“To change our hearts is to learn to love things which we do not naturally love – to unlearn the love of this world; but this involves, of course, a thwarting of our natural wishes and tastes. To be righteous and obedient implies self-command; but to possess power we must have gained it; now can we gain it without vigorous struggle, a persevering warfare against ourselves”. – Saint John Henry Newman

Lent is a special season of the year, a gift given to us by the Church. It is a reminder that although we are imperfect in so many ways, we can change, and it is through this change that we become the person God has been calling us to be from the beginning of time.

Saint John Henry Newman highlights, “to change our heart is to learn to love things which we do not naturally love – to unlearn the love of this world”. When sin entered the world, our capacity to love the way God loves, became disordered and our love was no longer authentic. Imperfect love is what the world teaches us today. This is a love which is self-affirming. A love which tells us to go after the things which make us feel good in the moment. A love which encourages us to give, but only to the extent to which we receive. A love based on our feelings and one that flees from the thought of suffering.

“If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Do not even tax collectors do the same?” – Matthew 5:46

Real, authentic love is not self-affirming but rather, self-sacrificing. To really love someone is to love when it is hard, and we don’t feel pleasure in doing so. To deny ourselves of comfort for the sake of another. It is a love rooted in the will rather than emotion. Pope Saint John Paull II reminds us that “real love is demanding” because “love demands a personal commitment to the will of God”. It has always been in the will of God, our Father, for us to love Him and others unconditionally. But our broken nature often prevents us from doing so.

Fortunately, the Church dedicates this liturgical season of Lent as an opportunity to ponder on where our love has been lacking. To ask ourselves, do I love like the world, or do I love like Christ?

We must not be afraid of the pain and sacrifice that comes along with authentic love. The pain we experience from letting go of our wants and desires is not a sign that we should flee, but instead, a motivating factor which indicates that we are on the right path as our hearts are being purified and slowly learning to love the things which we do not naturally love. It is a sign of heroic virtue to commit oneself to the will of God rather than succumb to one’s own wicked desires.

When we feel like we have no strength to love authentically, we ought to look up at Jesus on the cross. To ask Him for the grace and fortitude to change our hearts so that we can love the way He loves. We pray that this Lenten season, your sincerity of heart may continue to grow and imitate that of Christ on the cross.

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