Doctor Santorio’s Invention
Dear believing, doubting and non-believing friends,
Hearts, hearts and more hearts are everywhere you look these days, so if you got ashes today don’t let them float down and blind your eyes to Valentine’s Day, only days away. Valentine’s Feast of Lovers and Friends is an ideal companion to Ash Wednesday’s annual launching of Lent’s season of reform. But why do I need to be reformed? “I go to church every Sunday, leaving an offering of 10% of my income; I pray before meals and twice daily, read scripture every morning and am a volunteer at the soup kitchen—and I keep all the commandments!
Really, you keep “all” the commandments? For Jews and for Jesus, the Great Commandment isn’t one of the famous Ten, rather “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your strength.” (Deut: 6, 5; Matt. 22:37) To test if we keep that commandment you and I need the Italian Dr. Santorio’s 1602 invention of the thermoscope, what we call a thermometer. We each need a heart-thermometer to give us the degree of our love’s fervor for our Beloved Creator and to measure the degree of the heat of our love for those dearest to us. If your thermometer numbers feel off a degree or two, you’re fortunate that the annual season of reform that begins today provides you with 40 days to rekindle and stoke up the fires of your love.
After recovering from falling in love we all tend to love moderately within limits, not with great passion. We do so logically to insure our beloved’s death will not drive us mad. Marriage with its routine and sameness also lessens the once explosive fires of love and causes a lack of frequent gratitude and loving gestures and expressions. Marriage vows are necessary since we physically quickly change, and our once passionate love over time cools down until it is as lukewarm as today’s ashes. In the case of seniors, their once fascinating youthful love over the decades matures into an infallible ironclad companionship. Older lovers of God, after years of intimacy, experience that same confident calm love of companionship with their Beloved Lord.
Unfortunately, believers deceive themselves that fidelity to the laws of God and the church, along with Sunday worship, suffices for love. Non-believers and halfhearted ones don’t hate God but experience the opposite of love which isn’t hate, but apathy. When it comes to Divine matters they are indifferent, uninterested and, when forced to attend church, are bored. The temperature of their relationship with God is lukewarm. Also in failing marriages and love affairs any love left is likewise lukewarm.
If fifty percent of American marriages end up dead in divorce, one wonders what percentage of God-human love relationships end up the same way? The Good News is if your heart thermometer measures your love of God as tepid, even if you are a doubter it can be re-enkindled. Surprisingly, enkindled love is conducive to enkindling belief, which is really Good News since it is healthy to deny the existence of some Gods we were taught existed.
One answer to how God looks upon the degree of your love is found in the book of Revelation 3: 15: “I know that you are neither cold nor hot…So because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” Those are the acidic hateful words of a god of whom you should be an atheist! It is healthy and holy to be a non-believer of that Revelation spokesperson, like several other false gods who are found in the “Good Book”…but who don’t really exist!
For half-hearted or devout believers, here are some suggestions. Begin to say aloud frequently throughout the day, “I love you, God.” When you experience a love gift from the Divine One like escaping some accident or finding some forgotten hidden money, say, “Thank you. I love you, God.” As you drift off to sleep as a final prayer of the day, “I love you, God…or Lord…or my Beloved.” Review your life and your talents, personal gifts you’ve been given, or a marriage partner or children, and see them all as individual love gifts to you from your Beloved God.
Regardless what you may hear from the pulpit or read in the Bible, God believes in you, even if you don’t believe in him/her. God’s love for you is always unconditional, more passionate than any human love; no matter if your love is nonexistent or only lukewarm.
Happy romancing your Valentine lover and your Divine Beloved!