Thursday, February 28, 2013

Missing the point and recovering it

THIS is a common enough phenomenon. In any transaction, in any
communication, there are many elements that get lost. Speakers can
speak badly, and listeners can also listen badly, for example. Between
one and the other, many things escape our attention.

Besides, there are non-tangible items and considerations and other
imponderables that just cannot be articulated in the instruments like
contracts and other forms of agreement we use to define the relations
among ourselves.

Very often, our responses and reactions to events can be impertinent.
We can miss the point in many instances. Remember that episode when
Christ announced to his disciples that he was going to be arrested,
tried and crucified, and then rise on the third day? (cfr Mt 20,17-28)

His followers did not understand what he was saying, and they were
afraid or ashamed to ask questions. Instead, a mother of two of the
apostles made a silly request—that her sons would sit beside him in
the glory of heaven.

Yet, in spite of this lamentable predicament, Christ salvaged the many
small good items that came up along the way to adapt his message to
his listeners’ needs and conditions.

When the two apostles gamely answered, “We can,” to his query if they
were also willing to drink the cup that he was about to drink, that is
to say, to suffer the way he would suffer, he was happy, and proceeded
to tell what they needed to do instead.

And that was none other than just to serve. Let’s go through that
beautiful part again. “You know that among the pagans the rulers lord
it over them, and their great men make their authority felt,” he said.

“This is not to happen among you. No, anyone who wants to be great
among you must be your servant, and anyone who wants to be first among
you must be your slave, just as the Son of Man came not to be served
but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mt

It seems Christ wants to tell us that while we can miss many things
that he wants to tell us, we can somehow make up and recover his
precious messages and their nuances if we just trust and love him,
showing this in deeds by serving, for loving and serving are two words
that describe one reality.

Loving by serving puts us into a loop that goes beyond what our senses
can perceive and what our mind can discern. We may not be able to feel
anything, nor understand things, but by loving through serving others,
we would already be effectively not only getting the point but also
living the message God wants us to know and live.

This is a point that we need to chew on well. While we always want to
understand and even to feel what we ought to know and do, we should
try not to be too dependent on our understanding and feelings and just
proceed to loving God through serving others.

This is precisely the very heart of loving. It is an act done in pure
gratuity and goodness, without expecting any reward or privilege or
recompense. We do it because we just want to do it, no ifs nor buts,
no other reason than that we just want to do it.

If we can only convince ourselves of the wisdom of this message that
Christ is telling us, then we would truly simplify our life, fill
ourselves with joy and peace irrespective of whether the conditions
and circumstances are favorable or not, advantageous or not.

With this mindset, we would extricate ourselves from the constricting
grip of our intelligence and feelings. Of course, our intelligence is
oriented toward the infinite. Let’s just make sure that we don’t allow
it to be dominated and led precisely by feelings and other earthly and
temporal values.

We need to engage our intelligence, our mind and heart with the source
of infinite goodness and love that is God himself who tells us what to
do through Christ. We need to see this very important connection.

Besides, we need to see how Christ continues to act on us through the
Church which he founded, endowing it with the proper powers so that it
can truly and integrally continue Christ’s work on us throughout time.

If we see this picture well and try to conform ourselves to it, then
we would be on the way to recover what may be lost because of our
human frailties.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

We are all hypocrites

OK, let’s take it easy. What I mean is that in spite of our best
efforts, we continue to be haunted by our tendency to say one thing
yet do another. It’s a predicament we all are subject to. Hypocrisy
and deception can become very attractive to us because they offer us
some instant if false relief or convenience or advantage.

Sometimes there are good reasons for playing a game similar to
hypocrisy. That’s when we need to be discreet, tactful and prudent.
This would not be hypocrisy. In other cases, it is simply malice and
pure deception that we are playing. The latter is what we should try
to avoid.

