St. Anthony Messenger

Let Us Pray: Love Will Keep Us Together

granddaughter kissing grandfather on the cheek.

I walked into our living room looking for Elenita, my 20-month-old granddaughter, who let out a loud shriek of wild excitement. Her arms flung in front of her with such delight that her entire body struggled to contain her unfettered emotions. 

I had not said or given anything to Elenita. Yet in that one moment, I felt bathed in pure, genuine love by my first grandchild’s reaction to seeing me. Unquestionably, the love I experience as a grandmother—of 14—is the purest version of God’s love that I have encountered this side of heaven. When I’m with them, I feel the love, not because of anything I do, give, or say. But simply for being. 

I have often wondered what I had done to deserve such goodness and love. The answer is nothing. That’s precisely why their love is the perfect characterization of how God loves and delights in me. In this way, my grandchildren’s love is nothing less than a physical theology: a tangible manifestation of God in my world. 

Being with my grandchildren continually reminds me that I am loved. God’s love is forever with me, and that love will transform and redeem the world. I need this reminder often! 

God’s Infinite Love

In a world of silly love songs, it is easy to ask, “What’s love got to do with it?” rather than trust the love that we have already encountered as believers. Think of the countless number of songs, poems, books, works of art, and plays that are created to define love and to affirm that, yes, “all you need is love.” In a very tangible way, we spiritually forget what love is. More importantly, we forget who love is. 

This “crazy little thing called love,” which is both simple to recognize and difficult to define, means nothing if it is not rooted in and seen through the one who is, was, and forever will be. Thank God we have the communion of saints to guide us, to keep us company in this earthly pilgrimage, and to encourage us with their sincere faith. 

St. Thérèse of Lisieux understood the love of God as limitless. Our task, as believers, is to remove our attempts to control and contain God’s shoreless ocean. For St. Thérèse, the sea was not only a visual of God’s grandeur and majesty, but it also beheld the vastness and greatness of God’s love for her. 

Imagine if, like St. Thérèse, we would willingly dive headfirst into the ocean of God’s love. Imagine if we threw ourselves without hesitation into God’s arms! 

Acts of Love

St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, who dedicated her life as a missionary to caring for the less fortunate in the United States, had a powerful, prayerful confidence in God’s loving providence. She described her perspective on life rather simply: “Love, and let God take care of the rest.” 

Saints who died as martyrs have a unique ability to bear witness to God’s love. Blessed Stanley Rother, for example, was a diocesan priest from Okarche, Oklahoma, who was martyred in 1981 at the Oklahoma Mission in Santiago Atitlán, Guatemala, during the country’s bloody civil war. Father Rother, declared by Pope Francis in 2016 as the first US-born martyr, witnessed God’s love for his Tz’utujil Mayan parishioners with his life—and through his death. 

As Pope Francis explains, martyrdom is primarily an act of love: “The martyrs, in imitation of Christ and with his grace, turn the violence of those who refuse the proclamation [of the Gospel] into a supreme occasion of love.” 

Next to the entrance of the historic parish church in Santiago Atitlán hangs a large photo banner above the side altar where Rother’s heart and blood are entombed. There is an image of Father Stanley Rother celebrating Mass, along with the words proclaimed by Jesus, “No hay amor más grande que dar la vida por sus amigos” (“There is no greater love than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends”). 

The martyr’s seminary friend, Archbishop Harry J. Flynn, said it best: “Stanley Rother, in my estimation, had taken on so much of the beauty of Jesus Christ and his strength and gentility that his death was a final act of real transformation.” 

May we model that kind of love in our own little ways! 

Prayer

In this month of love, let us meditate on St. Paul’s treatise on how to love (1 Cor 13): 

Love is patient. 
Your words, O Lord, are goodness and life.  
May I ponder and wait in daily prayer 
for your understanding and grace. 

Love is kind. 
Take away all that distracts me from serving others, O Lord.  
May I assume the best of people and situations that I don’t like. 

Love rejoices in the truth. 
Shine your light, O Lord, on my actions and my motives.  
May my love for others be faithful and honest. 

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things,  
endures all things. 

Help me to expect with confidence, my Lord.  
May my hope always be rooted in the reality of your goodness. 

Love never fails. 
When I stumble and fall, Lord, may I turn to you to heal  
and restore all things.


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