotion. I want to be complete in charity as St. Maximus points out. I am asking for an increase of His Grace and Love that I might love Him and serve Him more.


Blogger Joni said...

Lent is truly one of those times I have to say I don't look forward to, but know is so, so necessary.

My God give us a new "gaze" as we grow in His image throughout the coming 40 days.

Let us pray for one another through this time.

11:38 AM  

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