Christ’s injunction to his disciples to do and observe all things the
scribes and Pharisees were saying, but not to follow their example,
because they preach but they do not practice what they preach (cfr Mt
23,1-2), continues to be effective up to now.

We need to exert continuing effort to avoid falling into this
predicament. But, of course, given our weakened and wounded human
condition, we cannot deny that sometimes, and even many times, we can
fall into the ways of the scribes and Pharisees.

    Just the same, we can still get God’s good graces by doing the first
part of the injunction, that is, to continue teaching and preaching
the good news even if our behavior is not yet at par to what we are

    As long as we striving to close the gap between our words and our
deeds, I suppose things would just be all right. After all, no matter
how much we try, things can always be better. There’s no such state of
perfection in this life, in our thoughts, words and deeds that cannot
be improved further. So, let’s just be game.

    Otherwise, we would all be saints here in this life, since there
would be no more sin if we say things cannot be improved anymore. But
the immediate, very obvious reality tells us otherwise. What is
important is that we just try our best to conform our actions to our
words and intentions, and our intentions conformed to God’s will.

    This is what is called consistency or integrity or unity of life, a
goal that we have pursue everyday, making the relevant plans that
consider our usual problems and difficulties in this regard and the
means we need to precisely reach that goal.

    We need to remember that for us to be able to do this, we need to be
with God, to have a certain intimacy with him where we can truly have
a heart-to-heart conversation with him. That’s when we can manage to
be sincere and authentic.

    Let’s remember that truthfulness is always a matter of having a
relation with God, because God in the first place is the Truth
himself, the creator of the universe and therefore of reality itself.
We can never be truthful just by ourselves, that is, without God, no
matter how much we profess to be honest.

    Especially in some difficult situations, when we are strongly tempted
to twists facts and tell lies, it is important to be firmly convinced
that it is better to abandon ourselves in the hands of God and tell
the truth, no matter what it costs.

Obviously, this abandoning ourselves in the hands of God to tell the
truth should also go hand in hand with the requirements of tact and
discretion, integral parts of charity. But we also have to make sure
that our sense of tact and discretion is not actually a cover for
cowardice and infidelity.

It always pays to trust in God even as we do everything we can to be
truthful. One anecdote that highlights this doctrine is about a father
whose child was born with a heart condition.

The doctors told him his son would not survive within the year if the
baby would not be operated on. And even the operation could only give
a 50-50 chance of survival.

The father was in crisis. Poor and the bill would run to almost half a
million pesos, he tried his best to look for the amount, but in the
end, could not raise it. He just told the doctor he was abandoning the
baby in the hands of God. He instead prayed and prayed.

I asked him what happened to the baby. The man said, “Father, my son
is now 21 years old. He is not quite healthy, but he manages to study
and do some work. He has never been a burden to us.”

Sunday, February 24, 2013

From gloom to bloom

THERE’S, of course, as aspect of gloom to Lent. That’s
understandable, since the season reminds us of our sinfulness, our
weaknesses and temptations, and the need to struggle, to be patient,
to suffer, etc.

    But it’s a gloom that leads us to the bloom of Easter, the suffering
that purifies and strengthens us, giving us another rebirth and making
us grow to Christian maturity where love and goodness prevail.

    We should look at things from a higher point of view, from a wider
perspective that gives due consideration to the inputs of faith and
the eternal truths, etc., to be able to get a better picture.

The victory of Christ’s resurrection, celebrated on Easter, gives full
meaning to the suffering of Christ’s cross that we are asked to share.
Our problem is the usual tendency to see things externally and
superficially only, and to give knee-jerk reactions to events. We fail
to connect the two.

    The road from gloom to bloom, from Lent to Easter, from darkness to
light, from death to life, has been built for us by Christ through his
words and deeds, through his whole redemptive life here on earth that
was filled with precious lessons for us.

    This road has been perfected, has been given the finishing touches
and polish with his passion, death and resurrection that comprise what
is now known as the Paschal or Easter mystery.

