Does God Really Love *You*?

Does God Really Love *You*? June 20, 2015

A reader writes:

I have a genuine theological question and I was hoping someone here could help me with this because I really don’t know the answer. The question is, why do people say “Christ died for me” or “Christ died for you?” How can any of us matter than much individually? I mean, hypothetically speaking, if you or me had never been born, wouldn’t He have still died for all the other people? How can anyone believe that Christ died for any of us personally as opposed to collectively? I’m not trying to be cute; I’m confused.

Because you are not a statistic. You are a person and God loves each of us personally. Christianity is not about generalities or statistical probabilities, but about the love of God for each and every person. God, being infinite and omniscient, can do that kind of thing. This is what Jesus is getting at when he says that the very hairs of your head are numbered. You–you personally–are precious to him.

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  • I love the story in Genesis 18 of Abram pleading with God for Sodom. Abram asks God if He would spare the city for the sake of 50 righteous people there, then 45, then 40, and so on down to 10 – and every time, God says “yes.” And so rather than asking, “Wouldn’t Christ have still died for all those other people if I’d never been born?”, I ask, “If the Lord knew that I was the only person for all time who would accept the salvation that He made possible – would He still have undergone everything He did?” And the staggering answer, as I understand it, is “yes.”

  • WesleyD

    “And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Gal 2:20)

    “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. From
    now on there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the
    Lord, the righteous judge, will give me on that day, and not only to me
    but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
    ” (2 Tim 4:7-9)

  • FrogLeg

    I know several people that resolve the theodicy problem by saying that God loves mankind, not individuals. I don’t find that satisfying, but the alternatives are equally unsatisfying. Hmm…..

    • sez

      God loves mankind AND He loves each of us, individually. Not sure if that (or anything!) ever fully satisfies the theodicy problem, though.

  • Jim

    The mere fact you exist is proof God loves you. Love is to will the good for something. Causing the existence of being via the act of supernatural creation is the willing and doing of an infinite act of good for a creature since you cannot create yourself. If God did not love you then He would not will good for you and thus He would not will for you the good of real existence. Thus God really loves all His Creatures & the question is how much love does He offer you and how much will you by Grace freely accept?

    The answer is He has offered you Himself (in addition to creating you) and if you accept Him you have Goodness Itself. If you reject Him you have privation of Goodness Itself otherwise known as Hell.

    It is that simple.

    • Alma Peregrina

      I’m not the OP, but this also confuses me.

      You say that the mere act of creating me is an act of love of God. However, if I go to Hell, then it would better if I wasn’t born (Jesus even said so about Judas).

      I can’t understand how creating a person that will go to Hell (even if that was chosen wilfully) is an act of love versus not creating that same person.

      • Bear Fact

        If you could see clearly how people destined for hell are living in this life, it would be apparent to you that hell is a giant step up.

        • Alma Peregrina

          1) That doesn’t answer my concerns (namely, wouldn’t it be more loving to not create those persons in the first place?)

          2) Do you believe that ALL people destined to Hell are living in a hell today? I think many people destined to Hell are having an awesome lifetime!

          • Bear Fact

            Maybe the only difference between those destined for hell, and those living in hell, is that the damned are aware of their condition, and are no longer in a position to screw it up any more.

            Whether it’s better to have never been created can only be known by God, and since he’s all-good, I think we can leave it up to his discretion.

            • Alma Peregrina

              The “We-don’t-know-but-God-knows-best” answer is not satisfying for people struggling with this.

              If someone doesn’t feel loved by God, saying that we can leave it up to His discretion because He is all-good is a petitio principii. A person that doesn’t believe to be loved by God doesn’t think that He is all-good, otherwise that person would be loved by Him.

              • Bear Fact

                If someone doesn’t feel loved by God, it’s usually because the chain of communication has been interrupted by greed or superstition. I think that’s what was meant by the cave drawings in Santa Cruz:

                https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRPmIZSYsJ7RYF9Zxcm-wNjblErCcs_4Ngi25OKh5Pn6dGKdMHAuA

                • Alma Peregrina

                  If someone doesn’t feel loved by God, such comments are really unhelpful.

                  And I don’t see why paleolithic paintings of a lot of hands are really relevant. For all it’s worth, it could symbolize Mankind high-fiving God.

