Saturday, March 13, 2010


Friday morning in the homily I had the presumption to stand off from comments made by the Capuchin Preacher to the Papal Household, Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, OFM Cap., in a snippet printed in Magnificat. His was a comment on the nature of the 2nd great commandment, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” His point was that here Jesus was forcing us to face real love because we cannot deceive ourselves as to how we love ourselves, though we could deceive ourselves as to how we love even God:
“Man knows what it means to love himself at all times; it is a mirror which is always in front of him.”
His conclusion is that therefore we know the true depth of love of the other required of us. It is precisely on this point that I think Fr. Cantalamessa is mistaken…

We all too often do in fact deceive ourselves as to self-love: worse, too often we secretly (unconsciously) regard ourselves as unworthy of being loved at all. This, then, becomes translated into a projection onto others that they, too, are not worthy of being loved, surely not by us. And so in an ironic fashion we love others as we love ourselves: badly.

Once we project the sense of being unlovable onto another, it is a fatally easy series of steps to move from that to “He/She/They are to be mistrusted, to be feared, to be hated: to be regarded as Enemy.” If they are enemy to me, violent retaliation (or “preventative strikes”) are now justified in my mind. And there we are—in the world-view lived out and acted out as we know it today. The results of this are being played out now in the Middle East, Honduras, Tibet, Pakistan, Nigeria…; they have historically been played out in Northern Ireland, South Africa…the list goes on.

To me, there is only one way out of this vicious cycle of believing oneself contemptible, therefore holding others in contempt: it is accepting the reality of being loved. This is the great promise of God: "In spite of your failings, your backslidings, your sins—I love you, and you are mine. Won’t you let me love you—please??"

If we believe we are loved, we by definition realize we are lovable, and by projection can conclude that others are lovable, as well. We cannot hate lovable people, only despicable ones. And so the cycle of evil can be broken—by forgiveness and reconciliation in love.

Whom do we “hate”? I ask this because those with whom we are angry are typically hated in our unconscious. Do we really want to hold on to this? Isn’t it time to let go and let God be God, the God who loves? When we do, then the words of Jesus to the scribe in the Gospel (Mark 12:28-34) will be true for us, too: “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.”


  1. I agree with this viewpoint. However, having been around and around this life of unexpected events and its effect on humans, we might have to set up wall-to-wall couches to accommodate therapy sessions. And my prayer for religious vocations must be compounded to continue the healing process of learning to love oneself, to love the Lord, and then to love ALL others, even though they may be hard to like.

  2. I also agree; I actually remember thinking about this exact thing early in my conversion. I think I had a rather negative view of myself about that time, so the commandment to love others as you love yourself struck me with the way it presumes that you must start by loving yourself. The way I went about explaining that was similar too: that we who don't love ourselves should realize that we are children of God; God created us, and we are in His image. And recalling the account of creation, God saw and thought it was all good.

  3. You and your previous cmmenters have expressed it beautifully. How can we not realize that we are worthy of love with the Lord giving this commandment!

  4. I agree this is beautiful....unfortunately we live in a real world with a real living darkness among us, that is on a constant/non stop prowl for souls. To truly Love is to make this danger among us known. In other words, to flush it out, or expose it, so that we can then know him and call him by name. We cannot continue to be fed cake, and be told not to worry, be happy, or to just stick our heads in the sand. There is an intense spiritual battle taking place, right as we speak, we cannot continue to not engage in this battle for our Lord, Jesus Christ. John 15:16...John 15:19...Are not unborn children whose very lives are threatened by abortion our neighbors?

  5. I ask your pardon if you are (or have been offended) by the comments posted before/above (at 9:31 am). I ask that the readers understand my heart, and please know I meant no disrespect, but after having re-read it, it sounds or comes across as being overly critical. At the end of the day; Love, Hope, and Faith in our Lord will carry us through and His Will will prevail. I ask for your prayers regarding the issue of abortion, that we as a people of God, come together and take a stance for these, who are truly the poorest and most vulnerable among us, "the unborn Child of God". His Will, not mine be done. in the Name of All that is HOLY, and HOLY is His Name....

  6. A worthwhile intention to include in one's prayers is for our Congress

    to protect our U.S. Constitution.............which this present

    administration considers 'outmoded' - particularly in regard to

    abortion.......Peace to all of you.

  7. Dear Newer Pathways,

    I agree with your comment. We are on a path toward socialism. Today abortion is legal and will very likely become federally funded using our tax dollars. What's next? Euthanasia, gay marriage legalized on the federal level, the stripping of parent's authority over their children, Christianity deemed a domestic terror group. I truly do not understand some people's complacency with all that is happening right before their very eyes and ears. Peace to you also.