Link back to index.html

 

     Love is Infinite

 

All the passages below are taken from Fulton J Sheen’s book “Way To Happiness.”

 

There is a profound difference in quality between the possessions that we need, and use, and actually enjoy, and the accumulation of useless things we accumulate out of vanity or greed or the desire to surpass others. The first kind of possession is a legitimate extension of our personalities: we enrich a much-used object by our love, and it becomes dear to us. We can learn about the two kinds of ownership in any nursery: a child who has only a single toy enriches it with his love. The spoiled child, with many play-things spread out for him, quickly becomes blase and ceases to take pleasure in any one of them. The quality of his love diminishes with the number of objects offered for his love... as a river has less depth, the more it spreads over the plains.

When we visit a large mansion, inhabited by only two people, we feel the coldness of such a house, too vast to be made a home by human love. Each of us, by his presence, can ennoble a few cubic feet... but no more. The more people own beyond the limit of things they can personalize and love, the more they will suffer boredom, ennui and satiety.

Yet men and women are forever trying to add to their possessions far beyond the limit of enjoyment. This is because of their mistaken belief that their hunger for Infinity can be satisfied by an infinity of material things: what they really wish for is the Infinity of Divine Love.

Our imaginations are easily misled into desiring a false infinity, when once we begin to long for "wealth". For "wealth" and "money" are things that appeal to the imagination, which is insatiable in its wishes. Real goods, such as those our bodies need, have not this quality: there is a narrow limit to the amount of food our stomachs will hold and when that is reached, we do not wish for more. Our Lord fed the five thousand in the desert with fish and bread, and all of them had their fill. But if He had given them, instead, a $20,000 bond, no single person would have said, "One is enough for me."

Credit-wealth---stocks, bonds, bank-balances---have no set limit, at which we say, "No more". They have in them a caricature infinity, which allows men to use them as false religions, as substitutes for the true infinity of God. Like money, love and power can become ersatz religions: those who pursue these things as ends will never find satisfaction. Such men are all in pursuit of God, but they do not know His name, nor where to look for Him.

Since every increase in quantity among the things we love brings a decrease in the quality of love, there are two ways by which we may hope to keep love pure. One is to give away in proportion as we receive: this habit reminds us that we are merely trustees of God's riches, not their rightful owners. Yet few people risk doing this: they are afraid to touch their "capital", and every cent they add to it becomes part of the sacred pile which must not be disturbed. They become identified with what they love; if it is wealth, they cannot bear to part with any portion of its accumulated burden.

The second way of preserving ourselves from an unseemly greed is the heroic way... the way of complete detachment from wealth, as practised by St Francis of Assisi and all those who take the vows of poverty. There is a paradox in such a renunciation, for the man who has given up even the hope of "security" is the richest man in the world; he is the most secure of all of us, for he wants nothing... and that is a boast that no millionaire can make. Everyone's power of renunciation is greater than anyone's power to possess: no man can own the earth, but any man can disown it.

Misers may fill their wallets, but never their hearts, for they cannot obtain all the wealth they are able to imagine and desire. But the poor in heart are rich in happiness. God gave us love enough to spend in getting back to Him so that we could find infinity there; He did not give us love enough to hoard. [29-31]

 

Link back to index.html