When I went on sabbatical three years ago, I took only three books with me: The Way of the Lord by N.T. Wright (a gift from Julio Hernandez), my Bible, and St. Teresa of Avila’s The Interior Castle. It was a luxury to spend so much time with these books. I just opened The Interior Castle, written in the 16th century. St. Teresa often refers to Jesus as the Beloved, and to God as His Majesty. I selected a random passage, knowing before I even read it that it would be good words for this Thanksgiving season:
On the spiritual path, the Beloved asks only two things of us: that we love him and that we love each other. This is all we have to strive for. If we do these perfectly, we are doing his will and so we will be united with him. But we are far from being able to do the things we ought to do for such a great God. May it please His Majesty to give us the grace to desire to do whatever is necessary to reach a state that is, in fact, in our power to reach!
In my opinion, the most reliable sign that we are following both of these teachings is that we are loving each other. Although we might have clear indications that we are loving God we can’t be sure that we really are, but it is obvious whether or not we are loving each other. Be assured that the more progress you make in loving your neighbor, the greater will be your love for God. His Majesty loves us so much that he repays us for loving our neighbor by increasing our love for him in a thousand ways.
It is important that we walk this path of love mindfully. If we practice love to perfection, we have done all that there is to do. Because human nature is flawed, I don’t believe that we could ever achieve perfect love for our neighbor unless the love that blossoms is rooted in God.