Quinton Steward Son of God, Lover of all things Good, True and Beautiful
In the ministry there is a specific vernacular. It is comprised of words that are simultaneously direct yet full of ambiguity and nonetheless fundamental to describe the inexplicable qualities of spirituality. Of such words that are frequently spoken is the term “to love God.” As is common, the word love can imply a variety of denotations depending on an individual’s personal experience and universal experience. However, it is interesting that there seems to be an underlying thoughts and actions that could be universally applied when attempt “to love God”. I find myself often searching for a golden standard or practice. Whether this is a recent reflection or one that has lingered dormant in the back of my mind until now, I am unsure. But, one aspect is certain. I have a fervent desire to reflect and describe our faith’s tradition on this topic for the sake of clarity.
“Our Creed begins with the creation of heaven and earth, for creation is the beginning and the foundation of all God's works” (CCC 198).
Within the capacity to love God, there is an indication to love the world and everything that must and will occur in that world. For it is common knowledge in the Christian faith that in the beginning God created all life, the heavens and the Earth. Although it is easy to love what is good, beautiful and righteous, this is only half of life. The other half we encounter has been traditionally described as evil; not beautiful, not righteous, and to be avoided. Where does evil come from? "I sought whence evil comes and there was no solution", said St. Augustine (CCC 385). It then becomes crucial for the Christian to comprehend what makes an action morally wrong, which will help us to avoid evil objects, intentions, or circumstances.
The morality of human acts depends on:
- the object chosen; We must use reason to recognize and judge person, place or thing to be or not to be in conformity with the true good.
- the end in view or the intention; Intention is concerned with the “good” goal of the activity. - the circumstances of the action. The circumstances contribute to increasing or diminishing the moral goodness or evil of human acts. (CCC 1750-1754).
It is equally important that we recognize that evil people were not mentioned when describing morally evil objects, intentions, or circumstances. I often wonder whether it is also honorable to love those who have chosen to adopt immoral objects, intentions, or circumstances. If it is not honorable to love the person evil has touched then the scales of life seem to be unbalanced. It should only follow that the word “love” should include loving those who have been broken or incapacitated by evil thought, word, or deed.
After all, the psalmist wrote, "The LORD is good to all, and his compassion is over all that he has made." (Psalm 145:9).
As I mentioned briefly earlier, I have recently found it important to acknowledge the capacity to love all that is good, and those affected by evil, as I understand, both are ruled or at least overseen by God. As unnatural as it may sound, the individual often has great difficulty loving neighbor until they have entirely experienced these failures, sins, when they “failed” to chose the morally-good objects,intentions, or circumstances themselves. The consequences of original sin and of all men's personal sins put the world as a whole in the sinful condition aptly described in St. John's expression, "the sin of the world", which we hear that Christ has conquered, for our sake, each time we celebrate the Eucharist (CCC 408).
It is certainly inevitable that as a part of each individual’s life is: DEATH. To many, death is the final stage of life and worldly experience. For the statements that follow I will choose my words carefully in fear of being misinterpreted, but I often think that one cannot fully experience life and the world without eventually overcoming the fear of death. In other words, to love the world and all life God created, this must certainly mean we are to love. We do this by the act of continuously giving the “gift” of our lives back to God the “giver of Life”. We “die” to self and personal sin, as we give ourselves more and more daily to Christ by choosing good objects, good intentions, and placing ourselves in good circumstances.