                  • sez

                    If we all actually felt loved by God, where would faith be?

                    If someone doesn’t feel loved by God, that person should be encouraged to pray, asking for the gift of faith. Typically, it is after the submission to His will that one gets the consolation.

                    • Doyle

                      Agreed. Submission is, after all, submission to the Truth. You must acknowledge reality to reap the spiritual rewards of that come with recognizing the reality that your very existence is held in existence by God. Frank Sheeds Theology for Beginners has some great passages that do abetter job than I am. 2.99 on Kindle. http://www.amazon.com/Theology-Beginners-F-J-Sheed/dp/0892831243

                    • Alma Peregrina

                      “If we all actually felt loved by God, where would faith be?”

                      Thank you for this response. It makes sense. But your logic goes even further, unfortunately. You say that typically he/she who submits to His will gets consolation. But some mystics will reply: If we felt consolation all the time we submit to His will, then where would faith be? It would be a selfish act.

                      God witholds all pleasures, all consolations, everything from the suffering person, in order for he/she to exercise his/her faith. This makes more sense to me than many well-meaning commenters that say things that go against my personal experience like: “You only find happiness if you submit to God”; or “You’ll feel loved by God if you stop sinning”; or “People that reject God think they’re happy, but deep, deep, deep down, they’re not”

                      Of course, your answer also begets many questions regarding why faith is so important that God would make people go through such hardships. But I don’t want to derail the thread away from the theme of God’s love, which is my prime concern.
                      *********************************************
                      Since your answer was very informative, I kindly ask you to say what you think regarding God’s love by creating someone who’s destined to Hell versus not creating him/her at all.

                    • sez

                      You’re right, of course: consolation is not guaranteed. God gives to each according to what He knows is best.
                      ***********
                      If we were all destined for Heaven, then where would faith be?

                    • Alma Peregrina

                      “If we were all destined for Heaven, then where would faith be?”

                      You’re, again, right. But again, we’re shifting our attention from my main concern (God’s love, even for someone who’s destined to Hell) into other themes (the need to have faith).

                    • sez

                      OK – I hear ya (finally).

                      God’s knowledge about where we end up has no effect on our free will. He gives us life and free will out of His unfathomable love for us, even though we will misuse these gifts. He still sees value in giving the gifts, even if we don’t. This is one of those mysteries that will forever be less than satisfying.

                      But if we knew all the answers, what would be the point?

                    • Alma Peregrina

                      “This is one of those mysteries that will forever be less than satisfying.”

                      Yeah, I guess… but I had to try to see if anyone would know the answers I’m looking for. Guess I’ll have to continue searching, then.

                      Thank you for all your time and words.

              • Jim

                >If someone doesn’t feel loved by God, saying that we can leave it up to His discretion because He is all-good is a petitio principii. A person that doesn’t believe to be loved by God doesn’t think that He is all-good, otherwise that person would be loved by Him.

                We either choose to except the brute fact God loves as shown by philosophy/natural theology and divine revelation or we don’t and Our choice becomes Our reality. Feelings don’t really mean anything and should be subordinated to Truth and reason which should move the will. If I don’t “feel” loved by God at any moment(which happens a lot) I must accept that my feelings are not correct.

                God is All Good indeed it is better to say God is Goodness Itself rather then an isolate being who possesses goodness to the maximal degree better than anything else. But God is thus Metaphysically good and Ontological good and the source of all the good in things. But God has no obligations to us and thus God is not morally good. This statement can be misunderstood so it is better to say God is not a moral agent. It is even better to say God is not a moral agent unequivocally compared to human moral agents. Since God cannot be unequivocally compared to creatures. I would recommend reading the writings of Fr. Brian Davies on God and evil.

                It is very liberating to know when bad stuff happens to me that God given His nature doesn’t really owe me anything then to trick myself into believing God owes me something and resent Him for not giving it too me.

                • Alma Peregrina

                  Again, sorry for the lateness of my reply.

                  When I said that a person doesn’t “feel loved” by God, I’m not refering to “feelings” alone.

