As the Bible and the entire Christian tradition rightly instructs us, love, which we commonly refer to as charity, is the apex of our Christian way of life. Several are the prayer books which talk about the basic qualities of Christian love.
It is wise and proper to recall what the Compendium of the Cathecism of the Catholic Church has to say about love as charity. While replying to the question: what is charity, The Compendium gives the following answer: Charity is the theological virtue by which we love God above all things and our neighbor as ourselves for the love of God. Jesus makes charity the new commandment, the fullness of the law. “It is the bond of perfection” (Colossians 3:14) and the foundation of the other virtues to which it gives life, inspiration, and order. Without charity “I am nothing” and “I gain nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:1-3) (no.1844).
Charity is one of the signs of being authentically a Christian. This is magnificently recorded by the famous hymn which reminds us: “They’ll know we are Christians by our love.” However, and first and foremost, this kind of love must necessarily involve, primarily, the love of God. This is the basis which englightens our love of neighbour, as God himself is the love.
St John Mary Vianney, the Holy Curè d’Ars, is the composer of an excellent act of love to God. When studies it well one cannot not conclude how, the Holy Spirit, endowed with grace
from his infancy, made him model of filial piety, devoted servant of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, spotless lily of purity, faithful imitator of the sufferings of Christ, abyss of humility, seraph of prayer, faithful adorer of the Most Blessed Sacrament, ardent lover of holy poverty, true son of St. Francis of Assisi, exemplary Franciscan tertiary, tender friend of the poor, penetrator of the fear of God’s judgment, fortified by divine visions, who was tormented by the evil spirit, perfect model of sacerdotal virtue, firm and prudent pastor, inflamed with zeal, faithful attendant on the sick, indefatigable catechist, who did preach in words of fire, wise director of souls, specially gifted with the spirit of counsel, enlightened by light from Heaven, formidable to Satan, compassionate with every misery, providence of the orphans, favored with the gift of miracles, who did reconcile so many sinners to God, who didst confirm so many of the just in the way of virtue, who did taste the sweetness of death, who now rejoices in the glory of Heaven, who gives joy to those who invoke you, heavenly patron of parish priests, and model and patron of directors of souls.
The following Act of Love penned by him show the heart, power and source of his priestly holiness. Let us taste it together!
I love You, O my God, and my sole desire is to love You until the last breath of my life. I love You, O infinitely lovable God, and I prefer to die loving You than to live one instant without loving You I love You, O my God, and I do not desire anything but heaven so as to have the joy of loving You perfectly. I love You, O my God, and I fear hell, because there will not be the sweet consolation of loving You. O my God, if my tongue cannot say in every moment that I love You, I want my heart to say it in every beat. Allow me the grace to suffer loving You, to love you suffering, and one day to die loving You and feeling that I love You. And as I approach my end, I beg you to increase and perfect my love of You.
Let us begin our day with this splendid Act of Love to Our Lord, preferably in front of the Eucharistic Jesus or in the comfort of our homes. Let us let the Holy Father make us all fire for the Father in the Son. Amen!
Fr Mario Attard OFM Cap