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St. Thérèse gave me the secret to love, even if it seems like a loophole

Święta Teresa z Lisieux

Fr. Lawrence OP | Flickr | CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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Scarlett Rose Ford - published on 01/12/24

How do we, as human beings with a finite capacity to love, love the One who has an infinite capacity to love?

As I sat outside the campus library, I felt like I was part of a fall-themed snow globe: Orange leaves glittered as they descended with the wind, whirling around the people below before collecting in piles on the ground. Some human figurines sat in pairs on benches while others walked by, hand-in-mitten-covered-hand. When temperatures fall, love seems to be on the rise, and the age-old question once again occupies my mind: What is love?

As I people-watched, I grasped a well-loved copy of 33 Days to Merciful Love: A Do-It-Yourself Retreat in Preparation for Consecration to Divine Mercy. The book is based on St. Thérèse of Lisieux’s devotion to Divine Mercy, with a specific emphasis on her love for God and others. While the Angelic Doctor of the Church St. Thomas Aquinas provides us with a wonderful definition of love (“to will the good of the other”), St. Thérèse is the examplar of what this actually looks like, especially in regard to loving God. 

It was in 33 Days to Merciful Love that I found the answer to the question that philosophers, academics, and great thinkers of all ages have attempted to no avail: I discovered the secret to love.

Throughout my life, I’ve always stressed over the idea that I will never be able to love God enough; He is perfect and I am imperfect.

Even St. Thérèse — a Doctor of the Church and one of the greatest saints of the modern era — was imperfect, yet she found a resolution to this problem: She would ask God to pour out His love onto her so she could pour it back toward Him. 

My brows furrowed as I closed the book, Is that allowedIt seems like a bit of a loophole. I observed the autumnal scene around me as I pondered, watching couples actively fall in love with one another. If our imperfect, finite capacity to love is strong enough to create these human bonds, how much stronger is God’s perfect, infinite love? The more time I spent reflecting, the more it made sense: God deserves the best love, and whose love is better than His own? 

With this realization, I sighed a breath of relief with the wind, prompting another exodus of leaves from the trees. We don’t have to strive to impress God through our merits, for these will never be enough. The answer is much more simple: All we have to do is ask God to pour His love onto us so we may use His love to love Him. This is the secret to love. 

~

This is part of the series called “The Human Being Fully Alive” found here.

Tags:
Spiritual LifeTherese of Lisieux
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