    It’s the mystery that summarizes the whole redemptive work of Christ
and is applied to us through the sacraments, especially the sacrament
of the Holy Eucharist. This is, of course, a truth of faith that we
accept not because we understand it, but more because it is taught to
us by Christ, who cannot deceive nor be deceived by us.
    This sacrament, seen under its three aspects as spiritual food (Holy
Communion), supreme sacrifice (Holy Mass), and divine presence
(Blessed Sacrament), makes this Paschal mystery present, and not only
remembered in the usual manner we understand by the word, remember.

    We need to work out our thinking, attitudes and feelings so as to
capture this wonderful reality that we often take for granted. That’s
why, we need to pray, meditate, study, develop the appropriate
virtues, fight against our weaknesses and temptations, etc.

    But one sacrament with its corresponding and underlying virtue that
is indispensable for this effort is the sacrament of penance or
reconciliation. It enables us to be born again, to regain our state of
grace after we have lost it through sin.

    The sacrament presumes and always requires the virtue of penance
which is none other than the abiding acknowledgement of our sinfulness
and the urge to go back to Christ by way of acts of penance, the
highest form of which is by availing of the sacrament of penance or

    Especially these days when the sense of sin is slowly being eroded by
all sorts of anti-Christian if not anti-human ideologies with their
corresponding lifestyles, we need to bring to the fore the importance
of both the virtue and the sacrament of penance.

    Of course, to recover the proper understanding and attitude toward
penance, we need to go back to Christ, to have faith, to be simple and
humble enough to realize that Christ is the fullness of the revelation
of God who is our creator and everything to us.

    Only through him would we know what is sin and what is not. Without
him, we will just be guided by our natural self that, as we already
know, is quite wounded and handicapped by sin itself. Its estimation
of what is good and evil is at best tentative and many times confused
if not wrong.

    To recover the proper understanding and attitude toward penance, we
need to heed the teaching of the Church that has been endowed by
Christ with the full authority to keep and transmit the deposit of
faith in its integrity infallibly.

    The virtue of penance also involves the need for self-denial,
restraint and moderation in the use of things, especially those that
give us the utmost comfort and pleasure, like food, drinks, fun, and
other sensual delights, especially the direct use of our human

    It is in this area that we should try to be most generous in
abstaining and fasting, because they go a long way in building up our
proper understanding of penance. Let’s remember what Christ said: “For
the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to
you.” (Lk 6,38)

Thursday, February 21, 2013

New heart, new creation

ONE objective of Lent is to prepare us for our new creation in Christ.
Yes, we need to be made new, that is, to emerge from our state of
sinfulness and weakness, so as to become “alter Christus,” another
Christ, if not “ipse Christus,” Christ himself.

Christ, the second person of the Blessed Trinity who became man to be
the way, truth and life to us, is the very pattern and substance of
our humanity. Remember that we have been made in the image and
likeness of God, and adopted children of his.

To have a new heart, to be a new creation is the ideal we should
strive to pursue. It requires both God’s action, which is always done,
and our correspondence, which depends on how we use our freedom.

Thus, we hear God saying, “My son, give me your heart.” (Prov 23,26)
It’s moving to hear God begging of us to give what is most precious to
us, our heart. He does this because he does not impose himself on us.
He respects our freedom, which is actually his gift to us, making us
precisely his image and likeness.

And on our part, we should not be afraid to give it, knowing that what
seems a loss to us by giving our heart to God would actually be a
tremendous gain. Christ spoke much about this self-giving that
actually enriches us rather than impoverishing us.

So, our attitude should sound like what is expressed in Psalm 50.
“Create in me a new heart, O Lord.” If we really know who we are or
how we stand before God who is everything to us, I suppose we cannot
ask him in a tone other than this. We also need to beg him, to
importune him, even if we know that as a good Father, he always gives.

