April 2, 2017
If we must take care to distinguish love from altruism, we must certainly take care to distinguish love from appetite. This difference was brought home to me by the guy who confessed that he was not ‘in love’ with the woman he was seeing, but ‘in lust’.
Appetite/lust looks at the world as a vast smorgasbord laid out for the looker to choose from or reject. Appetite that is deeply rooted in an individual’s being – physical or emotional – gives rise to real pain when its satisfaction is not to hand. The things that satisfy or anesthetize the pain quickly become obsessions or addictions. Less-deeply rooted appetites become ‘-aholicisms’ – choc -, shop-, game-, etc.
One of the benefits of periodic selective ‘fasting’ is that it allows us to discover and assess the depth of our appetites. This is critically important for learning to love. Appetite, you see, rejects the idea of continuing in pain; it sees the suffering self as somehow victimized or deprived of what he needs to thrive. Love, by contrast, sees even the sufferer as empowered and enriched – with patience, with mercy, with humility, hope, etc. Again, fasting allows the person who deprives himself of whatever, allows himself to discover his own richness, rather than his needs – or, better, to discover the richness of love that cannot be diminished by ‘going without’ what satisfies appetite.
Dramatic fasting – like that of Jesus in the desert – teaches the faster the power of faith in God’s love to overcome even fast-induced weakness. This is not recommended for the faint of heart.
Here’s a thought; widowhood and abandonment, like celibacy allow one who has lost one love to find the power of love still at work in oneself, even as the heart breaks.
I’ll be brief this week, because there is a piece of business that needs publicizing.
Really and truly and celibately yours,