“To fall in love with God is the greatest romance; to seek him the greatest adventure; to find him, the greatest human achievement.”-St. Augustine of HippoSoon-to-be-Saint Pope John Paul II reminded us in his Theology of the Body audiences that love is given freely, faithfully and totally, and that it is fruitful. For married couples, the most evident fruit is the birth of children, but it also reaps spiritual rewards. Some are visible on earth, but others are the kinds of treasures Our Lord speaks of in the Sermon on the Mount: those stored in Heaven that never fade or rot.
I think that St. Augustine clearly dwelt on the first letter of St. John, chapter 4.
7 Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God, and he who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 He who does not love does not know God; for God is love.Loving one another unconditionally is a common theme in today's pop Christianity. This is most evident with the charge for homosexual rights. But we must love within God's framework. This framework is God's existence. "I am Who I am." Omnia cum Deo, Nihil sine Eo.
We must love homosexuals because they are created in the image and likeness of God. But we must hate the sins (and all sin too!) they commit because they are outside of God.
Sin is, as I learned in CCD class, turning our back on God. And mortal sin empties our soul of salvific grace.
Why then would we wish to deny anyone salvation by promoting evil? Why would we wish to take away He who is all-Good, and instead give them something evil and disgusting?
St. Paul gives us these words as a trail-marker in his letter to the Philippians, chapter 4, verse 8.
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.These things are of God, and will aid us in our salvation, however indirectly.
And as to what Christian love is? 1 Corinthians 1:13 remains the most excellent Scriptural definition. We must work at perfecting this love, as St. John instructs us in his epistle.
Now why must love come through Jesus Christ? Why can't we love and be good people, no matter what our religion?
The Catholic Church teaches that we should promote as good and true whatever is good and true in other religions or philosophical systems. For example, most of Confucian thought is true in the Catholic moral theology. But the source of that goodness and truth is Our Father, who art in Heaven, who sent His only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. (1 Jn 4:9).
He created us, and so we must go back to Him. And we cannot do this without grace. The source of grace in the New Covenant is the sacraments instituted by Jesus Christ. Who is the guardian of the sacraments and the faith? That would be the Church, led by Peter.