“Deus Caritas Est.” God is Love.
Recently, I waited in anticipation for the release of Pope Benedict’s first encyclical (a formal letter from the pope to the entire Church). There is a lot of emphasis put on a pope’s first encyclical because it is his first chance to formally write out his feelings and it gives us an idea of how he will be leading the Church during his pontificate. Many had the perception that Pope Benedict, being the outspoken defender of the faith that he has been in the past, would come out on the attack, pointing out everything that is wrong with the world and calling everyone to repentance. To the surprise of many, although not really surprising at all, he opened his first encyclical with an often forgotten, fundamental Truth that is the very heart of the Catholic faith, “Deus Caritas Est.” God is Love.
At once I knew what this first blog post should be about: God is Love. Even if only replicating the theme of our pope, it says what I want to say far better than I could say it. It’s something that captures the entire essence of what I want to share with this blog and that all of us must work to put at the heart of our hearts. This is what I hope to always get across no matter what I am saying, writing, or doing and no matter how pathetically short I fall in living up to those things. God is Love.
In all that God and our Catholic faith have to offer to our soul, body, and intellect and in the many amazing mediums God has chosen to share that with us, ultimately it all comes to us in a single currency: love. If we are unable to first speak the language of love, then we can never understand any of it. If we are unable to love and be loved, then no matter what we claim to believe or how much knowledge and wisdom we possess, we can not know God. “Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love” (1 John 4:8). And as humans, we were specifically made to know and to love God. The Catechism of the Catholic Church actually begins (the prologue) with the title, “The Life of Man – To Know and Love God.” It’s that simple. The pages that follow mean absolutely nothing if not understood with that purpose. God is Love.
As humans, we are always looking for signs. We want God to ‘prove’ his existence. We want something that touches our senses, something we can experience. So God, of course knowing all of this, gave us Love. What else is there that overwhelms every physical sense, is completely beyond our intellect, and yet perfectly nourishes our soul? We want a sign? Love is the single greatest sign of God. God is Love.
A good thing for us is that God designed us with the desire and capacity to love. He created us in His image. And love begets love. Once we experience real love, we want more of it. Unfortunately, because we are imperfect, impatient, and prone to sin, we often times fill that yearning for ‘more’ with things other than real love and we suffer because of it. So how do we know what real love is? There are many people, groups, tv shows, movies, teachers, etc. in this world that will try to tell you what real love is. And many of them sell it very well. But if we really want to know for sure, why not go to the expert? If we really want to love to the best of our ability, then we must go to the source of all love: God. God’s love is far greater than any love we can imagine. If we want to know how we can best love, we must get to know God. God is Love.
So again, God, fully understanding our need to know Him, didn’t just leave us to figure it out on our own. He didn’t just send a letter telling us about Himself. He didn’t just send a friend to tell us. He made the visit Himself. And not only did He make the visit himself, but He humbled himself and actually became one of us. God became man. What better way to allow us to get to know Him? Then, He didn’t just explain who He was with words, He showed us. And what He showed us was the single greatest act of love in all of human existence: The sacrifice of his own life so that we may have life…eternal life. God is Love.
So we understand that our purpose is to know and love God. That’s what we were made to do. And God gave us everything we need to do that. He became one of us so that we could meet Him and know Him. Then, in showing us who He is, He showed us the single greatest act of love: Total and complete self sacrifice. Then, He came back from the dead and told His apostles, “See that? Do you see what I just did? Do you see who I am? Do you see what love is? Do you see what your life is for?”
“Now go forth and love.” Deus Caritas Est. God is Love.