THE SCHOOL OF LOVE
[continued from yesterday]
...Let us see....
If what has been said is sound, then the less my love has a thought for itself so much the more true it is.
It seeks not its own, it is not for mere pleasure that it loves; nor for the pleasurable consequences, unless it be the joy of its nature fulfilled, the joy of giving and of sacrifice.
Sweetness indeed may be there, and sweetness of such kind as alone deserves the name. But not on its account is love pursued; to pursue it for its sake is the throttling of love, making it a slave instead of a master, using it for some other end when it is itself the noblest and only end of all.
Is my love of this calibre?
Secondly, if my love does not stir me, or stirs me but a very little, less than many other motives which make their impress on me, then is it tending to die.
A stoic, ancient or modern, who boasts of being above emotion, who acts by his reason and that only, who prides himself on doing his duty, has triumphed over love, scotched it if he has not killed it; it is a gruesome triumph, the triumph of the polar ice over the underlying land.
Beauty there may be of a kind, beauty, and strength, and stillness; but life, and warmth, and growth, and fruitfulness there can be none.
But love stirs all the strings upon the human heart; sometimes, even, it sweeps its master-hand across them and stirs them all together so that the poor, dear, enviable human creature is all joy and all agony at once.
Because they are not its own, because they are the joys and the sorrows of others, they are multiplied beyond control, each beating up against the other, sometimes in harmony, sometimes in discord, but always throbbing with a sympathy that others instinctively detect; till at last the poor, loving heart does not know itself, does not know whether to call itself happy or distressed, tossed as it is upon the billows of emotion, torn by the cries, scorched by the tears, of all the creatures it loves, wonders at itself and its capacity for suffering, asks itself, trembling, whether after all it has chosen the right path, is consoled by nothing that others understand by consolation, and sees only death as its escape from the whirl and tangle of emotion.
To how many lives of loving saints is not this the key ?
Is it not the key to the Heart of Christ Himself, and to His agony in the garden?
Is it the key to my heart?...
From The School of Love and Other Essays
by The Most Reverend Alban Goodier, S.J.
Burns, Oates, & Washburn, Ltd. 1918