Friday, July 9, 2010

Perfection: Joined in Love

Love involves a union.  Between lovers there is a mutual  penetration of energies. This penetration is not imposed by force.  It is mutual and received with joy. The one loved is absorbed by the one who loves yet remains independent.  Love is experienced as a unity of free individuals.

Fr Dimitru Staniloae writes,
In love I don't only live myself or by myself, but also my neighbor or by my neighbor, without his ceasing to be a subject independent from me.  This means, nevertheless that I don't have him as an object of mine, as a part of my individuality, but in a free relationship.... he becomes more intimate to me than anything which I possess; I see him penetrating more deeply in me that anything, and I penetrate him more than anything which he has.
There is a substitution of egos that takes place between two lovers.  One ego takes the place of the other.  There is no absorption of the other but a going out of oneself.  The other becomes ones center of life.

This is the nature of our union with God.  It is what is meant when Saint Paul says, "I live, and yet not I but Christ lives in me."  When we love God we no longer possess our own life but now possess His life.

Christian love is the opposite of pride.  We no longer think only of ourselves and are only satisfied when the other is also satisfied.  Love is based on humility.

Fr. Dimitru wrties,
So love is realized when two subjects meet each other in a full, mutual experience, in their qualities as subjects, that is without the reciprocal reduction of each other to the state of objects, but revealing themselves to each other to the maximum, as subjects; nevertheless with all this they give themselves to each other with complete freedom.  Love penetrates two subjects reciprocally in their intimacy... By love you penetrate into the intimacy of your neighbor... without annihilating or belittling him...  The more I love him the more he reveals himself to me.
This is the nature of our desired relationship with God, our union with Him.  A mutual penetration of our love while not being assumed into him but free to act.  We live in Him and He lives in us.  Though this coupling in love we are able to voluntarily link our will with His.  Our energies co-penetrate.  His energy flows through us.

Next: Love demands asceticism and prayer.

Reference: Orthodox Spirituality, pp 310 - 316

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