Sunday, November 13, 2011

Questioning Father Ryan at New Theological Movement Blog

Over at http://newtheologicalmovement.blogspot.com/2011/11/why-does-god-give-to-some-five-and-to.html, Father Ryan writes this concerning God's love:

"We must understand: God DOES NOT love all people equally. The Most Blessed Virgin Mary has been loved more than any other human persons – hence, without any merit of her own, she was conceived immaculate. Likewise, we may consider St. Paul who, while yet a sinner, was given the grace not only of conversion, but also of the apostolate to the gentiles.
God loves some more than others, but he still loves all. Love does not have to be equal when it is gratuitous – for, most assuredly, none of us (not even our blessed Lady) deserver the love of God. To show us that he is merciful and compassionate, God gives some graces to all people (hence, all receive at least one talent). Yet, to prove to us that his love is gratuitous and not a legal requirement, God loves some more than others and gives special graces to some which he does not give to others (hence, some receive five, others two, talents)."



I do not claim to be a theologian and have not had any formal theological instructions, but considering Father Ryans statements above, I must disagree with him, based on reason and my own life experience. I believe the problem with his thinking about God's 'unequal' love for us is based on what he perceives as the more God loves us, the more graces He will give us. I do not think for one minute that the amount of grace one receives is determined by "how much" God loves each one of us. Let me give you an example.

I am a father of five children. I can tell you honestly that I have never loved one child above another. I may have LIKED one child more than the others, but liking and loving are two different things. How do I know I Iove my children equally? Because I would not give a second thought to giving up my life for any of my children. Even for the most annoying child. Do I give to all equally as far as responsiblities, duties, chores, favors or rewards go? No, I don't. The reason being is that I know my children. I know their characters and personalities and I know which of them can handle what ever it is I will dole out to them.

Some of my children can shine when it comes to being responsible, or given a particular chore to do, and I will allow them more liberties, while one or another must be treated differently for whatever reason, be it weakness or some other deficiency in character they may have. It has nothing to do with my love for them, but what their roles in the family are, their ages and their characters. In all of this, my love is equal, not more and not less for one over another. The love I give my children is free for me to give. They may accept it or reject it. Nevertheless, I give it to them equally because they are part of me as we are made in God's image. My equal love for them is not determined by their love for me. It never has been.

For Father Ryan to believe that God does not love us equally then one must consider this: If our souls have value and are loved by God, and for Jesus to say that there  is no greater love than this, to lay down ones life for another, then it stands to reason that Jesus DID die for ALL of us. Not just for a few. If there had been only one soul on earth at the time, He still would have taken up His cross would He not? How many fathers reading this would not give his life for his child even if he had NO other children? Jesus gave ALL His love for Mary, St. Paul and for us when He was nailed to the cross. Not one more than another. There is no greater love than this and since there is no greater love and He died for all of us, then that love is equal for all of us.

I have received graces from God in my life but perhaps not the same ones that another received or in the same amount, because my 'role' in life was different than the other. Perhaps I did not need as much, or by withholding certain graces from me, he sought for me to ask for those graces. Our reception of grace is also determined at times to our asking our Lord for them. Yes, grace is unmerited and can be withheld, but not for the reason that Father Ryan believes, that God loves some less than others.

Was Mary given more grace because she was loved more or because she had a role to play that was special in creation that no other could fill and she needed to be immaculate? Or St. Paul? God saw something in Saul's misguided passion to hold on to the Hebrew faith and persecute those he perceived as an enemy of his faith. God offered him the grace to turn that passion into something positive because perhaps God had a special role for St. Paul to play in the conversion of the gentiles that perhaps none of the other apostles could fill. If there was anyone that would be considered annoying at the very least, or unlikeable and less loved it would have been St. Paul, but he was still offered grace. He chose to accept it and cooperate with those graces. He prayed that God would take away his 'thorn' yet God responded he would not, that His grace was sufficient.

We are all loved equally by God, but we are not all equal recipients of His grace, for each of us have different roles to play in creation, we all have different needs and some of us just simply ask for them. Just as my children do in my family.

