Growing up, my religious education was limited to an hour each week in Sunday school, being drilled in answers to questions in the Catholic catechism. I remember most vividly the one that says, “We must love God with our whole body, our whole mind and our whole soul.”
I loved my family; I loved my dog, Whitey and my cat, Charcoal; I loved my aunt’s cherry tree, where I perched on its branches and gorged myself on its sweet fruit. I loved the place we called “Robinhood,” where we played kickball in the meadow, and a stream ran through it, where I floated on an inner tube on hot summer afternoons. Then at 16, I fell in love and that awakened me to the fact that life is a journey of not only love, but loss as well.
And thus as I matured I began to struggle with my obligation to love God with my whole body, my whole mind, and my whole soul. It bothered me that I did not feel that I loved God like I was supposed to. I had no trouble praying to Mary and Jesus, and when I think about it, that is probably because they lived and I could relate to them as PEOPLE. But God?? Our Father who art in heaven?? I pondered and worried about that my whole life. And trust me, at my elderly age that’s a long time!Now as I carefully read through Fr. Seán O’Laoire’s “Eucharistic Prayer of the Cosmos” which we read every Sunday during the liturgy at Companions on the Journey, I notice that we HONOR God, PRAISE God and ask for AWAKENING. Nowhere do we say we LOVE God. I found this curious. Yet we say that God is LOVE…
Then another tenant from the Catechism came to mind: we are made in the image and likeness of God. And so I connected the dots with our obligation to love God, and therein lay the solution to MY problem.
I figure that since God is love and is in and around us, having made us in his own image and likeness, and because I love all the things in God’s creation which are in and around me, then I can truly say that I do LOVE God.
I guess for some it’s a simple concept, but it was long in coming to MY doubting and questioning mind. I am not without “heart,” but I am ruled by my intellect – and God is not in the intellect. God is in the heart.