                  In fact, I laugh when atheists dogmatically proclaim that belief in God is not rational, and that theists rely on “feelings”. If “feeling” was all there was, I would have turned atheist a long time ago. Rather, it is my brain that keeps me on faith, not my heart. Because of theology and natural revelation, as you stated.

                  However, my brain also has difficulties.

                  Namely, my own experience.

                  If I said that I love a girl and then proceeded to do to her half of what God has done to me, an outsider would be justified in questioning my pledges of love to her. In fact, doing otherwise would be irrational.

                  So, it’s not merely “feelings”. It is hard to understand how God’s love can be so different from human perceptions of love, that God can lovingly do things that would rationally be construed as hateful.

                  And yes, I know the arguments of “a loving person sometimes has the duty to make the loved one suffer for his own good”.

                  But I also know the difference between constructive suffering and destructive suffering. And I know that a loving person would never make someone else suffer destructively.

                  And unfortunately, I’ve experienced that far too often, either in my life and in the life of others.

                  Natural theology, philosophy and divine revelation can only go so far against my experience before they seem mere abstractions detached from reality. Again, I insist, not from a purely emotional point of view, but from a rational point of view as well.

          • Doyle

            They may be experiencing pleasure, but not love. You can see it increasingly in media the “me as the measure of all things” isolation. In a mysterious way, you cannot love without He Who is love, even if you don’t consciously recognize His influence on you (yet). I think those people who “succeeded” in turning away from love are not having an awesome time at all. IDK, just my speculations.

          • Smithgift

            No one is destined to Hell per se (in a Calvinist double pre-destination sense.) But for those who are living in the darkness, I thought of this analogy: Drugs may taste far, far better than any food. But drugs do not feed you.

            I think there’s a subtle undercurrent to modern thought that the value of any human life can be determined by adding up all the pleasures and pains, and if the value is negative it’s a bad life. If this is the case, and drugs are bad, then it must logically follow that drugs cause more misery later than at the current moment. This is certainly generally true, but if someone dies of an overdose and never feels their screwed-up life, then what misery do they feel?

            Rather, I believe the truth that the value of human life is infinite, and that things that screw-up life, whether or not they are felt, are in a sense infinitely horrible.

            • Alma Peregrina

              That’s a good analogy, even though I still do not comprehend how is it possible to eat food, not do drugs and still feel something akin to starvation.

              But still, a good analogy.

              • Smithgift

                I’ve felt the same thing. Asaph has a similar sentiment in Psalm 73. From the NIV

                12 This is what the wicked are like—
                always free of care, they go on amassing wealth.
                13 Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure
                and have washed my hands in innocence.
                14 All day long I have been afflicted,
                and every morning brings new punishments.

                He goes on, a few verses later [about the wicked].

                18 Surely you place them on slippery ground;
                you cast them down to ruin.
                19 How suddenly are they destroyed,
                completely swept away by terrors!
                20 They are like a dream when one awakes;
                when you arise, Lord,
                you will despise them as fantasies.

                A Methodist pastor once preached on this subject, and I remember him saying sin does feel good, or otherwise people would not sin. The issue is the consequences.

                • Alma Peregrina

                  That is exactly how I’m feeling now.

                  And I do know of the Psalms. Sometimes those (and Job and Jeremiah) seem to be the parts of the Bible that really “get me”.

                  Thanks for sharing.
                  🙂

          • Des Farrell

            If the many hundreds of New Testament quotes that Gods love is limitless in every possible way are untrue then yes it would be better if you weren’t born just to suffer and die. If Gods love is as limited as our ability to love or to withhold love then yes he would just be another capricious, anthropomorphic old fool like Zeus. It is difficult to understand suffering (and death and hell) but really carefully reading what Jesus and the saints have to say on these subjects steadies the boat. Either they are all wrong and we reject Christianity and its message or they are on the right track and we can live with more hope and less angst. Just because we are a silly species it would be hasty to judge God’s love by our standards.

            Btw, many seem interested in whether they are going to heaven or hell but I’m fairly sure that most of us are actually going to purgatory! And that, in the end, is a good thing!

            • Alma Peregrina

              Good comment. Thank you.

      • anna lisa

        I always take comfort in the fact that Jesus said, “born” about Judas, and not “conceived”–Really, if you think about it, there is a world of difference. None of us earns our salvation, but most of us make a mess of things here and there. Judas made a stupendous one.

