Love is not a feeling. One lives love through feelings, as well as through the bodily senses, but it is actually a strength given to us by God, it is the strength to renounce ourselves, to offer ourselves to the other. There are several forms of love, we know that there is the love of friendship, the eros type of love and the agape type of love; the latter is the love that God asks of us when He says: ‘Love each other as I have loved you.’
The Church teaches us to love the way God does, to love with God’s love. Like in the relationship with God, in the relationship with the one we love – may them be our child, our mother-in-law, our mother or our husband – we don’t rely on feelings. We thank God when the feelings are positive, we bear the negative ones, but we rely on the strength that God gives us in order to love one another. Love has the form of forgiveness, it has the form of weeping – when a beloved one dies our love is mourning, it is grief, it is weeping and we don’t say ‘stop weeping, forget it…’ Why shouldn’t we weep? We weep with longing, we weep with self-pity because we have been left alone. But we have the hope that they are all right. This is my love and this weeping never ceases if it is the death of a child, but this doesn’t mean that we stop smiling, that we stop enjoying life, but we weep for the love which we now live in this form.
How can you let yourself guided by God’s will, but not in the meaning of becoming careless? Just like this, you go ahead and do it! ‘Lord, let Your will be done!’ And when you feel like acting in any way, say: ‘Is this God’s will?’ And this thought alone is enough for you. If I intend to do something I say: ‘Lord, I want to do this, but may Your will be done, not mine.’ And I accept the option which doesn’t work out, because then it means that that is how God wanted it. I tell Him what I want because I know what I want, I have given some thought to it, but I leave room to God as well. When I don’t know what I want then it is something that doesn’t come from God. I must make the choice. God doesn’t choose for me. I have taken the decision, this is the way I would like to act, but may You, Lord, decide. Or in some situations I seek the advice of my parents who have more experience, I consult my confessor.
Translated by Claudia
Good Lord, do You love me? Me, I love You the way I am…
You know all the corners of my heart and You hear me when I call to You
You suffer by my side, You rejoice with me, You smile with me
Like a child I try to embrace You, to gently touch Your hand
You turn the evil into good, and perform miracles out of simple things
Being the love of the entire world, love me the way I am
When I least deserve, when I get sad or I rebel
Love me like that and as You wish heal my weaknesses
Love me like a gentle parent, show me the path towards which I shall go
When man hurts, You hurt with him
You help him carry his cross,
You carry him in Your arms to Heaven and wipe his tears away with kindness
Good Lord, I want to keep You in my soul
To be able to love by forgiving, to be able to rise after falling
I love You, the way I am!
Translated by Claudia
Perfect love persists even when the one you love treats you with indifference. Perfect love goes the whole length hog. Love… What is love? Seeing eternity gathered in the eyes of the one you love. Praying for the salvation of the soul of the one you love more than you usually pray for your own salvation. What is love? Not caring about how many flaws they have. Nor about where they live, how much money they have, how many cars, what shoe size they wear, what designer clothes they wear and so on. Impossible?
No, this is not impossible when you love. How do you realize that you love? When it is the hardest. When you suffer terribly. When you feel like you have to bear the heaviest cross. Heavy and yet sweet. Excruciating and yet full of comfort. How come? When you say to God during prayer in the evening: ‘I can’t take no more, Lord! Do something! Take my life into Your hands.’ That is the beginning of love. It is only then that you discover true love in all its magnificence. Yes, in the midst of your tears, in the midst of your torments. In your prayer. That is where love is.
There is a great difference between telling and showing somebody that you love them. It is not important to declare your love out loud. Christ has shown you His love. How? ‘Seeing thee pierced with nails upon the Cross’ we all sing on the Great Friday, during Lamentations. And we also sing: ‘The Master of all, is here seen lying dead.’ This is His love shown to us, the sinners. Shown to you and to me. What does Saint Paul the Apostle teach us all? ‘To know Christ’s love which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God’. He makes his endless love known to us.
If the one you love hung you on a cross, would you still be able to tell them that you love them? You wouldn’t be able to bear a needle pinching your palm, let alone a nail… Would you be able to bear being pierced with nails for the sake of a girl / a boy? Would you be able to taste vinegar mixed with gall? And nonetheless He was. Why? Out of His unspoken love. Naturally, nobody asks you to get hung on a cross for the sake of somebody. Do you know why nobody does that? Because love itself is crucifixion.
In order to get to see that eternity in the eyes of the one you love you have to go through a lot of grievous moments. You have to ask yourself a thousand questions and discover that actually there’s nobody that can give you answers to them. The answer lies within your heart. Nobody can take away what you feel. You must not allow anyone to crush the treasure created within you. Love is not just a feeling. Love is a treasure. Keep it.
I remember writing this in an article one year ago: ‘Love is worse than a case of vascular dementia. I have reached the conclusion that it is not a movie, it is not a moral pain, it is not a torment, it is not a suffering, it is not a whim, it is not a trial, it is not a demon, it is not bitterness. It is death itself. You die as you love. You die when you start to love. There is only a beginning. There is no end. You die searching for this end. Vainly.’ But today during the Divine Liturgy I discovered life. Yes, in that death which is love. There is love in there. You die as you love so that you can later revive. Have you noticed what they sing in the troparion of a woman martyr? ‘I die for Thee so that I may live in Thee.’ How beautiful! This is true love. And you cannot love somebody else if you haven’t still learnt how to love God at least a little.
Perfect love comes to life the moment you renounce yourself for him or for her. You uproot yourself! You forget about yourself! You forget about your needs! You forget you are ill, you forget you have nothing to eat, you forget you stay in the cold, you forget any kind of misfortune that comes your way. Love is alleviation, love is nurture. Love is fire.
You don’t need to go to the one you love and tell them what you feel. Let God work. He knows what lies hidden inside every man. When I was just a child I thought I loved… And how did I prove my love? I patted him on the shoulder wishing him: ‘Merry Christmas!’ Then I ran away without waiting for an answer. It is an incident that now amuses me. I am actually amused at this incident every year before our Savior’s Nativity. But back then that’s what I thought love meant.
You, who will read these lines… I beseech you to do something else! Talk to the Lord about your dear one. Tell Him to do His best in order for that person to feel His Nativity, His Resurrection, His Ascension. After having felt all these, they will definitely feel what you feel for them as well. With Him everything is possible. Don’t forget that. Also don’t forget what is written in the First Epistle General of Saint John the Apostle which is: ‘There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment, but he who fears has not been made perfect in love.’ (1 John, 4, 18) Don’t be afraid of anything. Don’t you have any regrets. Dare to love. Dare to love with His love. ‘Love be yours in abundance!’, Saint Jude the Apostle says to us all.
Perfect love persists even when the one you love treats you with indifference. Perfect love goes the whole length hog. Love…
How wonderful love is!
Translated by Claudia