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True Freedom vs. The Slavery of Sin

The more one does what is good, the freer one becomes. There is no true freedom except in the service of what is good and just. The choice to disobey and do evil is an abuse of freedom and leads to ‘”the slavery of sin.”

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For I Have Loved You From the Start Or: In the Beginning Was the Song of Songs

—from Three Philosophies of Life by Peter Kreeft (pp. 102-103)

The first and most obvious thing Song of Songs says about love it says in its very title: that love is a song. Now this is an image or symbol, of course. Love is not literal, physical song, though it naturally expresses itself in that form. What is suggested by this image?

God is love, and music is the language of love; therefore, music is the language of God. Music is a language more profound than words. How often have you heard a great piece of music and felt that? Great music does not just make you feel good; great music suggests some profound truth or mysterious meaning that is objectively true but not translatable into words. Attempts to translate music’s meaning into words always fail. It is like trying to allegorize a symbol, trying to reduce to one literal, verbal meaning something that has many nonliteral, nonverbal meanings. Love fits this pattern: (1) it is not only subjective feeling but objective truth, (2) it is both mysterious and meaningful, and (3) its meaning is never reducible to words. The wooden trap of words can never capture the lobster of love, any more than a wooden “interpretation” of the meaning of a piece of music can capture the music itself.

I think music was the language in which God created the world. Both C.S. Lewis (in The Magician’s Nephew) and J.R.R. Tolkien (in The Silmarillion) tell this story, and it goes back to a very old tradition, probably older than Pythagoras and his “music of the spheres”. We moderns usually think of music as a later ornament added onto speech, but I suspect it is the opposite: speech is a later development from music. Song is not fancified poetry and poetry fancified prose; prose is ossified poetry and poetry ossified song. The reason I think this is because (1) “In the beginning, God”, (2) “God is love”, and (3) love is not a speech. We do not ever speak of “love speeches”, only of “love songs”.

Therefore, in the beginning was the Song of Songs. This book goes even further back than Genesis, into the eternal heart of the Trinity.

Song For You by Jenny and Tyler from the album Faint Not

Song For You lyrics:

My voice you didn’t know, didn’t know
I called you had to go, had to go
Back to your little world
Where nothing is strange

You set out on your own, on your own
You said, I’m heading home, heading home
Back to the life you know
Neatly arranged

I have done for you
Everything my love
Hear my song for you
I will not hold my tongue

It’s late, your getting cold, getting cold
You try to keep warm, but you’re alone, you’re alone
The dark streets are empty now
And the wind starts to blow

I have done for you
Everything my love
Hear My song for you
I will not hold my tongue
Open your heart, open your heart
For I have loved you from the start

I will never harm you, come my love
So come
So come

I have done for you
Everything my love
Hear My song for you
I will not hold my tongue
Open your heart, open your heart
For I have loved you
Open your heart, open your heart
For I have loved you from the start

 

 

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The Daily Grind and Sanctity

Spectacular heroism, even martyrdom, is easy; the daily grind is hard. Many can respond to emergencies heroically; few can keep up their charity day to day, especially when no one notices. That’s why picking up a scrap of paper for the love of God can be more of a proof of sanctity than martyrdom.

—from How to Be Holy by Peter Kreeft, Ch. 13: Little Things

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Lust vs. Love, Pt. 3: The Blessed Virgin Mary and the Face of God

St. Thomas says that the only thing strong enough to overcome an evil passion is an even stronger good passion. Sex addicts seldom have a clear picture in their minds of the beauty of continence, as Augustine has here. They see continence as merely negative, as the mere absence of sex. Similarly, addicts to war and violence seldom see peace as the positive thing it is for Augustine…

That is why a close relationship with the Blessed Virgin Mary is so effective an antidote to both of these poisons of the modern world, lust and violence. IN her, both chastity and peace become positive and beautiful. (Peter Kreeft’s commentary on Confessions, Book 8/Chapter 11/Paragraph 27)

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God does not tell Augustine how to conquer “the flesh”. He tells him, through the Apostle Paul, to ignore it (“make no provision for the flesh”), to look at the face of God instead.(Peter Kreeft’s commentary on Confessions, Book 8/Chapter 12/Paragraph 29)

—from the book I Burned for Your Peace: Augustine’s Confessions Unpacked by Peter Kreeft (from the section titled The Romans 7 Experience)

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Lust vs. Love, Pt. 2: Pleasure Alone Is Not Enough

C.S Lewis says:
For me the real evil of masturbation [would] be that it takes an appetite which, in lawful use, leads the individual out of himself to complete (and correct) his own personality in that of another (and finally in children and even grandchildren) and turns it back: sends the man back into the prison of himself, there to keep a harem of imaginary brides. And this harem, once admitted, works against his ever getting out and really uniting with a real woman. For the harem is always accessible, always subservient, calls for no sacrifices or adjustments, and can be endowed with erotic and psychological attractions which no real woman can rival. Among those shadowy brides he is always adored, always the perfect lover: no demand is made on his unselfishness, no mortification ever imposed on his vanity. In the end, they become merely the medium through which he increasingly adores himself….After all, almost all the main work of life is to come out of ourselves, out of the little, dark prison we are all born in. Masturbation is to be avoided as all things are to be avoided [which] retard this process. The danger is that coming to love the prison. (The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, 758-759)

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We are destined for ecstasy. (The word means, literally, “standing-outside-yourself”.) That is why we become addicted to substitutes: drugs, alcohol, sex. Pleasure is not enough. Even happiness is not enough: it gets boring. Nothing less than joy will do. That is why Scripture lists joy as one of the fruits of the Spirit, but not happiness or pleasure.

—from How to Be Holy by Peter Kreeft, Ch. 17: Unselfconsciousness

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Lust vs. Love, Pt. 1: The Definitions and Differences

Lust is not true love for three reasons. First, it is selfish: what we love is not the person but the experience. Second, it is only animal love; it does not rise to the level of reason and free will. Third, it is not subject to God and His will and does not intend to be. The fact that most people today do not clearly know this explains part of our fascination with Augustine. This “old stuff” is radically new to us. (Peter Kreeft’s commentary on Confessions, Book 2/Chapter 2/Paragraph 2)

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I was not yet in love, but I was in love with love….I sought some object to love, since I was thus in love with loving….For within I was hungry all for the want of…Thyself, my God. (Confessions, Book 3/Chapter 1/Paragraph 1)

Not in love (with a person) but in love with love—exactly the typically modern subjectivism that defines the differences between true love and lust. True love starts with vision: a vision of the beloved as a good person who deserves and/or needs my love. Lust starts with desire, with my own need for an object to elicit the pleasurable experience of love, which is the thing I crave. It is like the difference between appreciating a good wine—that particular unique one—and alcoholism, which is addiction not to a wine but to an experience. (Peter Kreeft’s commentary on Confessions, Book 3/Chapter 1/Paragraph 1)

—from the book I Burned for Your Peace: Augustine’s Confessions Unpacked by Peter Kreeft (from the section titled Adolescence: Lust and Pears and also the section titled Young Adulthood: Carthage)

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“But who do you say that I am?”

The central problem of the century is also the central question of our lives. The problems of poverty—like the problems of keeping peace—will never be finally resolved in this life. But we recognize the central question: the question that allows for a simple, definitive, declarative answer. “But who do you say that I am?” [Mt 16:15]

—from the online article The central problem of the century—and of our lives by Phil Lawler at CatholicCulture.org