This is simply the language of love into which we have to enter if we
want to develop a relationship with God. What all this leads to is
that we need to take care of our heart. We need to protect it and keep
it always new with the newness that can only come from Christ, our
savior and perfecter.

First, we need to be aware of the true nature and proper character of
our heart. Nowadays, many caricatures are made of it, trivializing and
distorting it along childish and frivolous categories.

The Catechism defines and describes our heart as “the seat of moral
personality,” “the dwelling-place where I am, where I live,” “our
hidden center, beyond the grasp of our reason and of others; only the
Spirit of God can fathom the human heart and know it fully,” “the
place of decision, deeper than our psychic drives,” etc.

Finally, the Catechism describes our heart as “the place of encounter,
because as image of God we live in relation—it is the place of
covenant.” In short, it is where we meet God, where we hear his voice
and get to know his will.

Obviously, this ideal definition and description of our heart is often
marred by our own weaknesses and sins. We often ignore our heart, if
not trample over it to allow the impulses of our wounded flesh and the
sinful world to dominate us. And so, we make a wreck out of our own

Thus, the need to purify and strengthen our heart. One of the
beatitudes precisely talks about this. “Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they shall see God.” And the Catechism comments: “Pure in heart’
refers to those who have attuned their intellects and wills to the
demands of God’s holiness.”

This is what we should be more aware of. How are we thinking, how are
we using our will, how are we desiring, liking and loving? What
usually happens is that we allow our mind and heart to just go
anywhere they like or anywhere our wounded human condition directs

We often forget that we need to anchor and engage them with God
always, whatever we may be thinking, planning, saying or doing. The
effort to do that is what precisely would give us a new heart, making
ourselves a new creation in Christ, the only mediator between God and

We need to leave behind our poor albeit falsely brilliant ideas of how
our heart should be, or of how we can be forever youthful. We need to
be with Christ to have the new heart, making ourselves a new creation
that is imperishable, undefiled and unfading.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013


IT’S important that we know exactly what to do in Lent which is a very
special season in the liturgical year. It is supposed to identify us
more closely with Christ who, as our redeemer and perfecter of our
humanity, shows us precisely how to face the many trials and
challenges in our life.

Among them are the temptations that we cannot avoid. Christ himself
already warned us about this. “Woe to the world because of
temptations. For it must be that temptations come.” (Mt 18,7)

Of course, if we think a little, we will readily realize why it is so.
Our spiritual faculties of intelligence and will, which enable us to
know the truth and to choose the good, have been darkened and weakened
by sin.

Though not completely detached from the source of truth and goodness
which is God, they are in a badly handicapped condition that need to
be cured, healed, rehabbed, or at least purified and strengthened.

Thus, we now have what is called concupiscence, which is a certain
attraction toward evil. St. John in his first letter distinguishes
this concupiscence into concupiscence of the flesh, concupiscence of
the eyes, and the pride of life. (cf 2,16)

We start to feel this concupiscence when we begin to use our reason
and will, because that’s when we can think we can be by ourselves,
instead of being always with God and with others, which is the ideal
way we ought to live our life.

That’s why it is important that at their very tender age, children
should be taught to train their mind and heart to engage God in love,
and because of that love, to be engaged also with everybody else.
Otherwise, the children can harden in their self-centered attitudes as
they grow to adulthood.

Aside from our wounded human nature with its concupiscence, the other
sources of temptations are the world and the devil himself. The world,
which originally was good because it also has been created by God, has
unfortunately absorbed the evil effects of our sinfulness, and so it
can exercise an evil influence over us.

The devil, of course, was originally a good angel created by God also
to be like him, with intelligence and will superior to ours since they
are pure spirits,  but who at the beginning of his existence abused
those gifts and chose to be by himself, making God his enemy.

He is a most powerful enemy that we have to contend with. St. Paul
warns us about this: “Our wrestling is not against flesh and blood,
but against the principalities, and the powers, against the
world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of
wickedness on high.” (Eph 6,11-12)

And we can easily delude ourselves by rationalizing that we can take
all the temptations, even to the extent of falling into the Napoleonic
complex of thinking only ordinary people obey laws, while the
extraordinary people have the right to transgress laws with impunity.