        It has always tugged at my heart that he threw the 70 pieces of silver back at them in horror over what he’d done. He didn’t exactly take the money and buy himself something to indulge his notorious greed. I like to think that when he hung himself in despair, it was because he wasn’t functioning with all of his faculties. The gospels tell us that Satan entered him. He was in a state of bondage. In order to commit a mortal sin, we have to choose that evil in a deliberate, calculating way, with our will free and unhindered.

        I’d like to think that someday Judas will have “paid the last farthing” and will be among the blessed in heaven.

      • Note that never being born is not precisely the same as never being created. A subtle distinction, but significant I think.

      • Jim

        This is a bit late.

        >You say that the mere act of creating me is an act of love of God. However, if I go to Hell, then it would better if I wasn’t born (Jesus even said so about Judas).

        “For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.” 2 Peter 2:21

        In a like manner it would have been better for Judas to die in his mother’s womb then to be born and choose evil. But Judas had sufficient grace that was truly sufficient thus Heaven was a real possibility for Judas so He is without excuse.

        >I can’t understand how creating a person that will go to Hell (even if that was chosen wilfully) is an act of love versus not creating that same person.

        Only if Calvinism was true. See Thomas Aquinas. God created everyone for Heaven. God is not obligated to create anybody in the first place. God is not obligated to NOT create you even if He foresees you or anybody else will abuse their free will and unjustly and with malice reject His free offer of Heaven y Grace. God could have made a better world then the one He has made now but there is no world so good God is obligated to make it and none so bad as long as it partakes of being, God should refrain from making it.

        In a like manner God is not obligated to not create someone just because they will freely resist His Grace. The mere act of giving them being is in itself an infinite act of good. It’s not like the damned have nothing good at all being damned even ultimately no being. Rather they have the good of being even they lack by their own wicked choice the gift of the Beatific Vision and actively feel that loss.

        If we believe Frank Sheed even the damned who choose to love themselves above God would resist loosing the last good thing they have. Themselves and their being. So they would not by nature consent to non-existence if offered it. Had they never existed in the first place then they truly would have had nothing to loose.
        Also iIf I believe Meister Eckhart then even the damned can after a time take some very very small delight in their being even in Hell. Existence is the one unconditional gift God gives all his spiritual creatures.

        • Alma Peregrina

          This reply is also a bit late, for which I apologize.

          I am glad that you explained elsewhere what you really meant about “God not being obligated to…”. You are correct that that statement could be (and almost was) misunderstood. But since God is not a moral agent, He can’t owe anything as much as I can’t go norther than the North Pole.

          However, even though God doesn’t owe anything to His creatures, I think that He “owes” something to Himself. Namely, He can’t contradict His nature.

          So God, being perfect Reason, can’t create a trilateral square.
          God, being Truth, can’t lie.
          God, being Ultimate Goodness, can’t do evil.

          In the same way, God, being Love itself, can’t do anything unloving.

          It is in that context that I ask: how can a loving God create someone if that person is destined to Hell, instead of not creating him/her at all? Not because of what God “owes” or not to that person… but in light of God’s loving nature, how is it possible?
          *******************************************
          The objection you raise to this concern of mine is that Existence is intrinsically good. Again, this is my point of contention. You justify your point with teachings about the damned clinging to their existence, even in Hell.

          I have some questions that seem to counter this:

          1) My own experience. I would rather choose not to exist instead of Hell. Without hesitation.

          2) Atheists that commit suicide choose (or they think they do) non-existence instead of a hellish life. If they do so to escape a temporary Hell in their lives, why wouldn’t they do so to escape an eternal Hell?

          3) Free will. Apologists often justify the evils perpetrated by men in this World with free will. God, having given them free will, cannot withold it from them when they choose evil.

          So must I believe that God created men that choose evil, but didn’t create men that choose the Ultimate Evil (according to your comment), which allegedly is non-existence? Not a single soul would choose it? Where’s free will, then?

          4) You say in another comment that we shouldn’t focus on “feelings”, but rather on reason. But you justify the intrinsical goodness of Existence with feelings of the damned.

