Thursday, February 18, 2010

Quotation: Basil Cardinal Hume

We have been told that we must love God. "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart and with thy whole soul and with thy whole mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And the second is like to this: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself" (Mt 22:37-39). The spiritual lives of too many people are based on fear. Now I would not wish to minimise the importance of a wholesome filial fear of God. Fear of hell is, on occasions, no bad motive for avoiding sin. Furthermore, our task is to be pleasing to God and this means that we must keep the commandments, and do what He expects of us. Morality is important, and not only as an end in itself. It should be the test of our intent to love God and serve Him. We should be fearful lest in breaking His law we displease Him. There can be no serious spiritual life which ignores obedience to God. That is evident.

It would, however, be an impoverished spiritual life which was not based on trying to love God. After all, that is the first commandment. Fear is an exhausting emotion. Love must cast out fear, eventually. But I believe that it takes most of us quite a long time to learn about the love of God. It dawns slowly.

Cardinal Basil Hume, Ash Wednesday meditation in Daily Readings in Catholic Classics, ed. Fr. Rawley Myers (Ignatius, 1992), p. 323