Oblate Program at Belmont Abbey, NC

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What is the reward for loving God and by that fact our deepening ability to love others? The remuneration for love is too simply love more. If God is love, infinite love as manifested to us in Christ Jesus, then our relationship is not static but goes deeper into this mystery of love. Our movies, literature, art and our most urgent longings are for love. Because we are made for a love that is infinite, a love that can’t be owned, or bought, or for that matter controlled, all other loves become pointers to this one reality of God’s love for us and our longing to return it. The death that Jesus is calling us to is the letting go of control, as well as our often insane search for love in places that actually limit our humanity and imprison us.

Our lives are difficult; it is when we try to escape the trails of life that can get us into trouble. Our lack of love for others is often a tactic to keep others at arms length. Our contempt and anger is one way at keeping the pain that others show us at a safe distance. This is isolating and causes our hearts to close down; we fear life. The fruits of the spirit allow us to grow in love that the grace of Jesus Christ offers us. The fruits of the spirit are: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Gentleness, Goodness, Faithfulness and Self control. When we allow the fruits of the Spirit to rule our souls then we are not fearful of allowing the pain and suffering of others into our lives. Our hearts expand and through God’s grace, people experience Jesus Christ through us. We allow ourselves to be used by God to touch others; we simply stay open to what is before us and seek to follow God’s will for us. We do not seek to control or to manipulate others, we see Christ in all of those around us and when we interact with others we plant seeds in their hearts, just as our relationship with others also ministers to us in often unforeseen and wonderful ways.

We with God’s grace will slowly become the people we never thought possible. When we say the Our Father, we are in fact forgiving everyone in our lives that have hurt us, even if we do not advert to it. The very fact that we pray, which is a response to grace’s invitation, is a sign that we are on the road of love and healing. Even though at times we much make a difficult act of trust; for trust in a conscious stance and choice towards God’s love, not only for us, but for all. On the Cross, Christ said these words: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do”. This is a prayer based on love and an insight into our struggles, failures and passions that often blind us to the truth. Christ was fully human, as well as divine; we are called to allow the humanity of Christ to make us like him, human beings that live out the image that they are made in. It is by our compassion and empathy for others that we live out his divine image in our souls.

Br. Mark Dohle, OCSO
Holy Spirit Monastery

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