Saturday 1 February 2014

Love and self-surrender

A surprising comment from Hans Urs von Balthasar:
“What is essential here is the awareness that perfect love, as a total gift of oneself and of all one possesses to God, and for the sake of God, to one’s neighbour, contains an inner relationship not only to the form, but also to the content of a vow. There follows a practical consequence that is of supreme importance for one who is striving toward the goal of love: that he let the concept of total self-surrender be his guide in this pursuit. In the course of such striving, it is neither useful nor advisable to follow every conceivable recommendation, exercise or devotion in order to build from these many small stones a complete mosaic of Christian perfection. This is true even when these practices appear to have a more broadly ‘positive’ and more directly practical character than the seemingly negative one of self-surrender, loss and sacrifice. All these ostensibly ‘positive’ directives about asceticism and a way of life will always bear in themselves a certain character of superficiality and banality, of arbitrariness of choice and perspective, of a clinging to individuality and current taste. The evangelical and traditional guidelines for attaining perfect love, on the contrary, would have everything revolve around the axis of self-surrender, which appears hard and negative only to one who does not love. To one who loves, it is the epitome of all that is worth striving for.” [The Christian State of Life (1983) 63-64.]
The point and criterion and guide to everything - all practices and devotions and ways - is self-surrender, the perfection of love.  Am I, or anyone else, growing in such surrender, might be the question to ask....

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