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Reflections: Catholic Life Section (Love/Charity)

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Reflections: 

Catholic Life Section:

Love / Charity

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Love / Charity

 

Category
Quotation

Love / Charity

Also See: Love / Charity (Topic Page)

"One of the scribes, when he came forward and heard them disputing and saw how well he had answered them, asked him, 'Which is the first of all the commandments?' Jesus replied, 'The first is this: 'Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these." (Mk. 12:28-31)

"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same? So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect." (Our Lord Jesus Christ, Mt. 5:43-48)

"I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." (Our Lord Jesus Christ, Jn. 13:34-35)

"If you love me, you will keep my commandments." (Our Lord Jesus Christ, Jn. 14:15)

"Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me. And whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him." (Our Lord Jesus Christ, Jn. 14:21)

"If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and remain in his love." (Our Lord Jesus Christ, Jn. 15:10)

"This is my commandment: love one another as I love you." (Our Lord Jesus Christ, Jn. 15:12)

"No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends." (Our Lord Jesus Christ, Jn. 15:13)

"Owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments, 'You shall not commit adultery; you shall not kill; you shall not steal; you shall not covet,' and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this saying, (namely) 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' Love does no evil to the neighbor; hence, love is the fulfillment of the law." (St. Paul, Rom. 13:8-10)

"Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God. Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love. In this way the love of God was revealed to us: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might have life through him. In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also must love one another. No one has ever seen God. Yet, if we love one another, God remains in us, and his love is brought to perfection in us." (1 Jn. 4:7-12)

"God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him." (1 Jn. 4:16)

"If anyone says, 'I love God', but hates his brother, he is a liar; for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. This is the commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother." (1 Jn. 4:20-21)

"In this way we know that we love the children of God when we love God and obey his commandments. For the love of God is this, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome, for whoever is begotten by God conquers the world. And the victory that conquers the world is our faith." (1 Jn. 5:2-4)

"For this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, as you heard from the beginning, in which you should walk." (2 Jn. 1:6)

"If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, (love) is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. If there are prophecies, they will be brought to nothing; if tongues, they will cease; if knowledge, it will be brought to nothing. For we know partially and we prophesy partially, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I used to talk as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I put aside childish things. At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. At present I know partially; then I shall know fully, as I am fully known. So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love." (1 Cor. 13:1-13)

"Heaven is the land of love..." (Gueranger)

"True charity means returning good for evil - always." (St. Mary Mazzarello)

"[L]ove is proved by deeds." (Pope St. Gregory the Great, Doctor of the Church)

"[N]othing incites another more to love you than that you love him first." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church)

"[L]ove is felt more keenly when we lack what we love." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church)

"[N]othing moves us to love more than knowing that we are loved." (Pontifical Council for the Family)

"[L]ove makes light and nothing of things that seem arduous and beyond our power" (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church)

"The dignity of resembling the Almighty is common to all men; we should then love them all as ourselves, as living images of the Deity." (St. Francis de Sales, Doctor of the Church)

"[I]t is more proper to charity to wish to love than to wish to be loved." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"And by the fact that anyone loves another, he wills good to that other." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"[E]very moral sin is contrary to charity" (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"[L]ove is felt more keenly in the absence of the object loved" (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Therefore charity is quite impossible without faith and hope." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"[C]harity is destroyed by every moral sin." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"[C]harity is reckoned the foremost of the virtues" (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"[T]o love a person is to wish that person good." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"[C]hief among the effects of charity is the work of almsgiving" (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Though charity is love, yet love is not always charity." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"For what use is it when you give as much of your wealth as someone might give a spoonful of water from the ocean, and you don't imitate the widow's generosity of spirit?" (St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church)

"The spirit of Christian charity lives not within you, if you lament the body from which the soul has departed, but lament not the soul from which God has departed." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church)

"[A] mother, whose love is the greatest, seeks rather to love than to be loved" (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

Error CONDEMNED by Pope Innocent XI: "We are not bound to love our neighbor by an internal and formal act" (This proposition was condemned by Pope Innocent XI, 1679 A.D.)

Error CONDEMNED by Pope Innocent XI: "We can satisfy the precept of loving neighbor by external acts only." (This proposition was condemned by Pope Innocent XI, 1679 A.D.)

