I know nothing about love
I’d been Catholic for just a few months when the young priest approached me in the empty church. Everyone had left after the morning Mass but I stayed on my knees staring at the crucifix.
The priest who would become my first spiritual director asked, “Are you okay?”
With tears in my eyes, I looked up at him and replied, “I know nothing about love.”
Somberly, Fr. Greg regarded me for a long moment. Then he nodded and walked away. That was over twenty years ago, but my conviction isn’t diminished. Rather, it’s amplified.
But yet there are times at Mass, or for just a moment when my thoughts turn to prayer.
Words fail when my heart seeks Him and a hummingbird appears out of nowhere.
Or I see a brand-new baby deer stumbling along in the effort to follow his mother.
Again I know I know nothing about love.
Part of my ignorance is language-based. English has just one word for love while Hebrew has nine and Aramaic, the language Jesus and disciples spoke, has 100 words for love.
As a young college student, I was privileged to be taught about the power of the vernacular by an expert: a Dominican nun. Therefore I learned early on that the choice of our words matter.
But when we look at the crucifix
we know there’s Something Else here. Something too immense for a human word. And yet, it’s all we have, isn’t it?
Perhaps like you, I’ve pondered this, off and on, ever since I converted to Catholic Christianity. This past week, I was given the means to frame the mystery of God’s love. In a splendid article on Ratzinger’s Gospel of Love, Conor Sweeny provides the perfect lens.
For me, it’s a pure WOWZA!
As he would explain in Introduction to Christianity, what makes Christianity unique is that “the God of faith is basically defined by the category of relationship” (147). This “corrects philosophy and lets us know that love is higher than pure thought.” It lets us know that God in himself is not thought thinking itself or the ground of sufficient reason but rather the eternal exchange of love.
This simple declaration of Pope Benedict: “this corrects philosophy and lets us know that love is higher than pure thought, warrants shouting from the rooftops.
Correcting Descartes, Nietzche, Kant, Hume, the long list of ‘enlightenment’ philosophers who were loved into being.
And I smile. And can’t stop it from morphing into a grin.
Because we’re not alone in this sea of darkness. No, there are more of us than we can ever imagine.
Doing our best, knowing it isn’t much.
And even when it all goes wrong,
He picks us up to try once more
We stand before the Lord with song
With nothing on our tongue but Hallelujah.