Love is Not Boastful

Precepts of the Church (CCC 2042)

1: Attend Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation.

2: Confess your sins at least once a year.

3: Go to Communion at least once a year during Easter season.

4: Keep holy Sundays and holy days of obligation.

5: Observe the prescribed days of fasting and abstinence.

6: Provide for the material needs of worship. The United States bishops add: Observe the Church’s marriage laws; give religious training to one’s children by example and word, and through parish schools and religious education; share in the Church’s missionary spirit and apostolate.

Love Is Not Boastful

“Love is not… boastful (perpereúetai), arrogant (physioútai), or rude” (1 Corinthians 12:4-5). The Pope tells us that word for boastful “denotes vainglory, the need to be haughty, pedantic and somewhat pushy. Those who love not only refrain from speaking too much about themselves, but are focused on others; they do not need to be the center of attention” (Amoris Lætitia 97). In a sense, the boastful makes himself a god, just like Satan does.

Another danger with intense family interactions is arrogance: becoming “puffed up” before others. The Pope warns us of this dangerous obsession:

Such people think that, because they are more “spiritual” or “wise,” they are more important than they really are… Some think that they are important because they are more knowledgeable than others; they want to lord it over them… but in fact [they] are filled more with empty words than the real “power” of the Spirit (see 1 Cor 4:19) (ibid.).

When there are discussions about politics or religion we may be tempted to push our opinions or even real knowledge on others, as though we were somehow better than they are. We don’t listen or let others speak; perhaps we are a bit afraid that we don’t have all the answers. As the Pope goes on to say:

It is important for Christians to show their love by the way they treat family members who are less knowledgeable about the faith, weak or less sure in their convictions. At times the opposite occurs: the supposedly mature believers within the family become unbearably arrogant… The inner logic of Christian love is not about importance and power; rather, “whoever would be first among you must be your slave” (Matthew 20:27). In family life, the logic of domination and competition about who is the most intelligent or powerful destroys love (ibid. 98).

Listening and asking thought-provoking questions is a humbler and much more effective way, because love “is marked by humility; if we are to understand, forgive and serve others from the heart, our pride has to be healed and our humility must increase” (ibid). This approach also shows that we respect the other person and that we listen to him or her, who makes us think, because “what really makes us important is a love that understands, shows concern, and embraces the weak” (ibid. 97).

To enjoy family life, you need to focus on others and not on yourself. If you want to have a miserable holiday or vacation then focus on what you want. As you don’t get it you’ll become disappointed, angry, and feel sorry for yourself; and everyone else will be miserable too. When we serve others and try to make their life easier—to make them happy—we become happy and anything we get becomes a joy filled surprise. This is how to get the most out of our more intense family time with others.

Father John Waiss is the pastor of St. Mary of the Angels Church in Chicago, Illinois. He is also a member of Opus Dei, the prelature founded by St. Josemaria Escriva.