Just as an unclean love inflames the soul and incites it to desire earthly things and leads that perishable soul to pursue perishable things, and casts it down into the depths, so a holy love raises the soul to things above and inflames it toward eternal things and excites it toward things that do not pass away and do not die, and lifts it from the depths of hell to heaven. Every love has its own power, and love can never be idle in the soul of a lover; it has to lead. If you want to know what kind of love it is, see where it is leading. We are not urging you, then, to love nothing, but that you not love the world so that you may be free to love the one who made the world. A soul that is bound by some earthly love has, as it were, pitch on its wings; it can’t fly. But when it is cleansed of the worlds filthy affections, it’s as if it has spread its feathers and, now entirely free, it flies on its two wings, the two commandments of love of God and love of neighbor. And to what is it flying if not to God, ascending by loving? Before it can do that, if it has at least the desire to fly, it groans on the earth: “Who will give me wings like those of the dove, and I will fly, and I will rest” (Ps 54:7). (Augustine, In Ps 121, 1; PL 37, 1618-1619)
Rev. Joseph A. Komonchak, professor emeritus of the School of Theology and Religious Studies at the Catholic University of America, is a retired priest of the Archdiocese of New York.