Friday, January 28, 2011

THE OBLIGATION OF LOVE


In a 1940 letter, Dorothy Day, co-founder of the Catholic Worker, told of a story a friend had read in The Saturday Evening Post in which:

“a young girl is wildly in love with a wastrel until later on when this had been broken up and she had been married for a year to a man of good solid character, she ran into her former love again. She confessed to her husband that she had been afraid of meeting him for fear some of the old glamour remained, and she said to him: ‘Now I can see him as he is.’ And her husband, who must have been a man of great discernment, said to her very sadly: ‘Perhaps it was before that you were seeing him as he really is.’" "Or as he was meant to be," added Day.

Isn't that beautiful?

I’m reminded of this passage from Thomas Merton: “One reason I am so grateful for this morning’s sermon is that my worst and inmost sickness is the despair of every being able to truly love, because I despair of ever being worthy of love. But the way out is to be able to trust one’s friends and thus accept in them acts and things which a sick mind grabs as evidence of a lack of love—as pretexts for avoiding the obligation of love.”

I’m reminded of  Kirsten Arnesen Clay, the Lee Remick character in The Days of Wine and Roses who, by way of explaining why she can't or won't stop drinking, says: “...I want things to look prettier than they are”...

I’m reminded of Dostoevsky’s line about Paradise in "The Dream of a Ridiculous Man": “And not only in their songs but in all their lives they seemed to do nothing but admire one another.”

I think I am FINALLY done with that damn, I mean the blessed book I have been graced to write about my year-long walk with the literally sainted St. Thérèse of Lisieux. From whom, believe me, I have learned A LOT. Meanwhile, I'm off to Palm Springs tomorrow to stay for three days with my friend Christine who hails from Zermatt, Switzerland, and wears pointy Moroccan leather slippers, and has an orange tree in her backyard and...I'll give a full report!...

4 comments:

  1. You just gave me my morning juice. Have I told you lately that I love you?

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  2. Heather,
    I meant to post a comment a couple of weeks back when you posted that Dorothy Day had "given up Forster Batterham, the resolutely atheistic love of her life, because of his refusal to sanction the baptism of the child they’d conceived together, Tamar."

    When I read this, it reminded me of Charles Peguy, who reverted to the Catholicism of his childhood after being married to Charlotte-Françoise. When Peguy met Charlotte, he was a socialist atheist, and she had been raised atheist. She refused to allow the children to be baptized or have the marriage validated in the Church, and so his Catholic friends urged him to get an anullment. Instead, he remained faithful to his wife and lived Catholic without receiving the sacraments.....

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  3. Am detained by Merton's words. There is a type of love where the lover prays almost constantly (in the words of the old liturgy) non sum dignus -- I am not worthy. (Or maybe TM was writing about something different, and I'm reading my own thoughts into what he wrote!)

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  4. Why Danny--thank you!

    Fred--this is beautiful about Charles Peguy...when I was contemplating my own divorce (we'd been married by a JP, before I converted), a priest friend pointed out the passage in St. Paul that says, in essence, if one spouse is a follower of Christ and the other isn't but is not hostile to the other's belief, then stay in the marriage. If the other is hostile, you're "free" to divorce...but of course you don't HAVE to divorce. To stay in the marriage is of course always preferable, and that Peguy chose to do so, while fasting from the Eucharist...so deep, so sublime a sacrifice...

    And Dylan, non sum dignis...yes. Lord, I am not worthy to receive you...have mercy on me, a sinner...

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