By Evette Dombrosky

A clean heart create for me, God; renew within me a steadfast spirit. (Ps 51:12) – one of my favorite verses.  It comes to mind very often this Lent.  With my theme of “return to God with your whole heart,” I want God to see a new heart in me; a heart that He himself would want, a heart that loves like His own.

Can I really love like God?  Love is a concept we often complicate.  Many variables influence how love is expressed: context, thoughts, feelings, intentions, etc.  Who doesn’t want to be loved?  It is the reason God created us.  To love, and to be loved…what could be better?  Charity!

We sometimes use these two words, “love” and “charity”, interchangeably, but they are not the same.  Both are very good.  Charity is better, in my opinion.  The virtue of charity is a kind of love, but not all kinds of love are also charity.  Confused?

St. Thomas Aquinas defines love as the choice to consistently will the good of the other.  We love our family, our friends, our spouses, and significant others when we truly desire what will bring goodness to them and their lives.  Sometimes people think emotions and feelings are love, but this is wrong.  Feelings change, come and go, as they arise out of the brain and heart.  The act of love resides in the will, therefore love is a choice.  We must will love (choose to love) and this is important to distinguish.

Love becomes the virtue of charity when we love God and our neighbor for the sake of God.  What does this mean?  It means we choose to act and behave in ways that show we consistently love God and do what is in the best interest of those we care for, just as God would always choose the good for us and for others.  He IS goodness and love.  Therefore in charity, we act out goodness and love as He does.  This virtue is infused into our being by God himself, so we can’t make ourselves charitable.  Maybe that’s why loving some people isn’t always easy.

Is this what would make my heart new?  Learning to love the people that I find difficult to love?  Jesus even says the radical, “…love your enemies…” This seems not only difficult, but maybe senseless.  Yet, remember how God loves.  God loves ALL.  “…for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust. (Mt. 5:45)   God does not separate who receives His sunshine, His rain, or His love.  He chooses to give and love without condition, and He wants us to do the same.  We often choose to love those who play by our rules, do what we want, see as we see.  However, we are called to love everyone, without putting conditions on relationships.  We must love as God would love, whether it is deserved or not.  How do we do this?  C.S. Lewis says, “Do not waste time bothering whether you love your neighbor; act as if you did.”  There it is.  Make the choice to love, even when it is difficult.  I need to begin now.

God, give me the grace of charity.  Help me to love as you do, without counting the cost, without conditions or expectations.  Help me to soften my heart and choose to love when it is not deserved, just as you have loved me many times undeserved.  Help me to forgive as you have forgiven me time and time again.  Make my heart like yours, whole and infinite in generosity.


It is not so essential to think much as to love much.
St. Teresa of Avila


You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.

This is the greatest and the first commandment… You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
Mt. 22:37-39

C.S. Lewis says this all so much better than I do:

Next week (the last week): Life’s ultimate goal – union with God

Disclaimer – I realize how little I know, and how much I need to learn.  I’m just trying to challenge myself and keep growing.