Willing Love

Father Cassilly writes: “Love is an act of the will, and the will, like any other faculty, has its own proper object. As sounds are perceived by the ear and colors by the eye, as the intellect assents to truth, so the will finds rest in the good. Of its very nature it loves what is good and hates what is evil. It cannot love evil as such. Evil may masquerade as good and so deceive the will into a false love, and what is good may deck itself in so attractive a garb as to beget an intemperate or inordinate desire of it. But good in some shape or form is ever the proper object of love. And the love of friendship is no exception to this rule. In natural friendship we base our good-will to another on his own goodness, we give him our love because we consider him worthy of it.”

“One may esteem and love you highly, and yet, if you are not aware of his sentiments, you are not properly his friend; and even when you learn his attitude toward you, you still give him no right to call you friend, until you accept his offering of affection and let him know that you reciprocate it. Friendship, then, is a mutual love, and though called forth by the consideration of another’s worth it remains free in the giving. . . . You cannot bind or halter, command or purchase it. Of its essence it is a free gift and unpurchasable.”

“Since love consists in so close a riveting of hearts, it would seem natural to conclude that it flourishes best between equals. St. Jerome does not hesitate to say that ‘friendship either finds equals or makes them.’ Where no interest, pursuit or similarity of taste exists in common, it is evident that nothing serves to draw the wills together. . . . Men closely bound by friendship’s tie ordinarily feel so keenly the chafing of inequality that the superior strives to keep his own eminence in the background, and at the same time to elevate his friend, as near as may be, to his own station. Thus we read in Scripture that King Alexander, wishing to make Jonathan, the valiant brother of Judas Machabeus, his confederate and friend, appointed him high priest of his nation and sent him a purple robe and a crown of gold to raise him to a dignity worthy of a king’s friend (1 Mc 10:20).”

Quotations from Francis Cassilly, A Story of Love, 2d ed. (St. Louis: B. Herder, 1917).

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Sayings of Catholic saints and sages: spiritual food for meditation and reflection.
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