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By Sam Guzman, The Catholic Gentleman, July 2, 2019
One of my favorite pastimes is grilling meat. While I am very much an amateur, I find the flavor of grilled meat to be far superior to meat cooked in any other way. Grilling is the polar opposite of perverse modern forms of cooking, barely worthy of the name, like heating something in a microwave. Grilling is a process, and enjoyable one at that.
I also refuse to use a gas grill, though I won’t deny their convenience. There is something authentic and even primal about cooking with hardwood charcoal. At the very least, it is certainly more challenging to control the temperature and make sure the heat is distributed easily, and I enjoy a good challenge.
Heating a charcoal grill usually involves building a pyramid shape with the coals or in placing them in a metal chimney to heat up. Sparks burst forth like small fireworks as the charcoal begins to warm and catch fire. As the fire grows, the heat is usually located in the center of the pyramid, where it increases in intensity and begins to spread outward to the coals on the periphery. Before long, all the coals are pulsing with heat, and cooking can commence.
Recently, while heating my grill to cook some chicken, I watched the warmth and light in the center of the pyramid spreading outward toward the cold, black coals on the edges. And in these warming coals, I saw a parable. For fire, with its light and heat, is never content to stay in one place. It is compelled by its very nature to spread itself as far as possible. Indeed, fire never ceases to communicate warmth and light to its surroundings—it always spreads.
The Fire of Love
So, too, is it with genuine love. Love must communicate itself. Like fire, a heart filled with love burns and spreads its warmth and light to those around itself. Love burns ceaselessly, and it must spread. St. Maximilan Kolbe describes love in this very way:
“When the fire of love is ablaze, it cannot be constrained within the heart, but blazes forth and burns, consumes and absorbs other hearts. It conquers more and more souls over to its ideal….[Our apostolate] focuses on such love, which goes so far as to win the hearts of all those who live in the present and who will live in the future, and that as soon as possible, as soon as possible, as soon as possible.
– St. Maximilian Kolbe, Collected Works, 1325
The saints were those men and women who were possessed by love. One cannot read the writings of the saints or the records of their lives without coming away with the distinct impression that they were consumed by an inner fire that compelled them to do things the world found insane. The saints could not rest until they had completely burned themselves up for the salvation of others. It was a sort of holy madness that consumed them—the madness of the fiery love of God.
Love and Evangelization
What does all this have to do with us?
There is much talk about evangelization in the Church today. We see the forces of secularism eroding faith, and many are rightly concerned. Among the many solutions are programs, activities, and, absurdly, even proposals that we need to make our worship more appealing. As if hip tunes, projector screens, and a welcoming “experience” will renew the church. It won’t happen.
The love of many is growing cold, as Jesus predicted that it would (Matt. 24:12). And so the only thing that will draw souls to the Church in these times is the fire of true love. We need saints whose hearts are burning with the eternal flame of love and who radiate it to others.
How do we obtain such fiery love? There is no way to buy it. Neither is it as simple as starting a group or watching a DVD. To catch fire, we must come into contact with the blazing fire of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. And how do we do this? The only is through genuine prayer.
Pray always and without ceasing, above all the radiant prayer of the rosary. Further still, create a zone of silence in your life to foster the growth of love in your soul. So often the sparks of love are extinguished by the cares and desires and ceaseless activities of this world. If you seek a parish program to foster the growth of love, then implement perpetual adoration. For nothing causes love to grow more than devotion to the Most Holy Eucharist, which is the love of God incarnate among us.
Darkness is spreading and would consume everything. But, as a saint once said, all the darkness in the world cannot resist the light of a single candle. Let us be much more than candles—let us be burning bonfires of love so that we can communicate warmth and light to many souls.
“By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 14:35