Father Vittorino is an Augustinian Father that, thanks to his life experience, really has a lot of things to talk about. For this upcoming Valentine’s Day, we summed up his thoughts about love, not only between engaged people, but even Catholic love that may get us closer to God, that guides us in our everyday actions and that allows other people enter our own life.
«Love? Saint Augustine used to say Dilige et Quod Vis Fac, Love and do what you want. That’s what I do».
What does the Bible Teach us about Love?
A fundamental part of the Holy Bible where love is mentioned is the Song of Songs, also known as the Canticle of Canticles. It tells about the relationship between a boy, Salomon, and a girl, Shulammite, and it is the most famous Canticle of human love. The Catholic world has always read this book from two different points of view: love that God brings to human beings and love among humans.
The first type of love moved God to send to human beings his own Son, Jesus Christ, to help them overcome their difficulties and show them closeness.
The second one is the love between human beings. It’s not only an instinctual feeling among people, between a man and a woman, or among friends that guides them to goodness.
Human love is moved by people’s will, that guides them while looking for goodness that is love and being loved. Love is patient, it’s never jealous, covers and forgives everything.
Love asks us to give, and when we are open to do it we start a new relationship with someone else.
Our existence is modulated by the love we have inside ourselves and the love we receive.
How could Catholic Love make the World a Better Place?
While teaching love to human beings, Jesus Christ wanted to create charity. According to St Augustine “Charity is never idle, it always moves”. When we love somebody we always think about how to make him/her like us, how to help him/her, how to show our support.
Saint Augustine teaches us to love and do what we want; if we love somebody like Jesus Christ does with us, we can only make good things to someone.
Today we are into a historical moment in which many reasons invite us to stay by ourselves, escaping any kind of relationship with other people. Just a few people get married, a few people are engaged, lots of people break up and we spend a lot of time alone. This is not love.
Love can create that communion between two people that makes them, as St Augustine said, “a unique heart, a unique soul”.
Our society should educate the youngest generations to this kind of love, in order to avoid the sad stories of chronicle, due to jealousy and possession. Our fragility as human beings may lead us to fail sometimes, but if we do not support who we love while going through the most terrible moments, when should we do it? Great jealousy does not grant a great love, it rather highlights a forced love or a lack of it behind.
St Augustine describes the relationship between humans and God as a love relationship.
The Song of Songs tells about a young girl who does not want to walk alone, without the support of her boyfriend. That girl represents the allegory of freedom, that never wants to walk alone but always sustained by God’s love.
This is what we need to convert the world into a better place.
What Labors of Love Could Get us Closer to God?
Love is like a path full of difficulties and our heart is constantly looking for some stability. We can get close to God by helping someone who needs it more than us.
In this respect, I would like to share a personal experience.
I was very young, I used to live in Germany, where I studied. It was dark outside and I while walking I bumped into a young guy I told I was a Father of St Augustine. We talked a lot about the Confessions of Saint Augustine, until he confessed to me a deep thought he had: he wanted to marry his girlfriend as he was deeply in love with her, but she wasn’t a believer; this big difference between them caused insecurity into his own heart and he didn’t know if marrying her was the right choice.
I advised his girlfriend to read the Diary of Edith Stein and told him to start doing something for other people, for the ones in need. I invited them to do something together and contribute to the numerous projects in Ethiopia of the German Augustinian Fathers.
This happens because the wounds we have inside are not meant to be widened, but healed and closed with an internal reconciliation, with some acts of charity. In this way our heart can be shaped. Even the rupture of a relationship is part of life: “we wanted to grow up together, we couldn’t make it, we’ll try again”.
The most important thing is to avoid any kind of vindication inside and open our heart to reconciliation; maybe life will bless us and we could get closer to God.
Does Love Come From Itself or Do We Need to Look for It?
Everyone who falls in love enters the so-called “Crisis of the Subject”. This happens when we start getting conscious about ourselves, when someone else enters our life. This event allows the birth of a new consciousness. When someone enters our life, we start walking through a new path together, we are not isolated anymore, we “suffer a crisis” due to the entry of a new person.
Love comes from itself when somebody crosses our paths. Each of us understands himself when projected into someone else that could be a person, a vocation, Jesus Christ, a pauper.
Saint Augustine himself experienced it in Milan, just a little time before St Ambrose baptized him. He used to define himself as a sine corde intellectual (heartless intellectual) and found the Lord’s love when he met a happy drunkard and changed his mind and thoughts.
When someone gets into our life, the important thing is to walk the right path and wonder how to relate with the new person, the one who created a deep “crisis” inside us and a new consciousness.
Father Vittorino and Alessandra Savelli, owner of Savelli Religious
What is Love According to Father Vittorino?
I have been educated by St Augustine and this is my way of behaving every day.
I constantly follow his teachings, his “Love and do what you want”, because you can definitely do it when you truly love. I never live a day without love.
In latin, it is Dilige et Quod Vis Fac and it is reported in St Augustine’s comment to the First Epistle of St John Apostle. Who truly loves can only make good things in life.