Working at Love

We love some people naturally, our children for example. We grow to love some people very quickly, an acquaintance who quickly becomes a loved friend. In both cases, our good feelings toward the person flow and we affirmatively seek to do things that will bring them happiness

With others, however, love – at least in the spontaneously-arising good feeling sense of the word – doesn’t come so naturally or quickly. Yet, we are called by Christ to love everyone.

Dorothy Day, who understood the need to love all others, said something helpful in this regard. She writes, “Love is a matter of the will….If you will to love someone and try to serve him as an expression of that love, then you will soon come to feel that love.” Day had no illusions that this is easy; she readily admitted to her own shortcomings and feelings of anger and resentment toward some persons.

But her suggestion seems a good one. We can’t force ourselves to feel love toward another. But we can will ourselves to act toward them in a loving way, allowing the feeling to arise on its own.

It takes time. As Day also wrote, given that our love for one another is tied to our love of God, “all our life is a practice to learn to love God,”

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