But we should remain calm and optimistic when tempted, since
temptations can usher great benefits to us. They point to us where we
are weak at, as well as what precious treasures we have since the
devil is provoked to tempt us. We usually are not aware of these
aspects of life until we are tempted.

Temptations also can occasion the urge to get closer to God,
developing more virtues and increasing our intimacy with him. In his
letter, St. James tells us, “Count it all joy when you shall fall into
diverse temptations, knowing that the trying of your faith works
patience...that you may be perfect and entire, failing in nothing.”

In other words, temptations can purify and strengthen us, and give us
an opportunity to grow in our spiritual life, in our love for God, and
in gaining more merits for our struggles, etc. Besides, we are assured
that with his grace God does not allow us to be tempted beyond our
capacity to resist.

St. Paul tells us that: “God is faithful, who will not suffer you to
be tempted above that which you are able, but will make also with
temptation issue, that you may be able to bear it.” (1 Cor 10,13)

The secret is to meditate on the example of how Christ dealt with his
own temptation. Consider the argument of St. Augustine: “If in Christ
we have been tempted, in him we overcame the devil. Do you think only
of Christ’s temptations and fail to think of his victory?

“See yourself as tempted in him, and see yourself as victorious in him.”

Friday, February 15, 2013

Cultivate hunger for God

THIS is what fasting and abstinence seek to accomplish, practices we
are encouraged to do during the season of Lent. It is to deprive
ourselves of what gives us the usual and most bodily pleasure so that
we can develop a certain hunger for God.

These practices are meant to provoke a spiritual hunger for God, a
hunger that does not come biologically. It’s a hunger that needs to be
cultivated, and it is hoped that the physical hunger effected by these
practices can trigger this spiritual hunger.

We therefore have to understand that these Lenten practices, rather
than just some Church precepts that we have to fulfill, have a basic
and indispensable inner component that should not be covered up by
mere external fulfillment of these practices.

We have to make sure that the self-denial involved in these practices
is done by our heart and will and not just by their physical and
material performance. We need to train our heart and will to
experience that hunger for God by linking that spiritual hunger with
our physical and material hunger.

This means that we need to align our mind and heart to the truths of
faith, before they get dominated by the impulses of the flesh and
other worldly factors and conditionings. This is a crucial operation
that we need to do in life. This is when we conform to the objective
truth about ourselves. This is when we are truly sincere.

Thus, in one prayer of the Mass during Lent, we ask: “Show gracious
favor, O Lord, we pray, to the works of penance we have begun, that we
may have strength to accomplish with sincerity the bodily observances
we undertake.”

These Lenten practices therefore bring to the fore the disconnect
between our spiritual self and our bodily self, a disconnect that they
try to bridge. That is why, Lent, rather than just a dull period of
self-denial, should be a most exciting and thrilling season when we do
some urgent repair job and strengthening exercises for ourselves.

This is the Good News about fasting and abstinence that we have to
welcome as eagerly and warmly as possible. That’s because these
practices actually contribute to the revitalization of our spiritual
life that never dies even as our bodily organism will unavoidably
disintegrate one day to be resurrected at the end of time.

It’s important that we see this truth about fasting and abstinence
because very often this truth is glossed over or buried under the
waves and waves of physical, material and sensual titillations of our

In fact, we need to spread this truth around, presenting it in ways
easily understandable to all kinds of people, young and old alike, to
save us from an ignorance and error that can be fatal to
us—spiritually fatal, that is.

We need to overcome our lack of sensitivity to God and to the things
of God, doing this also with naturalness, without making strange
actuations that can distort the truth about our need for God and the
spiritual and supernatural realities that we are meant to live in.