"Charity is said to be the end of other virtues, because it directs all other virtues to its own end." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"If you should suffer some disadvantage in helping a needy neighbor, reflect how much you will differ from your Lord, who gave his life and blood to help you." (St. Robert Bellarmine, Doctor of the Church)

"But who loves man is as who loves God; for man is God's image, wherein God is loved, as a King is honored in his statue. For this cause this commandment is said to be like the first (Mt. 22:39)." [Pseudo Chrys (as quoted by St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church)]

"What is the mark of love for your neighbor? Not to seek what is for your own benefit, but what is for the benefit of the one loved, both in body and in soul." (St. Basil the Great, Doctor of the Church)

"Though we do not have our Lord with us in bodily presence, we have our neighbor; who, for the ends of love and loving service, is as good as our Lord Himself." (St. Teresa of Avila, Doctor of the Church)

"Christ made love the stairway that would enable all Christians to climb to heaven. Hold fast to it, therefore, in all sincerity, give one another practical proof of it, and by your progress, make your ascent together." (St. Fulgence of Ruspe, c. 6th Century A.D.)

"All God wants is our heart. God is more pleased when we value our uselessness and weakness out of love and reverence for the Lord's will than when we do some violence to ourselves and perform great works of penance." (St. Jane Frances de Chantal)

"A man's love for his friends is sometimes less meritorious in so far as he loves them for their sake, so as to fall short of the true reason for the friendship of charity, which is God." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Have a great love for those who contradict and fail to love you, for in this way love is begotten in a heart that has no love. God so acts with us, for he loves us that we might love by means of the very love he bears toward us." (St. John of the Cross, Doctor of the Church)

"It is possible, accordingly, to judge how perfect is one's love for one's neighbor by considering what a man gives up for the love of his neighbor." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Those works which we perform in regard to the need of our neighbors, cannot be everlasting, any more than their need; but if we do not do them from love, there is no righteousness; if we do them from love, that love is everlasting, and an everlasting reward is in store for it." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church)

"Passing over the miracles, which they were to perform, He makes love the distinguishing mark of His followers; 'By this shall all men know that you are My disciples' if you have love for one another' (Jn. 13:35). This it is that evidences the saint or the disciple, as He calls him." (St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church)

"The reason why we love our neighbor is God, since that which we love in our neighbor through charity is God alone. Wherefore the charity with which we love God is the same as that with which we love our neighbor." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Perfect love is that by which we are ordered to love the Lord with our whole heart, our whole soul and our whole strength, and our neighbor as ourselves. Neither of these [kinds of] love is capable of being perfect without the other, because God cannot be loved apart from our neighbor, nor our neighbor apart from God." (St. Bede the Venerable, Doctor of the Church)

"But if even yourself you ought not to love for your own sake, but because of Him in whom is the rightful end of your love, let not another man be displeased that you love even him for God's sake. Whoever then rightly loves his neighbor, ought to endeavor with him that he also with his whole heart love God." (St. Isidore of Seville, Doctor of the Church)

"Love is a sweet word, but sweeter the deed. To be always speaking of it, is not in our power: for we have many things to do, and divers businesses draw us different ways, so that our tongue has not leisure to be always speaking of love: as indeed our tongue could have nothing better to do. But though we may not always be speaking of it, we may always keep it." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church)

"Should it happen that, in a fit of passion, you have insulted a neighbor, charity requires that you use every means to allay his wounded feelings, and to remove from his heart all sentiments of rancor towards you. The best means for making reparation for the violation of charity, is to humble yourself to the person whom you have offended." (St. Alphonsus Liguori, Doctor of the Church)

"It is certainly most lamentable, Venerable Brethren, that there have been, nay, that even now there are men who, although professing to be Catholics, are almost completely unmindful of that sublime law of justice and charity that binds us not only to render to everyone what is his but to succor brothers in need as Christ the Lord Himself" (Pope Pius XI, "Quadragesimo Anno", 1931)

"The waters of the most bitter afflictions cannot quench the fire of his charity toward us, so ardent is it. Even the persecutions of his enemies were not powerful enough to vanquish the incomparable solidity and constancy of the love with which he loved us. Such ought to be our love for the neighbor: firm, ardent, solid, and persevering." (St. Francis de Sales, Doctor of the Church)

"[T]he love of one's friends is not meritorious in God's sight when we love them merely because they are our friends: and this would seem to be the case when we love our friends in such a way that we love not our enemies. On the other hand the love of our friends is meritorious, if we love them for God's sake, and not merely because they are our friends." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Humility and charity are the master chords that all other virtues depend upon. The one is the lowest, the other the highest. The preservation of the entire edifice depends on the foundation and the roof. If the heart keeps itself directed in the exercise of these, no difficulty will be encountered in the others. These are the mothers of virtue, the others follow them as the chicks do their mother." [St. Pio of Pietrelcina (Padre Pio)]