7 comments:

  1. When talking about the Beloved Disciple ("John, whom Jesus loved" as the gospels often say), a priest I know proposed that the reason Jesus loved John so well was because John let him. His idea made sense to me, because I've experienced this myself: some people are easier to love than others simply because they let me love them. It's not even that they have a bigger capacity for love, but they are more open to accepting it.
    This might be true of heroic virtue, holiness, and graces as well. I love Padre Pio and am in awe of his life, what God worked through him. Is it because God loved him more than the other brothers at Pietrelcina? Or because Pio never said no and he accepted more of what God wanted to give?

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  2. The Ordinary CatholicNovember 14, 2011 at 5:03 PM

    Now that is an explanation I can understand. It is not that God loves someone more, but that a person is more open to His love...is that the gist of what you are saying? If it is, I can accept that Tess. Thank you so much for that piece of information :)

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  3. Not to cut in on the conversation here ... but, if you are interested, St. Augustine gives an excellent commentary on why John is loved more.

    He says that Peter loved Jesus more, but was loved by Jesus less. That John loved less than Peter, but that he was loved most. And why? Simply because of the goodness of God who will love whom he wills. [see the last homily in his commentary on John - http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1701124.htm ]

    In any case, I will be posting another article on why God loves Mary more than all others -- and it is not because she has a special role, that special role is an effect of God's love rather than the cause.

    Peace to all here! +

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  4. I will ask this simple question Father, and welcome to Peter's Barque by the way! :) As I said in my article, if there is NO greater love than to lay ones life down for another, is it true to say that if there had been only ONE person on the earth Christ would have died for that one person? And if the answer is yes, then doesn't it stand to reason that Jesus gave His love completely for that person? We cannot say he would have loved that person less, for it is the greatest of love to die for another. I will read what you have suggested Father, but for now, I tend to go more along the lines as Tess above in the first comment. Thank you for taking the time to respond to this blog. I was a bit surprised you knew Peter's Barque even existed :)

    Peace of Christ be with you,
    The Ordinary Catholic

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  5. Indeed, there is an essential quality according to which love is love ... and in this sense, God's love is equal.
    However, this is an accidental increase in love from one person to another ... and in this sense, our Lady is loved more (not through an merit or previous disposition on her part, but because of God's mercy).
    I hope that is a bit more clear -- thank you for helping me to clarify it though your article.

    Further, I would say that Tess gets very close to "semi-Pelagianism" which claimed that man can dispose himself to receive grace through his own natural abilities.
    If we ask, why was John more able to receive God's love? The fundamental answer must be: Because God, in his love, opened John to receiving more love.
    [it's not helpful to compare human love to divine love in this respect ... which is what Tess is trying to do ... rather, we must admit that God's love is what makes us to be love-able, whereas humans love each other because of our innate love-ability]

    Finally, I found your blog because of the link you had to my article ... though now that I know you, I will check back every so often (when I am able)! :-)

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  6. I certainly didn't mean to tread in semi-Pelagianistic waters! The way I understand the explanation given to me, it isn't that John made himself more receptive to love through his own effort, simply that he was more receptive, perhaps through natural disposition. If God loves where He wills, can He not also make a heart more receptive where He wills?

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  7. I'm still conflicted with the idea that God loves some more than others. I cannot seem to wrap my mind around that concept. I see a clear indication where this idea of unequal love emanates from the idea of more grace = greater love. Since we cannot gain heaven by our own merit, how then can we explain that by cooperating with graces given, salvation can be attained? In this sense, who does the cooperating? We do. How are we to cooperate with these graces unless we will it so? Is this not merit on our part? If it isn't, what is it then? Another grace that allows us to cooperate?

    How then are we to attain a higher degree of perfection and/or holiness without SOME cooperation on our part, and would that not be an act of the will? Am I grasping at straws here?

    It is true to say that God's plan for mankind did not precede his love for us, yet once we are created by His love, may not his plan include certain ones that have a very specific role to play in creation(such as Mary)and graces are given specifically for that role? If more is given to one because God loves that one more, why not say that God loved Ramses, the Pharaoh, more for the abundance that was given him? I'm not saying you are wrong Father, but I cannot come to grips with what you are claiming...

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