Distractions and thoughts pull my mind in a myriad of directions. Every now and again I see one consistent theme flow through them all. Mankind has always been fascinated with the ideas of love. The best and brightest of us fall to daydreaming and building castles in the sky. But as these loveliest of emotions fade and the mundane day to day tasks resume in their grayness, one sees the point of love beyond one person’s—one couple’s—emotional desires. There’s responsibility, there’s duty, there’s faithfulness, there’s openness, there’s devotion. However, if we fail to look outside of ourselves and our personal understanding of love, we miss the point. Romantic love is a mere reflection of a greater, grander love.
Today I read Clement of Rome’s Epistle to the Corinthian Church. Clement is called the first Apostolic Father among the church leaders in the generation after the Disciples. In a letter we date around 96 AD, Clement writes:
Who can describe the constraining power of a love for God? Its majesty and its beauty who can adequately express? No tongue can tell the heights to which love can uplift us. Love binds us fast to God. Love casts a veil over sins innumerable. There are no limits to love’s endurance, no end to its patience. Love is without servility, as it is without arrogance. Love knows of no divisions, promotes no discord; all the works of love are done in perfect fellowship.
Further, he adds:
It was in love that all God’s chosen saints were made perfect; for without love nothing is pleasing to Him. It was in love that the Lord drew us to Himself; because of the love He bore us, our Lord Jesus Christ, at the will of God, gave His blood for us—His flesh for our flesh, His life for our life.
See then, dear friends, what a great and wondrous thing love is. Its perfection is beyond all words. Who is fit to be called its possessor, but those whom God deems worthy? Let us beg and implore of His mercy that we may be purged of all earthly preferences for this man or that, and be found faultless in love.
Though every generation from Adam to the present day has passed from the earth, yet such of them as by God’s grace were perfected in love have their place now in the courts of the godly, and at the visitation of Christ’s kingdom they will be openly revealed… My friends, if we keep God’s commandments in a true loving comradeship together, so that our sins may be forgiven for that love’s sake, we are blessed indeed.
In Chapel we often pray this great prayer from Phyllis Tickle’s The Divine Hours. It’s words have resonated with me often in the past months. I compartmentalize my life, forgetting that what I truly believe is seen unwittingly in all my actions. And so, I have begun to pray this prayer with new depth and meaning, understanding how greatly I fall short and how greatly I hope to see that same love Clement describes seen in my deeds.
O Lord, you have taught us that without love whatever we do is worth nothing: Send your Holy Spirit and pour into my heart your greatest gift, which is love, the true bond of peace and of all virtue, without which whoever lives is accounted dead before you. Grant this for the sake of your only Son, Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.