THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH

Her Doctrine and Morals

Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost

27 September 2020

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Dear Friend,

All the commandments are essential; however, they all have their foundation in love. God is Love. When we love, we know God. When God appeared in the flesh of a Man, it required, not only faith on our part but, more importantly, it required love for us to see with the heart and believe. An essential element of the Catholic faith is the belief that Jesus is God — the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity.

To see the Divinity in the Body of Man, and then to find Him hidden under the appearance of bread and wine in the Holy Eucharist requires faith, but even before this or at least concurrent with the receiving of this Faith, we must have a true love of God. We believe what Jesus has revealed to us because we love Him. We trust Him.

The Pharisees in today's Gospel knew of the commandment to love, but they failed in the fulfillment of loving God. It is not enough to know something; we must also believe it and genuinely love it. The Pharisees had knowledge of the Law just as many Catholics have knowledge of the Catechism. It is not enough to have a theoretical knowledge of the True Faith. Nor is it enough to have a material observance of Catholic practices or customs. This was not enough for the Pharisees, nor will it be enough for us.

To truly observe the commandments, we must love God and our neighbor as we love ourselves. The pursuit of knowledge based on curiosity or vanity will profit us nothing. There are probably a good number of theologians in Hell. The exactness of our religious practices and customs will not gain us any merit with God unless it is motivated by love.

Without love, we can know nothing, and we can do nothing worthy of merit. The knowledge, wisdom, and strict observance of the letter of the Law did nothing to truly aid the Pharisees that were lacking in love. No doubt, many imagined that they loved God because they studied the Law and observed many outward practices, but their hearts were vain or empty. They, perhaps, desired to impress their fellow men or to be looked up to by their associates, or even to earn a livelihood in this world. This they received, and thus obtained the reward they desired. What they lacked was the love of God. They did not do these things for God or an eternal reward, and so they could not obtain what they did not desire.

The Pharisees could not understand how King David could refer to his own Son as his Lord because they did not love God. What they thought they knew, as it turns out, they did not really know. True knowledge comes from God. It is His gift and He gives it to those who love Him. True Faith comes from God, and this too, He gives to those who Love Him.

Our Holy Mother the Church gives us the opportunity, today, to reflect upon ourselves. Do we love God? Are our prayers and devotions, as well as our very lives, motivated by the love of Jesus?

The study of the Faith, the memorization and repetition of prayers, the outward observance of rites and ceremonies are all very tedious and boring if they are not motivated by love. Love transforms everything and makes them sweet and pleasant. The humble self-denial and carrying of our crosses can only be done correctly when they are motivated by love. Without love, this is bitter, heavy, painful, and odious to us, with love we find them to be sweet, light, peasant, and lovable.

The daily Rosary, and even the Holy Mass Itself, is often found to be boring, and monotonous — a tedious burden that we eagerly look for reasons to excuse ourselves from. What is the problem? We often suggest that we do not fully understand what the Holy Rosary is, or what the Holy Mass is. We lay the blame at a lack of knowledge. However, this is not always the case. The most indifferent and disinterested Catholic often can repeat the Catechism definitions correctly. They can often tell us that they believe. They have a superficial or material belief. What is truly lacking is love.

If we love Jesus, we will never tire of learning all that we can of Him. We will never tire of speaking of Him. We will never tire of praying — speaking to Him. Most importantly, we will never tire of being in His Holy Presence in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and receiving Him into our bodies.

Knowing the dogmas of the Catholic Church is important, but if genuine love is missing, we can not truly know them or understand them. If we have love of God then, and only then, can we see and believe as we should. Knowledge without love is dead.

Let us beg of Jesus that True Love that we need to believe and follow Him. May we sincerely pray with St. Augustine (in his Confessions): "I have loved Thee late My God! I have loved Thee late, but I love Thee now. Help me to love Thee more and more every day."

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