"While at prayer, I begged our Lord to make known to me by what means I could satisfy the desire that I had to love him. He gave me to understand, that one cannot better show one's love for him than by loving one's neighbor for love of him; and that I must work for the salvation of others, forgetting my own interest in order to espouse those of my neighbor, both in my prayers and in all the good I might be able to do by the mercy of God." (St. Margaret Mary Alacoque)

"[C]harity does not actually increase through every act of charity, but each act of charity disposes to an increase of charity, in so far as one act of charity makes man more ready to act again according to charity, and this readiness increasing, man breaks out into an act of more fervent love, and strives to advance in charity, and then his charity increases actually." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Be sure, too, to show to your neighbor the same love which God has shown towards you. If you are harsh to others, you will find God harsh to you... He will pardon you many crimes for the one offense you forgive your neighbor; he will be long-suffering with you in return for a little prudence shown towards others; he will reward you with abundant riches for the small alms you bestow. Strive earnestly, therefore, to keep the law of charity, for that is your life." (St. John of Avila) 

"From one and the same love, we love God and our neighbor, but God for His own sake, our neighbor for God's. So that, there being two precepts of love, on which hang all the Law and the Prophets, to love God, and to love our neighbor, Scripture often unites them into one precept. For if a man love God, it follows that he does what God commands, and if so, that he loves his neighbor, God having commanded this. Wherefore He proceeds: You are My friends, if you do whatsoever I command you." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church)

"One's obligation to love a person is proportionate to the gravity of the sin one commits in acting against that love. Now it is a more grievous sin to act against the love of certain neighbors, than against the love of others. Hence the commandment (Lev. 10:9), 'He that curseth his father or mother, dying let him die,' which does not apply to those who cursed others than the above. Therefore we ought to love some neighbors more than others." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"But when all our Lord's sacred discourses are full of His commandments, why does He give this special commandment respecting love, if it is not that every commandment teaches love, and all precepts are one? Love and love only is the fulfillment of every thing that is enjoined. As all the boughs of a tree proceed from one root, so all the virtues are produced form one love: nor has the branch, i.e. the good work, any life, except it abide in the root of love." (St. Gregory of Nazianzus, Doctor of the Church)

"True charity consists in bearing with all the defects of our neighbor, in not being surprised at his failings, and in being edified by his least virtues; Charity must not remain shut up in the depths of the heart, for no man lighteth a candle and putteth it under a bushel, but upon a candlestick, that it may shine to all that are in the house' (Mt. 5:15). It seems to me that this candle represents the Charity which ought to enlighten and make joyful, not only those who are dearest to me, but all who are in the house." (St. Therese of Lisieux, Doctor of the Church)

"Where then love is, what can be wanting? Where it is not, what can profit? But this love is distinguished from men's love to each other as men, by adding, 'As I have loved you' (Jn. 15:12). To what end did Christ love us, but that we should reign with Him? Let us therefore so love one another, as that our love be different from that of other men; who do not love one another, to the end that God may be loved, because they do not really love at all. They who love one another for the sake of having God within them, they truly love one another." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church)

"But since the Divine substance is more excellent and higher than our nature, the command to love God is distinct from that to love our neighbor. But if by yourself, you understand your whole self, that is both your soul and your body, and in like manner of your neighbor, there is no sort of things to be loved omitted in these commands. The love of God goes first, and the rule thereof is so set out to us as to make all other loves center in that, so that nothing seems said of loving yourself. But then follows, You shall love your neighbor as yourself, so that love of yourself is not omitted." (St. Isidore of Seville, Doctor of the Church)

"The highest, the only proof of love, is to love our adversary; as did the Truth Himself, who while He suffered on the cross, showed His love for His persecutors: Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do (Lk. 23:34). Of which love the consummation is given in the next words 'Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.' Our Lord came to die for His enemies, but He says that He is going to lay down His life for His friends, to show us that by loving, we are able to gain over our enemies, so that they who persecute us are by anticipation our friends." (St. Gregory of Nazianzus, Doctor of the Church)

"Since there are two commandments, the love of God and the love of our neighbor, on which hang the Law and the Prophets, not without reason does Scripture put one for both; sometimes the love of God; as in that, We know that all things work together for good to them that love God; and sometimes the love of our neighbor; as in that, All the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself'. And that because if a man love his neighbor, it follows therefrom that he loves God also; for it is the selfsame affection by which we love God, and by which we love our neighbor, save that we love God for Himself, but ourselves and our neighbor for God's sake." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church)

