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developing love for God. - Meh - 08-23-2011

The "Contrition" thread called to mind something I've been trying to sort out lately...apologies if this is sort of rambling and disjointed but that's how my mind works lately.

I love my friends. I love (most) of my family. I'm pretty sure I love my pets. I have an emotional attachment to these people/things; I like to seem them happy and well. If they hurt, I hurt. I genuinely feel for them. I wouldn't do anything to consciously hurt them and would feel terrible if I did so accidentally, much less deliberately. When I think of God, though... I find that I admire and appreciate Him as one would appreciate a magnificent artist or an architect. The universe is a beautiful place and when I stop and take the time to marvel at the intricacy of creation, I am in awe...but do I feel love? I'm not sure that I can honestly say yes.

When I go to confession, If I pray the "most of all because I have offended thee" act of contrition, I feel like I'm lying. I'm in confession because I'm afraid I'm going to get in a car accident and go to Hell. Why would I be so cautious of my friends, but willing to cause Christ to be scourged? If the Jehovah's Witnesses and other annihilationists were right, that Hell meant destruction and not eternal punishment, I'd probably leave a trail of broken hearts and faces until I die and not look back. Fine, I'm not an ideal Christian, or person.

I know some say that love is an action, not a feeling, but how does that make sense with our Lord's command to love God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind? How do I gain that love that had the saints writing flowery devotions that they were content to just be in the presence of God, or even the kind of love that the big stadium, hand-raising "Now That's What I Call Contemporary Worship Music Vol. 432" Protestants claim to have? I'd like to be able to make a sincere perfect act of contrition, or better yet, to have such love for God that I care enough to not sin...but right now, it's probably just a curious mix of admiration and fear.

Any advice would be appreciated. Prayers too.


Re: developing love for God. - seanipie - 08-23-2011

I feel almost trollish, but this is exactly how I feel lately. Sin and the temptation to sin are a deep-seated problem in my case.


Re: developing love for God. - m.PR - 08-23-2011

Act as though you do. Say those prayers that talk about loving God often, thinking about how you want this to be true, not about how it is not and why should you and what a wretched person you are for not loving God. Most importantly ask God to turn your heart toward Him. In another thread, you mentioned having fallen away from the Church; it is natural that after spending time away from God your heart would grow distant from Him, and while it may be easy for the mind to bridge the gap, the heart acts in a different way.

I think this applies a bit. You are halfway there.

Blaise Pascal Wrote:[233/680.] ["I am] so made that I cannot believe. What, then, would you have me do?"

True. But at least learn your inability to believe, since reason brings you to this, and yet you cannot believe. Endeavour, then, to convince yourself, not by increase of proofs of God, but by the abatement of your passions. You would like to attain faith and do not know the way; you would like to cure yourself of unbelief and ask the remedy for it. Learn of those who have been bound like you, and who now stake all their possessions. These are people who know the way which you would follow, and who are cured of an ill of which you would be cured. Follow the way by which they began; by acting as if they believed, taking the holy water, having masses said, etc. Even this will naturally make you believe, and deaden your acuteness.



Re: developing love for God. - Silouan - 08-23-2011

Wow, what a great question! First it's important to differentiate between emotions on the one hand and love on the other. Love of course has an emotional component (especially at first) but that is not what love is. Emotions are a product of our fallen minds. They are simply our mind's reaction to a set of circumstances or stimuli. They are not to be trusted. Also remember the primary motivation of our minds is self preservation and all the attendant wants and desires that go along with that. Our minds are by their very nature selfish and so by extension emotions are self centered. To illustrate my point look at how many people behave when faced with betrayal by a loved one. How often does adultery end in divorce? We only "love" the other person when we are getting what we want/need from them. Otherwise they are all to easily discarded.

Genuine love is by its very nature completely other-centered. It is love of others for its own sake, simply because of what they are. Now, how do we develop genuine love for God? First of all we have to divest ourselves of the idea that we will necessarily "feel" anything. Remember, feelings are not to be trusted. The way we develop love for God is to participate in the Divine Life through participating in the Sacraments of the Church, through prayer and ascetical effort and through selflessly serving others. None of these things require feelings of any kind. God is there in the bread and wine, to experience Him all we have to do is be there too.

Maybe one day the feelings of joy will be there.........or maybe not. Joy is a gift of the Holy Spirit, we can not will it for ourselves. All we can do is develop the correct habits and behave a selflessly as possible. If we do these things we will grow in communion with God irrespective of our feelings.


Re: developing love for God. - Heinrich - 08-24-2011

I have been toiling in this, too. Your post corresponds to my thoughts.

I have fasted and deny myself pleasurable things, e.g spicy food.  When I deny myself unneeded pleasures, I always remind myself and repeat: "For the Love of God" "For the Love of God" "For the Love of God"

I am also re reading St. Alphonsus Liguori's How to Converse Continually and Familiarly with God.

I would also continue to develop a strong relationship with Our Lady and St. Therese of Lisieux, as a Little Way, everyday, will be efficacious.

:pray: :pray: :pray:


Re: developing love for God. - iona_scribe - 08-24-2011

Hmm...perhaps look into devotion to the Sacred Heart?