          The damned don’t want to leave existence? So does that make Existence good? No, it only makes existence desirable to the damned. But I’m more interested in rational arguments explaining why Existence in Hell is better than Non-Existence, rather than relying in what the damned wish or not.

          5) Non-existence doesn’t have to be real. It can be virtual. If God did something akin to an eternal anestesia, the damned wouldn’t suffer, and they wouldn’t cease to exist either.

  • Bear Fact

    That God loves each person individually is more a theological statement than an anthropological one. As human beings we experience at first hand how difficult it is to love even one or a few persons. How great is God who loves us all.

  • Sue Korlan

    I think that God loves each one of us. An analogy is a young man asking a young woman out. If he truly loves her he is going to respect her even if she says no. Hell is simply living the no we said to God in this life. He still loves us enough to let us say no for all eternity.

    • Alma Peregrina

      The analogy fails, since that man created that woman with the sole purpose of being with him… and if said woman says no, she will know unlimited suffering, without the ability to find another man to be with and be happy.

      In other words, he created that woman to not be happy unless she says “yes” to him.

      Her “no” is, in fact, punished… and severely punished.

      Doesn’t that make it seem like he doesn’t respect her “no” at all?

      PS: Personal real story here: I loved a girl, and gave her all I got. Then she rejected me and I respected her “no”. She is now happy with another guy. God will never respect a mortal’s “no” in that way. That makes me angry.

      • Smithgift

        But there can be no other “man.” There can only be one basis of reality, Love, and that part of us which longs for love can find it nowhere else.

        God did not create us and arbitrarily withhold some pleasurable emotion until we became friends with Him. Happiness isn’t an emotion, per se. Rather, the ultimate happiness of a rational being is in contemplating the Most Perfect, the transcendent Divine Essence of God. Nothing else will suffice for eternity.

        Hell, then, is not so much a place as a state. If we reject what God offers, Himself, what else can He offer? Some false world where happiness comes from somewhere else? But this is logically impossible, as one cannot directly contemplate God by contemplating some other thing instead.

        Yes, Hell is a punishment, and the natural sufferings of Hell are based on the evil that the damned soul did. But God cannot simultaneously allow a creature to choose and also not suffer the logically-necessary consequences of that choice.

        • Alma Peregrina

          “If we reject what God offers, Himself, what else can He offer?”

          Non-existence seems better than Hell. Instead of sending those that reject Him to Hell, He could simply make them disappear. Therefore they wouldn’t experience eternal happiness (since He is that happiness), but they wouldn’t experience eternal suffering either.

          • sez

            God doesn’t send anyone to Hell. People choose to go there, finding it preferable to eternity with God. I suspect it is pride that says: “I don’t need God.” or “Better to rule in Hell than serve in Heaven.”

            Fr. Larry Richards says that, at death, we are asked to choose what we want most, then God gives us that. If it isn’t “to be with You, Lord”, then we will be in the Hell of our own choosing. An example he gave was from high school kids who said they didn’t want to go to Heaven if there weren’t video games there. Fr. Larry predicted that, after a number of years, eternity with video games would be exceedingly dull, and that would be Hell.

            Here’s another take on people sending themselves to Hell:
            http://www.catholic.com/blog/michelle-arnold/the-line-at-the-gates

            • Alma Peregrina

              I know everything you explained… and I agree with it.

              But the choice I’m primarily concerned isn’t Heaven versus Hell. If that would be the choice, everything you said would make sense.

              But the choice I’m talking about is Existence versus Non-existence. As far as I know, no one was consulted whether they would want to come into existence into this world. God willed it, God did it and now we’re stuck with His decision.

              You said that God gives us what we want most. But God doesn’t give us the choice to cease to exist. That is ontologically impossible, since a soul, once begoten, is intrinsically immortal.

              So, I don’t think I’m really as free as you guys say God allows me to be.

              I’m haunted by this quote of Schopenhauer, the only atheist that has an argument that strikes me: “You can also look upon your life as an episode unprofitably disturbing the blessed calm of nothingness.”

              • Smithgift

                This resonates in a sense, because I have sometimes wished to never to have existed. However, if I did not exist, I could not complain about any justice or injustice to me, as there would be nothing to experience nothing. There is no blessed calm of nothingness.

