There was a time when I thought Ignatius Loyola’s “Suscipe” was a prayer of ascetic daring. It was as though I had to prove my love to God by showing what I might forgo. At some point, however, it changed. It became a profession of love for God. Love of God and neighbor is not about performing slavish acts of ritual observance and obliged charity. It is about us communicating our experience of love to others.

Is it that the less selfish we become, the more clearly we see God’s love in the world? Is it that when we love others, we get a glimpse of God’s love for us? Perhaps. Regardless, the natural response of feeling loved is to love in return. When we attempt to love God in return, we may just find ourselves caring for our neighbors…not as we would like, but as we would care for Christ.

—Fr. Paul Lickteig, S.J. serves as parochial vicar at St. Xavier Church, Cincinnati OH.