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God's love

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How do you protect yourself from the wiles and snares of the devil? Simply do your best to follow and love God and love your neighbor as you love yourself.

Father John
Catoir

A letter came to me recently, thanking me for helping the person see Jesus as "a loving brother or a kind Father" rather than as a judge.

This letter is similar to many others that have graced my life. I, too, grew up with a lot of fear about eternal punishment, and though it certainly served to keep me in line, it also caused much needless distress.

Because of this experience, I have felt God's call to emphasize love over fear as best I can. Writing on spiritual matters is a vocation within a vocation. How do I go about my craft? It's primarily a matter of perspective. I always remember that God is unchanging love. I try to help the faithful apply the Church's teaching to every problem that life presents.

For instance, if you are from divorced parents, don't always focus on your own hurt. If you do, you'll live a life of resentment, always blaming others for your unhappiness. Think more about God's love.

After all, isn't it true that God brought these two incompatible people together for a purpose? He wanted you to be born. He wanted to share his love with you for all eternity. Without their attraction for one another in the beginning, you would never have been born. Block out all the negativity.

On the question of "fear" in the Bible, remember that Jesus tells us many times to let go of fear and to be at peace.

Jesus said, "In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world" (Jn 16:33).

Even though Jesus gave us some stern warnings, his central message was this: to trust in him and to let him be our strength and our joy.

How do you protect yourself from the wiles and snares of the devil? Simply do your best to follow and love God and love your neighbor as you love yourself.

In other words: Cling to God, think of the needs of others and reach out to them, and don't put yourself down. Love and joy are two sides of the same coin. Isn't it true that whenever you feel love you become more joyful? Whether a grandchild jumps on your lap or a loved one gives you a hug, you feel happier.

You have a duty to focus on God's love for you and to strive to live joyfully because of your constant awareness that you are loved. Throw overboard all the internal garbage that says you're a poor helpless creature, alone and in danger.

Live up to your calling as a Christian.

FATHER CATOIR IS A COLUMNIST WITH THE CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE.

FATHER CATOIR IS AN AUTHOR, FORMER HOST OF “THE CHRISTOPHERS” TV PROGRAM, AND A CATHOLIC PRIEST FOR OVER 55 YEARS.

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