• Our next baseball games are: Thursday, March 7, at 3:00 PM, at Fairmont Prep [Fairmont Preparatory Academy 2200 W Sequoia Ave, Anaheim, CA 92801].
It is quite common that as we approach the beginning of Lent (it begins this Wednesday) people start thinking about what they want to “give up” for the Lenten Season—some give up desserts, others give up watching television, and so on. And this is good; we should take on some extra penitential practices for the next 40 days in order to prepare ourselves for Easter. This aids us in rooting out our old vices and helps us make reparation for our past sins. But even an amateur gardener knows that rooting out the weeds is only the first stage to having a fruitful garden. In addition to clearing the soil one actually needs to plant something new, otherwise you’ll have nothing but dirt.
And so it is with our spiritual life. St. Paul tells us today what exactly it is we must plant, so to speak, in our souls as we weed out all our old sinful ways. It is charity—the love of God and love of neighbor. We all know this, but we need to remind ourselves of it every so often, especially as Lent begins.
St. Thomas Aquinas defines charity as the virtue by which we will the good of another. It is by charity that we desire good for another person and work for it at least to some degree. Now this might sound a bit technical and uninspiring; when we love someone, God included, we don’t find ourselves worrying about whether we will their good or not, it just sort of happens. Remembering the definition of charity is important, however, when it concerns people for whom we don’t have the warmest feelings, like our enemies.
The obligation of loving our enemies often poses a difficulty even for good Catholics, not so much because they do not want to try to follow this teaching of our Lord, but because they don’t know how to go about it. “I still have angry feelings about so-and-so.” We often say. Or, “I can’t ever be that person’s friend.” Faced with such emotions we’re inclined to think that we will never be able to love our enemies. Sometimes it just seems simply impossible. It is when we’re face with such thoughts that we should call to mind the real definition of charity: to will the good of another, to wish them good. Can we, we need to ask ourselves, at least pray for our enemy? Do we at least hope that that person will be saved, despite our present feelings? If so, if we can at least get ourselves to pray for that person, in particular for their eternal salvation, then in fact we do love them, though it might not feel like it, and though our love might me at that point only the bare minimum; but it’s a good start.
Christ does not ask us to love our enemies insofar as they are our enemies, in other words insofar as they stands for something contrary to us, and insofar as they are against our own well-being. A soldier standing face to face with an armed enemy is not obliged to lay down his gun and go give him a big hug. The soldier has the right and even the duty to defend himself and his country; but the soldier, while hating the enemy as an enemy can still have charity for that person insofar as he is a creature of God, redeemed by the blood of Christ. He can, and should pray for the eternal welfare of that person. This is not always easy to do, but it certainly is possible, and it is necessary for our own salvation that we at least pray for our enemies.
In today’s Gospel our Blessed Lord foretells to His Apostles that He will be mocked, scourged, spat upon and killed. And while we can be sure that Christ did not approve of such evil, to put it lightly, we can also be sure that He continued to pray for and desire the salvation of even those who would be His persecutors. Forgive them Father, He said from the Cross, for they know not what they do.
As we continue this Holy Mass, pray for an increase in charity, pray for a greater love for God and man, even your enemies. And as you undertake your Lenten penances and mortifications, as you tear out, so to speak, your old vices, do not forget to replace it with the greatest virtue of all—charity.
• For all the benefactors of St. Michael’s Preparatory School, living and deceased.
• For all the students and families of St. Michael’s Preparatory School.
• For all faculty and staff of St. Michael’s Preparatory School.
• For the Sturkie Family’s very special intention.
• For the health of Josephine White.
• For the Church.