How can we return to first love?
Learn what it takes to get back to first love
The Jesus Revolution 2017 Retreat, which has as its theme ‘ back to first love ‘, is coming to an end. At this point, we begin our normal walk in common time, it’s time to experience our baptism. But, going to the theme of the retreat, returning to the first love, we can bring up the the question: “How can we live our baptism, so that it can be a revival in the first love?”. It is therefore necessary to cultivate the growth of three theological virtues: faith (believing), hope (remember) and charity (love). When they grow, they grow all the other virtues, and so we’re back to first love.
To better explain this process, I’m going to compare the stages of growth of these virtues (faith, hope and charity) with the growth of a normal love between a girl and a boy. Let’s assume that, first, the boy, seeing the girl, is surprised and immediately thinks: “this woman could be my wife and the mother of my children.” Okay, this is the first step: the desire of knowledge by means of intelligence. In relation to the virtue of faith,it occurs something like: we know God by faith. In this initial process, the boy will get information and learn about the qualities of the girl. Similarly, by faith – which is a virtue connected to knowledge – we know best who is God, so that we can love him even better. The virtue of faith, therefore, is the virtue of intelligence illuminated by the grace of God.
Meeting only is not enough to be a dating, in the next step (hope) there must be a mutual understanding. For her to fall for him, comes in the “memory” feature: he will be in touch with her more often, send messages, gifts and even do things her way. The message here is: no one falls in love with someone whom he or she doesn’t even remember. As anyone knows who’s in love. When you remember that person all the time, you dream, make plans, design the future. This, therefore, is the virtue of hope: sure of what exists, but you still can’t see that someone one remembers that he or she loves. One is taken by the desire to be with that person. Therefore, the desire (hope) needs memory.
The next step is the decision (will), which is linked to the virtue of charity. The girl and the boy decide freely to choose each other (or not). The charity, while virtue, is the decision of choosing to love your neighbor despite the degree of knowledge or memory. It is a decision, a choice. Love, therefore, resides in the will, feelings aside.
In this way, the intelligence (faith), memory (hope) and will (charity) are the three steps to get back to first love with God. The love of God is the third floor of a building that has two other: If you don’t build the first two, the third will not exist. Without it, love looks like a straw fire, it wears off, walking tolukewarmness.
Well, in short, to build concretely these three stories (faith, hope, and charity), we need:
Faith – believe strongly in the love of God, which is revealed to us through Jesus Christ, who gave himself up on the cross, died, and rose again, and is with us all the time. Believe, above all, in dogmas and sacraments of the Church; not a devotional practice alone, but a close relationship through the practice of daily prayer. Believe what God said and not just on what we’re seeing.
Hope – remember what God gives to us, he’s with us. When we remember that touch of the soul, that moment of prayer, we are taken by a desire to be with Jesus again.
Charity-deciding, so concrete, to love Jesus in brother. As we are loved by God, we need to take advantage of all our opportunities of personal suffering to love one another as Jesus loved us on the cross.
So, to get back to first love, we need to go through these three stages: believe in Jesus Christ, to remember him and love him. Even if it hurts, even if it’s uncomfortable, we must love him and surrender ourselves to Him. This is the way: our faith, hope and charity.
Fr. Paulo Ricardo Azevedo, Jr