Thus, in the school I suggested to the kids who, of course, are not
yet obliged to do fasting and abstinence that, after explaining the
concept of fasting and abstinence, they can start doing these acts of
penance by delaying a little their play time after classes.

Kids, of course, love to play. They go to it like ducklings to water.
It’s automatic for them. But precisely by teaching them to delay it a
little and to spend a few moments of prayer in the chapel, they start
getting the idea. Obviously, they need to be followed up, prompting
them what to think, say and do in the chapel.

They actually get things quickly, and that’s why it’s important that
kids, as early as when they can start understanding things, be taught
and given example of how to have hunger for God. Otherwise, the bodily
urges dominate and blind them to the practical reality of God.

Obviously, everyone has to do what is appropriate to him in terms of
acts of penance. There is always hope. Even a person already hardened
in the ways of the world can still be touched by grace if he also
makes an attempt to do some fasting and abstinence properly.

If this Good News about fasting and abstinence is spread and
assimilated, for sure we will be seeing in the future many men and
women who will be at home both with God and with the world.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Freeing the senses

WE need to be more aware of our duty to take care of our senses. We
need to educate them, train them according to what is truly good for
human dignity. We just cannot allow them to move and behave by

Yes, our eyes, ears, nose and our sense of touch and the accompanying
feelings, emotions and passions, plus the imagination and memory that
they create, need to be put on the right track. They need to be reined
in, rather than left to follow their immediate, raw and unprocessed
impulses and urges.

In theory, they need to be attached and directed by our higher
faculties of intelligence and will, and even by a more fundamental
principle which is none other than the theological virtues of faith,
hope and charity, that connect us to our ultimate origin and goal,

In practice, however, this is hardly the case. Most of the time,
people just follow what to their thinking “comes naturally.” That is
to say, precisely just what their senses and feelings tell them to
think, desire, speak and do.

This is like letting barbarians to lead the development of
civilization. If ever there is some growth and improvement of culture
attained in this way, it is purely by accident and at a very great
cost, a Pyrrhic victory that involves more losses than gains.

Educating and reining in our senses and feelings in no way means
enslaving them or taking away their freedom, much less violating their
nature. It only means freeing them of their usual error to be on their
own when they in fact need to be guided and directed.

Educating and reining in our senses and feelings, including our
imagination and memory, means purifying them of their usual
limitations that can easily invite errors and deformations, and
empowering them to serve the true good of man.

When this happens, the senses and feelings and their accompanying
components actually enjoy a sublime, exquisite joy and sense of
beauty, a lot more, in fact, incomparably more than the stolen and
illicit pleasure one can derive when he just lets his senses be by

When this happens, the senses and feelings actually sing and dance,
completely unburdened by any load of concern even as they continue to
be mindful of the reality of things that surely include negative
elements. But they would know how to deal with them, living a certain
kind detachment and abandonment so indispensable in our life.

Unfortunately this sublime joy and beauty experienced when the senses
relish their true freedom, and not the bogus one, is hardly known by
many people nowadays. It will take some massive and heroic effort to
reverse and correct the situation.

That’s why great attention has to be given in forming the young
children in the right use of their senses, feelings, imagination and
memory. It is necessary that this aspect be taken care of, since these
elements enter into the building up of their character that more or
less, defines their whole life.

How truly nice it would be if the children grow up remaining childlike
in their character even as they get exposed to more and more things in
life—challenges, trials, failures, successes, etc.—and knowing how to
deal with them as a child.

I suppose this is part of the aim of education. It’s paradoxical, of
course, to associate being like a child with human and Christian
maturity. But that’s just how the cookie crumbles.

Christ himself teaches us as much. “Be wise as serpents and simple as
doves.” (Mt 10,16) The reference to doves can easily be the image for
a childlike character. More significantly, Christ says: ‘Unless you be
converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the
kingdom of heaven.” (Mt 18,3)

We have to understand that growing up does not necessarily meaning
leaving behind our childhood. In like manner, becoming an adult with
the accompanying accumulation of knowledge and experience if not
wisdom does not necessarily mean we have to be all serious and discard
the use of the senses and feelings.

