Pastor's Desk Notes

May 5, 2024

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

If only it were so simple. “Love one another.” And yet, it is so simple! The commandment of commandments, the summary of the whole law of God, expressed in three simple words. While simple in expression, we have all experienced the challenge of living this commandment out in practice, and have seen the consequences of human failures to love in our history, in our society, in our workplaces, in our schools, and in our homes. And not failures, only, but misunderstandings or misrepresentations of the very meaning of love. In fact, we might trace failures in love back to flawed definitions of the concept. So before we throw up our hands in despair at ever being able to follow the great commandment, and at the risk of getting an old song stuck in our heads, it is worth asking, “What is love?”

St. Thomas Aquinas teaches that “to love is to will the good of another.” How do we know what is good? An action is good when it is in conformity with God’s commandments. The good can be described as the full actualization of our potential for or achievement of perfection. As only God is perfect, the more we are conformed to God, the more we imitate Christ, the more our lives can be described as good. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (#2500) says “The practice of goodness is accompanied by spontaneous spiritual joy and moral beauty.” And so when we follow the great commandment, we are willing the good of another, desiring for them to be more perfectly aligned with God’s plan, God’s law, and God’s goodness. Sometimes this means saying yes, even if it requires sacrifice: think of last week’s bulletin cover picture of St. Gianna Beretta Molla who said yes to life, and to loving the child in her womb. Sometimes willing the good of another requires us to say no, as when we forbid a certain action or behavior. A parent who stops their child from touching a hot stove even though the child cries is acting in a loving manner. To love one another as Jesus teaches us, then, does not mean to give license for any and all behavior. Rather, it means to encourage what is good – morally, materially, spiritually, and emotionally – and to do so having received the perfect love that Jesus shows us on the Cross. The love He shows us on the Cross is truthful: Jesus teaches us everything that the Father has revealed, and fulfills the Law and the Prophets. The love He shows us on the Cross is merciful: Jesus forgives all wrongs by the shedding of His blood. The love He shows us on the Cross is sacrificial: Jesus lays down His life for our sake, so that we might have an example to follow. So let us love one another as Christ has loved us. If only it were so simple. And ye, it is so simple.

On a completely different note, I’d like to give a small clarification. As you know, I am taking a sabbatical this summer, beginning June 1. At the conclusion of the sabbatical at the end of August, I will come back to Fairfield and resume my regular responsibilities here at St. Pius X. I am grateful to Bishop Caggiano for the opportunity to take the sabbatical, to Fr. Brendan for taking on responsibility for the parish for the three months that I will be away, to our parish staff for being such outstanding coworkers in parish ministry, and to all of you for your kindness, support, and prayers!


Fr. Sam