Father Cantalamessa on the Duty to Love
Pontifical Household Preacher Comments on This Sunday's Gospel
ROME, MAY 20, 2006 (Zenit) - Here is a translation of a commentary by Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa on this Sunday's Gospel reading. He is the preacher to the Pontifical Household.
* * *
To "Have" to Love
"This is my commandment: That you love one another as I have loved you. ... What I command you is that you love one another."
Love is a commandment? Can love be made a commandment without destroying it? What relationship can there be between love and duty, given that one represents spontaneity and the other obligation?
We must know that two types of commandments exist. There is a commandment or obligation that comes from outside, from a will other than my own, and a commandment or obligation that comes from within, which is born from the thing itself. The stone thrown into the air or the apple that falls from the tree is "obliged" to fall, it cannot do anything else, not because it is imposed on it, but because there is an inner force of gravity that attracts it to the center of the earth.
In the same way, there are two great ways according to which man can be induced to do or not do something: by constriction or by attraction. The law and ordinary commandments induce him the first way: by constriction, with the threat of punishment. Love induces him the second way: by attraction, by an interior impulse.
Each one, in fact, is attracted by what he loves, without suffering any constriction from outside. Show a child a toy and you will see him try to take it. Who pushes him? No one, he is attracted by the object of his desire. Show a good to a soul thirsting for truth and it will go out to it. Who pushes it? No one; it is attracted by its desire.
But if it is so -- that is, that we are spontaneously attracted by goodness and truth which is God, what need is there, one might ask, to make this love a commandment and a duty? The fact is that we are surrounded by other goods and run the risk of missing the target, of tending to false goods and thus losing the supreme good.
As a spaceship going to the sun must follow certain rules so as not to fall into the sphere of gravity of an intermediary planet or satellite, the same is true for us in our tending to God. The Commandments, beginning with "the first and greatest of all," which is to love God, serves this purpose.
All this has a direct impact on human life and also on human love. There are increasingly numerous young people who reject the institution of marriage and choose so-called free love, or simply living together. Marriage is an institution; once contracted, it obliges one to be faithful and to love one's partner for life. But, what need is there to transform love, which is instinct, spontaneity, vital impulse, into a duty?
The philosopher Soren Kierkegaard gives a convincing answer: "Only when there is a duty to love, is love guaranteed forever against any alteration; eternally liberated in happy independence; assured in eternal bliss against all despair."
He means: The man who truly loves, wants to love forever. Love needs to have eternity as its horizon; otherwise it is no more than a game, a "kind misunderstanding" or a "dangerous pastime."
That is why, the more intensely we love, the more we perceive with anguish the danger in loving, a danger that does not come from others, but from ourselves. We know that love is variable, and that tomorrow, alas, we might get tired and not love any more. And, now that we are in love, we see with clarity the irreparable loss that that would imply, and here we take the precaution of "binding" ourselves to love forever.
Duty removes love from variability and anchors it in eternity. One who loves is happy to "have" to love; it seems to him to be the most beautiful and liberating commandment in the world.
https://www.catholic.org CA, US
Catholic Online - Publisher, 661 869-1000
Cantalamessa, Love, Gospel
More Catholic PRWire
Showing 1 - 50 of 4,718
A Recession Antidote
Monaco & The Vatican: Monaco's Grace Kelly Exhibit to Rome--A Review of Monegasque-Holy See Diplomatic History
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.
A Royal Betrayal: Catholic Monaco Liberalizes Abortion
Dna. Maria St.Catherine De Grace Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.
Embrace every moment as sacred time
Mary Regina Morrell
Letting go is simple wisdom with divine potential
Mary Regina Morrell
Father Lombardi's Address on Catholic Media
Pope's Words to Pontifical Latin American College
Prelate: Genetics Needs a Conscience
State Aid for Catholic Schools: Help or Hindrance?
Scorsese Planning Movie on Japanese Martyrs
2 Nuns Kidnapped in Kenya Set Free
Holy See-Israel Negotiation Moves Forward
Franchising to Evangelize
Catholics Decry Anti-Christianity in Israel
Pope and Gordon Brown Meet About Development Aid
Pontiff Backs Latin America's Continental Mission
Cardinal Warns Against Anti-Catholic Education
Three words to a deeper faith
Relections for Lent 2009
Wisdom lies beyond the surface of life
Mary Regina Morrell
World Food Program Director on Lent
Pope's Lenten Message for 2009
Keeping a Lid on Permissiveness
Glimpse of Me
The 3 stages of life
Sex and the Married Woman
A Catholic Woman Returns to the Church
Modernity & Morality
Just a Minute
Catholic identity ... triumphant reemergence!
Edging God Out
Burying a St. Joseph Statue
George Bush Speaks on Papal Visit
Sometimes moving forward means moving the canoe
Mary Regina Morrell
Easter... A Way of Life
Papal initiative...peace and harmony!
Proclaim the mysteries of the Resurrection!
Jerusalem Patriarch's Easter Message
Good Friday Sermon of Father Cantalamessa
Papal Address at the End of the Way of the Cross
Cardinal Zen's Meditations for Via Crucis
Interview With Vatican Aide on Jewish-Catholic Relations
Pope Benedict XVI On the Easter Triduum
by Catholic Online
- St. Zita: Saint of the Day for Friday, April 27, 2018
- Herdsmen kill 19, including two priests in Nigeria
- Are we under attack? Pope Francis declares battle and praises ...
- Come Holy Spirit HD Video
- Pope Francis praises exorcisms while declaring Christian life a ...
- Atheism promoting demonic possession
- Daily Readings for Friday, April 27, 2018
- Daily Reading for Saturday, April 28th, 2018 HD
- Little Miracle: Young boy dubbed 'super-human' after receiving life-saving operation HD
- St. Francis Prayer HD
- Prayer To St Michael For Personal Protection HD
Learn about Catholic world
Inform - Inspire - Ignite
Catholic Online Saints
Your saints explained
Catholic Online Prayers
Prayers for every need
Catholic Online Bible
Complete bible online
Catholic Online News
Your news Catholic eye
Today's bible reading
Products and services we offer
Catholic Online Shopping
Catholic medals, gifts & books
The California Network
Inspiring streaming service
Learn the Catholic way
Teacher lesson plans & resources
Support Free Education
Tax deductible support Free education