                But supposing I did have a complaint about existing. Suppose God, being omniscient and just, would not create me if my existence would be unjust if He did do so. But those times I have wished to be nonexistent have passed, I hope, forever. Must God have never created me so that a few months ago I would never have wished that He never made me? But I am glad He created me now. Does t(1) me have more vote over the existence of t(0) me than t(2) me? It would seem odd to make such a claim.

                On that basis, considering some soul who might one day be damned but will go to heaven, must God not create him because of that potential? Do potential hells have vetoes over actual heavens? Or is the fact that a soul will eventually choose Hell mean that God must never create the soul and offer the opportunity of Heaven? Do actual hells have vetoes over potential heavens?

                I don’t know. My current theology hinges on God being incomprehensible, as He truly is. But I have faith he loves me, and you.

                • Alma Peregrina

                  That is a very good comment! One of the best counterarguments to Schopenhauer I’ve read! Very reasonable and well-articulated.

                  It does, however, assume that the t(2)-me exists (or will eventually exist) and that I will not be t(1)-me until my death. Otherwise I’m stuck with a potential Heaven that never materializes… a situation I can rationally accept is worth more than actual Hell, but that I can’t emotionally or spiritually accept.

                  As for the t(1), it’s not been a matter of months for me, but of years. Six years to be precise, in which I can count every single day on which I had some peace of mind (only 2,5 weeks in 6 years, I’m not exagerating). It takes a toll on ya, no matter how much faith you got in the beggining. Mother Theresa and John of the Cross were in the dark night until the very end and that scares the Hell outta (or into) me.

                  But the fact that you’ve had a similar experience and are now over with it gives me some hope. Thank you.

                  • Jim

                    I feel for you. I’ve been living in the dark night for decades. But when one is there it is really better to get away from your feelings and move toward an more intellectual approach to Faith.

                    That gives some consolation between the sparse times God intervenes and gives His own.

                    Speaking only for myself. I find it is better to get away from feelings and move toward the intellect and will.

                    It doesn’t solve everything but it makes it more bareable.

                    • Smithgift

                      I can vouch for this in my own way. Prior to reconverting to Christianity (and later to Catholicism) my “religion” held emotion as all important. When depression prevented me from manipulating my emotions to make my “religion” work, I became even more depressed and angry, and my “religion” worked even less. Seeking emotion is a good thing, but the Catholic religion does not require it. The Eucharist is God, no matter what anyone feels or imagines it to be.

                    • Jim

                      Good call and pray for me a sinner.

                      Positive religious Emotion is like seasoning or icing. It tastes nice and makes the food all the more pleasant but in and of itself it is not nourishment. You can still eat without it but don’t starve yourself if you don’t have it.

                      Emotions are a best a means but not an end in themselves. At worst a hinderance.

                      Cheers and God Bless.

                    • Alma Peregrina

                      Thank you for all your responses, Jim. And please, do not assume my replies to you are due to an urge to debate, but rather to comprehend. I have many questions that seem unanswerable… and I understand that many questions can only be answered by God and not by you, unfortunately.

                      But if you can help me to learn and understand within your possibilities, I’ll be much thankfull.

                      And this is especially important from people that have gone through this path I’m in. Even though I don’t think I’m in the dark night anymore… I think I’m more on the verge of losing my faith altogether.

                      My intelectual approach to faith is what’s keeping me, so it is frustrating when well-meaning people tell me that I have to “crucify my reason and just believe”. No, what I need is to make sense of stuff. I know I can’t ask for everything, but I’ll take anything anyone may offer.

                  • Smithgift

                    I’m glad I could help. I’ve had depression/bipolar since twelve, and I’m twenty-three now, through 10+ medicines, two psych ward visits, two therapists, more darkness than I want to think about… And, of course, there’s always the lingering fear that it is coming back. Sometimes it does.

                    I think there is a t(2)-you, or Christ would not have died on the Cross. What t(2) is I cannot say, because I certainly couldn’t have imagined my current state, both good and bad. In some sense the bad is worse, but on the other the good is greater, in the same way that in a brighter lighter the shadows are more distinct–but also weaker.