It's also helped me to think of penance and acts of reparation not as "punishing myself for God" but a as way that I can show love for Him by showing solidarity with Christ's sufferings.  Kind of like Heinrich said, "for love of God"  :)


Re: developing love for God. - Adam_Michael - 08-24-2011

Fake it until you make it.


Re: developing love for God. - Sempiternam - 08-24-2011

I find that regularly praying some portion of the Divine Office really helps me to know God, to meditate on His character, to love Him.  My love for God is more present and obvious to me when I sustain this practice of prayer.


Re: developing love for God. - SCG - 08-24-2011

Devotion to the Sacred Heart helped me.. There was a time when I could do nothing but say "Sacred Heart of Jesus, I trust in you. Sacred Heart of Jesus, I love you." It developed into love. Yes indeed.

Also, read the Bible every day. Oh yes.

You could always ASK God to help you to love him. As for "feeling" love, well, we all want that - the consolation of knowing and feeling God's love and approval of us. Pray psalm 51: "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence, and take not thy holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation, and uphold me with a free spirit."




Re: developing love for God. - Leo Rugiens - 08-24-2011

(08-23-2011, 10:59 PM)Meh Wrote: The "Contrition" thread called to mind something I've been trying to sort out lately...apologies if this is sort of rambling and disjointed but that's how my mind works lately.

I love my friends. I love (most) of my family. I'm pretty sure I love my pets. I have an emotional attachment to these people/things; I like to seem them happy and well. If they hurt, I hurt. I genuinely feel for them. I wouldn't do anything to consciously hurt them and would feel terrible if I did so accidentally, much less deliberately. When I think of God, though... I find that I admire and appreciate Him as one would appreciate a magnificent artist or an architect. The universe is a beautiful place and when I stop and take the time to marvel at the intricacy of creation, I am in awe...but do I feel love? I'm not sure that I can honestly say yes.

When I go to confession, If I pray the "most of all because I have offended thee" act of contrition, I feel like I'm lying.
## If your will agrees with the words, however weakly, you are not lying.
Quote:I'm in confession because I'm afraid I'm going to get in a car accident and go to Hell. Why would I be so cautious of my friends, but willing to cause Christ to be scourged? If the Jehovah's Witnesses and other annihilationists were right, that Hell meant destruction and not eternal punishment, I'd probably leave a trail of broken hearts and faces until I die and not look back. Fine, I'm not an ideal Christian, or person.
## God did not wait for us to become ideal before dying for us  - He died for His *enemies* (as St. Paul points out).
Quote:I know some say that love is an action, not a feeling, but how does that make sense with our Lord's command to love God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind? How do I gain that love that had the saints writing flowery devotions that they were content to just be in the presence of God, or even the kind of love that the big stadium, hand-raising "Now That's What I Call Contemporary Worship Music Vol. 432" Protestants claim to have? I'd like to be able to make a sincere perfect act of contrition, or better yet, to have such love for God that I care enough to not sin...but right now, it's probably just a curious mix of admiration and fear.

Any advice would be appreciated. Prayers too.
## Can you say that you want God, or even want to want Him ? If you can, then you love God. If you did not *want* to love God - why would you be so upset at your sense of inability to do so ?

Love develops by being acted on - it won't grow if not exercised. It's like flame: the more fuel it's given, the more it wants, and the more it grows :)  The only way to swim, is to do it: IOW, to swim. Love is the same. 

Two Saints who might help: St. Philip Neri, & St. Alphonsus Liguori. Particularly St. Philip.  He was noted for his devotion to the Mother of God, in a strongly Marian age; & to say he loved God is the understatement of the millennium. 

As for contrition: that is a matter of the will - not of the feelings. It is very important not to confuse

1) perfect contrition AKA contrition

with

2) intensely perfect contrition

or with

3) imperfect contrition, AKA attrition.

They are not the same. For absolution, even attrition  - as long as it is from a higher motive than servile fear - is enough. It is not as good as perfect contrition, because the motive is less pure. As for intensely perfect contrition, that is a matter of degree of contrition, therefore of love; not of *whether* one loves God, & is therefore sorry for sinning against Him.  even a very weak love of God is still love. Just as a  toddler, or someone on a drip, is as human as an athlete, though far less obviously so.  Contrition is essential to the sacrament of penance, otherwise there is no sacrament. Conversely, someone in mortal sin who is moved by God's grace to make an act of contrition, and dies without being confessed, is not damned; in the nature of the case that cannot happen, because he has turned from his sins. Only the impenitent can be damned. 

One thing that might help: a habit of thanksgiving. There is so much to give thanks for, if only we search for reasons to do so. We can give thanks for the Church, for being made members of it, for our patron Saints, for the graces they received, for our attraction to them, for their intercession, their holiness, their lives, their particular vocations in life, their faithfulness, their good example, each of their virtues, the glory they enjoy in Heaven, the goodness of God to them - & that is just a beginning. If we were as grateful for God's Goodness to us and to others as we might be, we would never be finished thanking Him, and we would discover more and more how worthy of being loved and thanked He is.