The theme of ‘newness’ is woven into the Mass Readings for this 5th Sunday of Easter – ‘a new heaven and new earth; the new Jerusalem, a new creation’ and in the Gospel Jesus speaks of a ‘new commandment’. At the Episcopal Ordination of our new coadjutor Archbishop on Sunday last, both he and Cardinal Brady commented on Archbishop Eamon’s motto: ‘Sing a new song to the Lord.’ To quote Archbishop Eamon “the new song is a song of love, that God unconditionally loves each one of us, despite our sinfulness and imperfections, and that the Lamb of God, who suffered and died to take away the sins of the world, has mercy on us.” But we must ensure that “it is the Lord’s song that we are singing, and not simply our own composition” and “we must sing in harmony with one another” and our “new song must never dilute the strength of Christ’s message but must capture faithfully the timeless truth of the Gospel. And that can only happen if we live in communion with Christ and with one another”
In The Dialogue, Chapter 64 Catherine outlines what the Heavenly Father taught her about love of God and love of neighbour and provides us with a recipe for putting into practice this new commandment of love. I quote:
“If you have received my love sincerely without self-interest, you will drink your neighbour’s love sincerely. It is just like a vessel that you fill at the fountain, if you take it out of the fountain to drink, the vessel is soon empty. But if you hold your vessel in the fountain while you drink, it will not get empty; indeed it will always be full. So the love of your neighbour, whether spiritual or temporal, is meant to be drunk in Me, without any self-interest.
I ask you to love Me with the same love with which I love you. But for Me you cannot do this, for I loved you without being loved. Whatever love you have for Me you owe Me, so you love Me not gratuitously but out of duty, while I love you not out of duty but gratuitously. So you cannot give me the kind of love I ask of you. This is why I have put you among your neighbours: so that you can do for them what you cannot do for Me – that is, love them without any concern for thanks and without looking for any profit for yourself. And whatever you do for them I will consider done for Me.
So your love should be sincere, you should love your neighbours with the same love with which you love Me. Do you know how you can tell when you spiritual love is not perfect? If you are distressed when it seems that those you love are not returning your love or not loving you as much as you think you love them. Or if you are distressed when it seems to you that you are being deprived of their company or comfort, or that they love someone else more than you.
From these and from many other things you should be able to tell if your love for Me and for your neighbours is still imperfect and that you have been drinking from your vessel outside of the Fountain, even though your love was drawn from Me. But it is because your love for Me is imperfect that you show it so imperfectly to those you love with a spiritual love.
All this comes from a failure to dig out every bit of the root of spiritual selfishness. That is why I often permit you to form such a love, so that you may come through it to know yourself and your imperfection in the way I have described.”