                    Having also been through this, I know the waterfall of unasked-for advice that people dump, and even that gets tiresome. So please ignore this if you don’t want to hear any more. The thing that has done the most to heal my heart, to un-callous it as it were, is drinking holy water. I read recently it was a practice in the Eastern churches, and I felt God’s call, yesterday night, to try it. I have now felt emotions other than sadness* for the first time in a long while.

                    * I had realized that my only emotional response to anything moving was to be sad about it, even things that would make me happy. I could still tell things apart, like in a black-and-white television of one color, or those old gameboys. But emotions like caring and being happy when something cared-for went right had been long absent.

                    The healing of depression is a gradual process, I should say. I do not know what t(3)-me will be like, but I trust that God has things in store that I cannot even imagine; wonderful as in full of wonders. Even this present state is a kind of t(3). Up until recently, though I was emotionally stable for long, I still hurt from some childhood incidents that I could not even think about without suffering severe pain. It was only recently that I prayed to God and He healed me, such that the only pain I feel when I think about it is physical aches and pains. And yet I had been praying for years, and it was only now that it happened, and I do not know why.

                    • Smithgift

                      Addendum: I also was moved by Mother Eugenia’s Message from the Father, and one of those movements, when the Father talks about the fountain of life-giving water gushing forth from His Breast, was to drink the holy water.

                    • Alma Peregrina

                      Smithgift: Again, much thanks for your comments. And thank you for understanding my frustration about unwanted advices… but I really appreciate those advices from you and thank you for all the time you have spent on me, even though you have your own problems.

                      I’m sorry about your psychological background. I know I can’t understand it, because I have no psychological depression… my depression is purely spiritual.

                      But your comments give me hope, and that’s what I’m needing the most right now.

                    • Smithgift

                      A significant part of my depression was/is spiritual in nature. Both of those hospital stays had to do with a theological question. The second stay was when I realized I would kill myself if the question–whether people’s beatitude is based on getting every action in life perfect–turned out a certain way*. I checked myself in after that.

                      At the same time, my life significantly improved after going on mood stabilizers, and going to much counseling. I think there’s a blurring there. Psych comes from the word for Soul in Greek, after all. If you aren’t looking into potential psychological causes, I’d recommend trying it. You’d have nothing to lose.

                      * I realized, in truth, the question “What if I chose differently, and therefore was happier/less happy in Heaven?” may not have a sensical answer. If St. Augustine had not fathered a son by his mistress, his son would never have existed at all. I think God can use our mistakes, too, to give us greater happiness in Heaven. If we do make mistakes, our happiness may not be lost forever. Maybe God could even find a way to make it greater.

              • sez

                You’re right: we don’t get to choose non-existence. We also don’t get to choose our parents, our birthplace, the era in which we are born, and any number of other things. Cuz we’re not in charge.

                We do, however, get to choose what we do with what we’ve been given. Living a life of gratitude, seeking God’s will, and doing what we can with what we’ve got – in these are happiness sufficient for now. And, in eternity, we’ll get all the answers we seek, and want for nothing.

                Desiring oblivion is the opposite of gratitude. That will lead to unhappiness now, and worse in eternity. (I reject the concept of “the blessed calm of nothingness”. If you never existed, you can’t experience blessedness or calm.)

                Christ died to save us, offering us a share in His divinity.
                If we were given the choice of eternity with God or oblivion of non-existence, that would cheapen the gift.

                These are the rules we’ve been given. Let’s not be wishing they were something other than what they are, but be thankful for the gift of life and everything else He deigns to give us, out of His incomprehensible and infinite love.

                • Alma Peregrina

                  Your comment, similar to Jim’s below (which started this debate) assumes that the mere act of existing is positive (or, as you put it, a gift). However, that’s the very premise that’s being disputed.

                  As for rejecting the concept of “blessed calm of nothingness”, you are right that if someone doesn’t exist, he will never experience blessedness nor calm. But people who reject this quote on that basis are doing the same as atheists who reject Genesis because of talking snakes. They are focusing on linguistic artifices and not seeing the big picture, the message that’s being conveyed.

                  I really liked Smithgift’s reply down there. I think it satisfies most of my concerns.

      • Sue Korlan

        I think the analogy holds. People choose wealth and power and status instead of Love, which is Who scripture says God is. And in the end they can’t love, which is what God requires of us. Those other things are the guys you chose instead. As Paul said, idols are really demons. If you choose them you end up with them forever.

