Love's Slow Burn...

"Our hearts are restless, O God, until they rest in You..." St. Augustine

How often I have heard that saying of St. Augustine in many different settings. But as I sit here and think about St. Augustine, he knows the truth of the words because he lived a life of darkness and then a life of grace. He knew the restlessness of lust and insatiability it brings.

People often compare love and attraction to a fire and heat. But the burn of love and the burn of lust burn very differently.

Lust can be compared to an explosive and aggressive fire that seeks to consume at all costs. It seeks to fuel itself and sustain itself no matter what the cost. Lust burns hot and spends itself quickly. Whether the lust is for a person or for power or material possessions, lust is exhausting and tiring and loses interest quickly once it satisfies and possesses it's desire. It never satisfies and always remains restless, irritable and discontented.

At the heart of the matter, lust is grasping rather than receiving. Pope John Paul II writes extensively on these realities in the Theology of the Body and Love and Responsibility. Lust seeks to take rather than give. Lust seeks itself rather than upholding the beauty and dignity of the other.

At the end of the movie The Help, Aibileen finally confronts the town bully Hilly and shouts at her, "aint you tired, Miss Hilly? Aint you tired?"

Being manipulative and destructive takes away a lot of energy from a person, and we get to a point from all of our plotting and grasping that we are just exhausted, but will we give it up?

Love burns very differently. It may indeed begin very explosively and hot but Pope John Paul II says that that attraction is only the "raw material" of love and not love itself. For love to truly develop and grow, it must penetrate the feelings and transform the will. Love is a choice. Sometimes love is accompanied by feelings that move us along pleasantly and sometimes we are confronted by feelings wherein we must choose to stay faithful and true because that is true love.

And all the while, love just burns deeper and deeper. It continues to seek the mystery of the person and behold their beauty. It burns the reflection of the other into ones heart and allows us to entrust ourselves to the other.

I think this is the kind of love St. Augustine speaks of. St. Augustine knows that it is Jesus who is lover of our souls. And even in true love, there still is an element of longing, as in a desire to know and love the other more deeply. Its not the restlessness of of lust but the burning for eternity.

All of us, every single one of us, must enter on the journey of integration of our masculinity or femininity. No one can say, "I'm fine, there is no need for healing or integration within me." This simply isn't true. If we are to live true happiness, which is holiness, then we must enter into the Paschal Mystery with Jesus and Mary. If we are to be radiant and authentic witnesses in this dark world, then we must do the work within ourselves first.

Let us ask for and embrace the courage that the Holy Spirit pours out upon us, "for God has not given us a spirit of cowardice but of power, love and self-control." 2 Tim 1:7


pigeon1970 said…
I love St. Augustine. I listen to Donna Cori Gibson's Prayers of the Great Saints often and hit repeat (much to my boys' chagrin) to hear St. Augustine over and over. I saw the new movie Courageous tonight and there is a scene between a father and his teenage daughter that moved me to tears. It just confirmed for me the important role fathers have in the lives of their children. I have thought a lot about what you brought to our retreat last weekend and I am grateful for the way God uses your passion to reach His children. May He continue to bless you and your ministry.

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