“With this water I would extinguish the fires of Hell, and with this torch, I would destroy the Heavens, that henceforth God might no longer be served from fear of Hell, or hope of Heaven, but solely for love” (Strength in Simplicity, pp. 38-39).
This was said by a woman whom a Dominican Friar met when he was on a pilgrimage in Palestine. When I read this, I was struck by how beautiful it was. It’s certainly something worth thinking about. And, forced to examine my conscience, I find that, very often, I don’t serve Him just for His sake; instead, I serve Him out of my hope of being the greatest saint ever to walk the earth (ha ha) or out of fear of His just punishments.
Serving God out of love is a challenge because it requires us to surrender completely to His Will for us—with no hope of reward. In a world of give and take, that can be very difficult. It can be hard to desire that we do what He wants purely for the sake that He is our loving God.
It is a challenge that requires all of us—our minds, hearts, wills. It is a work that will never be finished, not until the day that God calls us gently to Himself. It is a challenge that requires courage, that virtue by which we stand fast in the face of difficulties; humility, in order to accept the will of God above our own; hope, to sustain us in our many trials; and above all, love, the greatest of all virtues, in order that we may serve God with our whole being and serve our neighbor with the greatest compassion.
God wants courageous soldiers to serve Him in a world of pain and sorrow. He wants handmaidens to pray with our Lady in order that His mercies might pour down on a world that needs them so desperately. God wants to help us, but we need to be willing to be His instruments of peace and love. If we choose to say no, then chaos will continue to reign in this world.
But if we dare to say yes, dare to lose ourselves completely, then anything is possible. After all, that’s what being a Catholic is all about—being open to what the world deems impossible. It is about walking on the straight path among crooked ones. It is about dressing modestly and talking cleanly. It is about daring to be different, unclassified, in a world that desperately wants to stuff us into convenient little categories.
And a note on those categories. We weren’t created to be the same. We were created to be unique, special, beautiful. You and I together make a more beautiful world than two of you or (yikes) two of me. The world is a potluck of people, ideas, and cultures. And that what makes it so beautiful—you being you, me being me, serving God purely out of love.
So this is my challenge to you. Tomorrow, do one thing, just one, purely out of love for God. Offer it up as a gift purely out of love, like child would give to his father. Then increase that number of acts of love. You may find that it is a road that leads you closer to God than any other.
De Gibergues, Emmanuel. Strength in Simplicity. Sophia Institute Press, 2000. Print.