Newsletter n. 8/23 – The Four Loves

«“[…] There are many loves and various powers. There is the love of first power: the one given to God. Then there is the love of second power: the love of a mother or of a father, be­ cause if the previous one is entirely spiritual, this one is spir­itual by two parts and carnal by one. It is true that human af­ fection is mixed in it, but the superior sentiment prevails, be­ cause a father and mother, who are such in a wholesome and holy way, do not only feed and caress the body of their child, but they give also nourishment and love to the mind and the spirit of their creature. […] There is the love for one’s wife: love of third power because it is made – I am always talking of wholesome and holy love – half of spirit and half of flesh. A man, besides being the husband of his wife, is a teacher and a father to her; and a woman is an angel and a mother to her husband, besides being his wife. These are the three highest loves.

[…] God is to be loved because He is God, so no explanation is required to con­ vince one to have such love. He is He Who is, that is Everything; and man: Nothing, who participates of Everything, because of the soul infused in him by Eternal God – without which soul man would be one of the many animals that live on the earth, or in water or in the air – he must adore Him from a sense of duty and to deserve to survive in Everything, that is to deserve to be part of the holy People of God in Heaven, a citizen of the Jerusalem which will know neither profanation nor destruction forever.

[…] If there had not been the three pillars of the three above men­ tioned loves, could there have been love for one’s neighbour? No. It could not have existed. The love of God makes God a friend and teaches love. Who does not love God, Who is good, cannot certainly love his neighbour who in most cases is faulty. If there had been no conjugal love and paternity in the world, there could have been no neighbours, because a neighbour is the son of man”.

[…] “And the other loves?” ask together Simon Zealot and the man from Endor. “The first one of the second series is the love for our neigh­ bour. In actual fact it is the fourth in power. Then comes the love for science. Finally the love for work”. “Is that all?” “That is all”. “But there are many more loves!” exclaims Judas of Kerioth. “There are other hungers. But it is not love. They are the ne­ gation of love. They deny God, they deny man. It cannot be love because it is negation and Negation is Hatred”». (The Gospel, vol. 3 ch. 196)

This passage, written by Maria Valtorta on June 25, 1945, is “set” around April 15, 32 (according to prof. Liberato De Caro’s calendar). Some elements to understand it thoroughly are the place, the time, the people present, the history of those people, the intention of the Author (Jesus, not Maria Valtorta), the end He wanted to achieve, the circumstances and also the language used. Personally, it reminds me of a famous book by an equally famous writer: “The Four Loves” by C. S. Lewis: the Anglican author of “The Chronicles of Narnia” does not speak of the powers of love, but rather of four different loves that can conquer man’s heart and life, which are: affection, friendship, eros, charity. Jesus, on the other hand, in the Valtortian private revelation, does not speak of “loves”, but of “Love”. Jesus is interested in showing the proper hierarchy of love that can engage a human being. The reference to Mt 10:37-38 is obvious: “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; whoever does not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me”.

For Jesus, love is only one, and it can vary only in intensity: only for God can it be total and all-embracing, all others are partial, even if involving as spousal love. Absolutely absent is any compromise-reduction-relativity of love toward God. This love is obvious and self-evident: “God is to be loved because He is God, therefore it needs no explanation”; it is so absolute and obvious that it does not even need commentary. God is there and is to be loved totalitarianly, without justification or proof. He is there, therefore He is to be loved that way. Period. What modernity has introduced, namely doubt and uncertainty, is not even considered here.

Then there is another point to emphasize: the nullity of man along with his extraordinariness. He is a nullity because he is a creature. He is extraordinary, however, because he is an embodied soul called to be “part of God’s holy people in Heaven”. It is man’s spirituality that enables him to love, and man – you and I – must live by this awareness every moment of his life. The Valtortian Work has precisely this end: to make man aware again of the gifts he has received and to live them with enthusiasm and perseverance.

The closing of the piece is categorical: there are no other true loves, only passions, “hungers”. Sports, science, technology, etc. are interests, demons (in the sense of ‘obsessions’, not ‘evil spirit’), but not loves. No scandal, but only a desire to make people understand the two elements that should guide man in every generation: God and the human soul. These are the two paradigms that should guide every human being in the journey of life, so that it is already now projected toward true Life, the Eternal Life in Love.