"Catholic doctrine tells us that the primary duty of charity does not lie in the toleration of false ideas, however sincere they may be; nor in theoretical or practical indifference toward the errors and vices in which we see our brethren plunged, but in the zeal for their intellectual and moral improvement as well as for their material well-being. Catholic doctrine further tells us that love for our neighbor flows from our love for God, Who is Father to all, and the goal of the human family; and in Jesus Christ whose members we are, to the point that in doing good to others we are doing good to Jesus Christ Himself. Any other kind of love is sheer illusion, sterile and fleeting." (Pope St. Pius X, "Notre Charge Apostolique", 1910)

"Yet observe how, almost to the same extent of obedience he requires the performance of each command. For of God he says, with all your heart ['You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.' (Lk. 10:27)]. Of our neighbor, as yourself: Which if it were diligently kept, there would be neither slave nor free man, neither conqueror nor conquered, (or rasher, neither prince nor subject,) rich nor poor, nor would the devil be even known, for the chaff would rather stand the touch of fire than the devil the fervor of love; so surpassing all things is the constancy of love." (St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church)

"Saint John of Avila observes: some people are so clouded in their minds that 'they believe that if their heart moves them to do anything, they must do it, even if it is against the commandments of God. They say that they love Him so much that if they break his commandments they do not lose his love. In this way they forget that the Son of God preached the contrary from his own lips: whoever welcomes my commandments and observes them, this man loves me (John 14:21); if anyone loves me he will keep my commandments (John 14:23). And anyone who does not love me does not keep my words (cf. Jn. 14:24). Thus he makes us understand clearly that whoever does not keep his words has neither his friendship nor his love. As Saint Augustine says: 'no-one can love the king if he abhors his commandments.'" (Pontifical Council for the Family)

"And now He teaches them how to fit themselves to follow Him: A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another. But does not the old law say, you shall love your neighbor as yourself (Lev. 19:18)? Why then does He call it a new commandment? Is it because it strips us of the old man, and puts on us the new? That it renews the hearer, or rather the doer of it? Love does do this; but it is that love which our Lord distinguishes from the carnal affection: 'As I have loved you', that you also love one another. Not the love with which men love one another, but that of the children of the Most High God, who would be brethren of His only-begotten Son, and therefore love one another with that love with which He loved them, and would lead them to the fulfillment of their desires." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church)

"['I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.' (Jn. 13:34)] But do not think that that greater commandment, viz. that we should love the Lord our God, is passed by. For, if we understand the two precepts aright, each is implied in the other. He who loves God cannot despise His commandment that he should love his neighbor; and he who loves his neighbor in a heavenly spiritual way, in the neighbor loves God. That is the love which our Lord distinguishes from all human love, when He adds, 'As I have loved you', what did He, in loving us, love, but God in us; not who was in us, but so that He might be? Wherefore let each of us so love the other, as that by this working of love, we make each other the habitations of God." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church)

"[W]hen the Lord adds, 'This is the first and greatest commandment [You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind (Mt. 22:37)]', we learn how we ought to think of the commandments, that there is a great one, and that there are less down to the least. And the Lord says not only that it is a great, but that it is the first commandment, not in order of Scripture, but in supremacy of value. They only take upon them the greatness and supremacy of this precept, who not only love the Lord their God, but add these three conditions. Nor did He only teach the first and great commandment, but added that there was a second like to the first, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself'. But if whoever loves iniquity has hated his own soul, it is manifest that he does not love his neighbor as himself, when he does not love himself." [Origen ("the greatest scholar of Christian antiquity" - although he would eventually be excommunicated and be regarded as a heretic), 3rd century A.D.]

"Who doubts that love precedes the observance of the commandments? For who loves not, has not that whereby to keep the commandments. These words then do not declare whence love arises, but how it is shown, that no one might deceive himself into thinking that he loved our Lord, when he did not keep His commandments. Though the words, Continue you in My love (Jn. 15:9), do not of themselves make it evident which love He means, ours to Him, or His to us, yet the preceding words do: I love you, He says: and then immediately after, Continue you in My love. Continue you in My love, then, is, continue in My grace; and, If you keep My commandments, you shall abide in My love, is, your keeping of My commandments will be evidence to you that you abide in My love. It is not that we keep His commandments first, and that then He loves; but that He loves us, and then we keep His commandments. This is that grace, which is revealed to the humble, but hidden from the proud." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church)

