Thursday, June 13, 2019

How to Love God with Our Whole Heart

When Jesus tells us to love God with our whole heart, what does He mean? 

Theodore the Ascetic answers in this way:
Whatever a man loves, he desires at all costs to be near continuously and uninterruptedly, and he turns himself away from everything that hinders him from being in contact and dwelling with the object of his love. It is clear therefore that he who loves God also desires always to be with Him and to converse with Him. This comes to pass in us through pure prayer. Accordingly, let us apply ourselves to prayer with all our power; for it enables us to become akin to God. Such a man was he who said: O God, my God, to You I rise early at dawn; my soul has thirsted for You (Ps 63:1). For the man who cries to God at dawn has withdrawn his intellect from every vice and clearly is wounded by divine love. (From Theodore the Ascetic, Spiritual Chapters 94, Philokalia 2:35.) 
Truly loving God is all consuming. There is nothing more important. When we love God with our whole hear we long for the time of prayer. We never miss the opportunity to attend the Divine Liturgy to be in communion with Him to partake of Holy Communion. Prayer and Liturgy are the foundation of living an Orthodox way of life. Our love of God constantly draws us to seek to be close to Him. We will without hesitation make a sound prayer rule that we eagerly fulfill each day even if we are busy our tired. We arrange our work schedule so we can participate in the Divine Liturgies being offered in our community.

In Psalm 63 (LX 62) David expresses his love by saying, My soul has thirsted for You; how often my flesh has longed for you, in a desert land, parched and impenetrable.

We can only imagine the level of thirst one must experience when in the middle of a desert where water is rare and often quite distant. This intense thirst one would experience there is just like the intensity of our desire to be in communication and in Communion with Him when we love Him with our whole heart. Our intense love is the same as the thirst one would have in a desert land, parched and impenetrable.

Ref: Psalms and the Life of Faith by Aimilianos of Simonopetra, p4

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