  • Caroline

    God loves us, each one, but doesn’t he love some of us more and some of us less? Isn’t our real problem a picture of God going around from all eternity saying: “A, I love you, but less than B” and “B, I love you, but less than C” and so on. Imagine treating your children like that, or at least if you felt that way, not having the grace to conceal it, and yet isn’t this loving with invidious distinction for all eternity the way we are conditioned, I hate to say it, but by the Church to think of God?

    • anna lisa

      I don’t think God loves one child more than the next. I can almost grasp this in a small way, when I consider my children. Each one is very different. Some gravitate to spending time with us more and others a bit less. The ones that give us special tenderness endear themselves to us particularly, but really, we don’t love them more than the ones that are a bit more standoff-ish. They are each utterly unique and totally loved by their parents.

      St. Faustina had some interesting things to say on this topic. She spoke of seeing a kind of heaven where there is a profound intimacy that not all of the blessed in heaven will experience. She saw this in vision, (of course visions are in no way dogma), but does it stand to reason that those who sought God daily, seeking his presence in intimate union, will continue to partake of that intimacy in heaven? Even the people who experienced the dark night of the soul experienced this, as a kind of intimacy with Christ. Mother Teresa spent her life in union with Jesus, *but* in that profound moment of darkness, when Jesus, in agony, said “I thirst”. She identified completely with those words and lived in *solidarity* with them. I have heard that the last words that Saint John Paul spoke on this earth were”…how long long have I sought you!”
      My thought is that those who sought to live continually in intimate relationship will experience the continuation of this in heaven.

      Anyway, my take-away is that God will fill each one totally and completely without favoritism. Maybe the ones that have suffered the most for others will have the greatest capacity to be filled? I’ve heard it said that every time our heart breaks/suffers in the service of love, it enlarges our hearts a little bit more. I can’t remember which saint said it, but he would beg God incessantly to give him a bigger heart until it was big enough to fit the entire world inside.

      • Marthe Lépine

        On the other hand, would Purgatory purify each one of us to the point where we would be seeking to live continually in intimate relationship? Then, obviously, those who would have received the grace to live that way during their earthly life would experience the continuation of this in Heaven, while others, probably most of us, would have to undergo some purification first before entering into that experience? Note that I am just asking a question, I have no idea of what is awaiting us…

        • anna lisa

          I love that thought Marthe–that each one of us would be purified to the point of perfect love, and a complete perfect love that is equal–whether it takes place here, or in the next life.

          Like you–I don’t know–All I know is that I love my children equally, despite their faults. That gives me hope.

          I don’t know either(and I’d make a lousy mystic), but I can tell you have a big heart –What matters more than that?

          “Eyes have not seen, nor ears have heard what God has prepared for those who love him…”

          Really, the little flower has on occasion annoyed me a bit with her floweriness, but I’m totally in her camp when she said, “look God, here it all is, I don’t have an account because I’m giving it away–even if it’s small and laughable.”

          And she died at 24–As a Dr. of the Church.
          Hope!

    • capaxdei

      Yes, God loves some of us more and some of us less. Which is to say, He loves each of us with a perfect love.

  • Anna

    I think it’s just phrased the wrong way around. That is, instead of “if I’d never existed, Jesus would have still died for all the other people,” it should be “even if I were the only person, Jesus still would have done *all* that – just for me.”
    Sort of like, sure, my marriage would still exist if we didn’t have each of our children. But it would be a poverty if any one of them were missing; they aren’t just part of the collective “family” and who cares who’s a member of that family.

    • Irksome1

      Except, that phrasing is possibly inaccurate. When explaining the doctrine of the Elect, Jimmy Akin opined that Christ died directly for some and only indirectly for everybody else. Akin used the example of a passenger train that was in jeopardy; Jesus saves the train, and everyone on it, even though He was primarily concerned with His favorites. If this illustration is compatible with Catholic thought, then one can’t say that Christ would have died for only one individual, since the illustration Akin used implies He may not have.

      • Marthe Lépine

        For some reason, that does not sound right to me, but I could not say why. However, would that “doctrine of the Elect” just be a remnant from Protestant thinking?