The Connection Between Greatness and Love

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Recently CCO Alumnus Marlena Loughheed wrote a moving article on her decision to leave a successful career in communications to pursue a religious vocation as a Sister of Life. The article was entitled “A Love Louder Than Noise” and was published in the online magazine Convivium. She draws an interesting and powerful link between a call to greatness and a call to love. In more classic terms with respect to virtue, we might describe this as the connection between the human virtue of magnanimity and the theological virtue of charity.

Here’s a short except from her article:

“Inside every young person living a noisy existence are those pure childhood desires to make our lives matter and live for more than ourselves. Every time hedonism is exercised as a response to the quest for happiness, young people are robbed of the possibility to attain the fulfillment that comes from living for others.

Love is a choice. It’s a hard choice that requires radical sacrifice and resisting fleeting happiness – those things that feel good for a while but ultimately leave us longing for true greatness.”

The full article is well worth the read. In fact, I was told that it was the most read article on Convivium ever. I was asked by Convivium to share my response to her article which was published yesterday along with several other responses under the title “Born of Love Not Lack”. Here is a copy of my response:

“The world promises you comfort, but you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness.” – Pope Benedict XVI.

I was reminded of these words as I read Marlena’s very personal and moving account of her decision to pursue religious life. Our present culture espouses personal comfort as the highest of ideals; as the destination that we should all strive towards. Altering the phrase Marlena quoted from Jennifer Lopez, the world proposes: “Let’s get comfortable!”

Marlena’s story illustrates the experience of many. The destination of comfort isn’t actually satisfying. Rather, as she and Pope Benedict propose, we are all called to an ongoing journey of greatness. While this journey may involve the pursuit of great endeavors, it’s fundamentally more about who we are becoming rather that what we are accomplishing.

Marlena so eloquently describes this: a journey of falling deeper in love with the God who is Love, and in turn becoming love, to speak love to a world in desperate need of this love.

Finally, Marlena’s article reminds me of another statement made by Pope Benedict at his inauguration: “If we let Christ into our lives we lose nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing of what makes life free, beautiful, and great. No! Only in this friendship are the doors of life opened wide. Only in this friendship is the great potential of human existence truly revealed…do not be afraid of Christ. He takes nothing away and gives you everything. When we give ourselves to him, we receive a hundred fold in return. Yes, open, open wide the doors to Christ, and you will find true life.”

To become truly great, to find true life, we are invited to encounter true love with a God who is Love. In this encounter we find the connection between magnanimity and charity – greatness and love.

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