"And so, when the Lord says, 'Thou shalt love the Lord thy God, from all thy heart and from all thy mind: and thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself,' let the faithful soul put on the unfading love of its Author and Ruler, and subject itself also entirely to His will in Whose works and judgments true justice and tender-hearted compassion never fail. For although a man be wearied out with labors and many misfortunes, there is good reason for him to endure all in the knowledge that adversity will either prove him good or make him better. But this godly love cannot be perfect unless a man love his neighbor also. Under which name must be included not only those who are connected with us by friendship or neighborhood, but absolutely all men, with whom we have a common nature, whether they be foes or allies, slaves or free. For the One Maker fashioned us, the One Creator breathed life into us; we all enjoy the same sky and air, the same days and nights, and, though some be good, others bad, some righteous, others unrighteous, yet God is bountiful to all, kind to all, as Paul and Barnabas said to the Lycaonians concerning God's Providence" (Pope St. Leo the Great, Doctor of the Church)

"[T]he reason why we ought to love others out of charity is because they are nigh to us, both as to the natural image of God, and as to the capacity for glory... The mode of love is indicated in the words 'as thyself'. This does not mean that a man must love his neighbor equally as himself, but in like manner as himself, and this in three ways. First, as regards the end, namely, that he should love his neighbor for God's sake, even as he loves himself for God's sake, so that his love for his neighbor is a holy love. Secondly, as regards the rule of love, namely, that a man should not give way to his neighbor in evil, but only in good things, even as he ought to gratify his will in good things alone, so that his love for his neighbor may be a righteous love. Thirdly, as regards the reason for loving, namely, that a man should love his neighbor, not for his own profit, or pleasure, but in the sense of wishing his neighbor well, even as he wishes himself well, so that his love for his neighbor may be a true love: since when a man loves his neighbor for his own profit or pleasure, he does not love his neighbor truly, but loves himself." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"But if any one ask how the love of God is to be obtained, we are sure that the love of God cannot be taught. For neither did we learn to rejoice in the presence of light, or to embrace life, or to love our parents and children; much less were we taught the love of God, but a certain seminal principle was implanted in us, which has within itself the cause, that man clings to God; which principle the teaching of the divine commands is wont to cultivate diligently, to foster watchfully, and to carry on to the perfection of divine grace. For naturally we love good; we love also what is our own, and akin to us; we likewise of our own accord pour forth all our affections on our benefactors. If then God is good, but all things desire that good, which is wrought voluntarily, He is by nature inherent in us, and although from His goodness we are far from knowing Him, yet from the very fact that we proceeded forth from Him, we are bound to love Him with exceeding, love, as in truth akin to us; He is likewise also a greater benefactor than all whom by nature we love here. And again, the love of God then is the first and chief command, but the second, as filling up the first and filled up by it, bids us to love our neighbor. Hence it follows, 'And [love] your neighbor as yourself'. But we have an instinct given us by God to perform this command, as who does not know that man is a kind and social animal? For nothing belongs so much to our nature as to communicate with one another, and mutually to need and love our relations. Of those things then of which in the first place He gave us the seed, He afterwards requires the fruits." (St. Basil the Great, Doctor of the Church)

"When therefore it is asked which is better or more meritorious, to love one's friend or one's enemy, these two loves may be compared in two ways, first, on the part of our neighbor whom we love, secondly, on the part of the reason for which we love him. In the first way, love of one's friend surpasses love of one's enemy, because a friend is both better and more closely united to us, so that he is a more suitable matter of love and consequently the act of love that passes over this matter, is better, and therefore its opposite is worse, for it is worse to hate a friend than an enemy. In the second way, however, it is better to love one's enemy than one's friend, and this for two reasons. First, because it is possible to love one's friend for another reason than God, whereas God is the only reason for loving one's enemy. Secondly, because if we suppose that both are loved for God, our love for God is proved to be all the stronger through carrying a man's affections to things which are furthest from him, namely, to the love of his enemies, even as the power of a furnace is proved to be the stronger, according as it throws its heat to more distant objects. Hence our love for God is proved to be so much the stronger, as the more difficult are the things we accomplish for its sake, just as the power of fire is so much the stronger, as it is able to set fire to a less inflammable matter. Yet just as the same fire acts with greater force on what is near than on what is distant, so too, charity loves with greater fervor those who are united to us than those who are far removed; and in this respect the love of friends, considered in itself, is more ardent and better than the love of one's enemy." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

Also See: Our Neighbor / Care & Treatment of Our Neighbor | Marriage | Friends / Friendship | Family / Families | Almsgiving | God's Love (Our Father's Love Reflections) | Love of God (Our Father's Love Reflections) | Love of God / Love of Neighbor (Our Father's Love Reflections) | Our Father's Love (Reflections) | Our Father's Love Section | Love / Love of God (Topical Scripture)

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