While it’s true that there is a distinction between a child and an
adult, and between our senses and our intellect and will, we need to
understand that these pairs need to be blended in some mutual relation
that works for the true good of our humanity as defined by natural law
and ultimately by our faith in God.

We have to overcome the dichotomy between the two elements. We have to
work toward truly freeing our senses to let them serve our authentic

Monday, February 11, 2013

How to fall in love

FALLING in love is certainly not only a pastime, nor a sideline, nor
a fling. It’s the main thing, the main course in life. It’s our


All of us need to fall in love, because without love, life would have
no meaning, no purpose, no lasting and eternal effect. Without love,
life would fail to fulfill the deepest yearning of our heart. Without
love everything falls flat.


Though in practice we always love one way or another—even if our
loving is defective—we have to realize also that we need to fall in
love properly, understanding such love as going beyond the dynamics of
the emotions and passions that at best are just transitory.


For sure, love should not just be an outlet of some hormonal surges
that can get stirred by what we see, smell, touch, taste or like.
Neither should it be just a function of some psychological and
temperamental conditionings and other socio-cultural factors.


How then should we fall in love properly? By understanding love,
first of all, as a gift from God that we need to receive and
correspond. Love comes from God. It can only be lived and developed in
him, and never outside of him.


Let’s stop deluding ourselves by thinking that we can generate love
by ourselves. We can only love when we receive first the gift of love
from others.


These others can be, from a chronological point of view, first, our
parents, then our siblings, relatives and friends, etc. Only then can
we learn how to love others. But viewed from a bigger perspective of
love in its ultimate dimensions, we actually receive love first, in
the absolute sense, from God.


It is God who loves us first. That’s why in his first letter, St.
John said: “In this is charity—not as though we had loved God, but
because he has first loved us, and sent his Son to be a propitiation
for our sins.” (4,10)


We have to understand that we need to tackle love first of all in its
theological sense before it is considered from other valid but
incomplete and imperfect viewpoints. That would be putting love in its
proper framework and context.

That’s usually our problem. Many of us are still allergic to seeing
things in life in a theological way, allowing faith to shed light on
what our senses can discern and on what our intelligence can


To fall in love properly therefore entails going to God first. That
is why we need to learn to pray, to enter into a very personal and
intimate relationship with him, and this usually takes place first of
all in our mind and heart, in our thoughts and desires.


We need to see to it that these basic human operations are anchored
on God and are inspired by his love for us, that is, his care for us,
the truth that he teaches us, his way of doing things that gives us an
idea of how our virtues ought to be developed.


Definitely, we need to do some disciplining and controlling of our
thoughts, imagination, feelings, etc. We just should not allow them to
go on their own without the guidance of faith and the drive of charity
that comes from God.


Indeed, a lot of training is needed here, if not, continuing struggle
and combat, since we cannot deny the fact that we are beset with
weakness and a certain attraction to evil, if not outright malice.


Besides, temptations are all around us. Loving therefore involves
suffering, a certain measure of pain, anguish, tension. These should
not dampen our spirits. We should rather consider them as elements
that add fun and excitement and suspense in our life.


The liturgical season of Lent is a good occasion to go deeper in the
skills of spiritual combat and what is known as ascetical struggle,
aside from the fact that it is meant mainly to arouse in us the spirit
of penance.


This spirit of penance is also as aspect of true love. Where there is
love, the desire to make up for our past mistakes, falls, offenses,
etc., also would come naturally to us. And yet this desire for penance
is done in joy and peace, knowing that it is precisely out of love
that we do it.


Proper loving, while it is also abiding, is never showy. Neither does
it engender in us the mentality or feelings of a victim. Loving is the
assertion of freedom. We do things because we want to.