Sep 26, 2017
To love another person is to respond to his beauty and value (whether it is his ontological value as a child of God or whether it is a personal value as an enchanting human being). When we love, we necessarily wish to do good to the loved one: This is strikingly expressed in the Italian language: "Ti voglio bene" (I wish you well). This desire embraces all types of goods: from the most modest ones (such as a good meal) to the most important one: a person's eternal salvation. The greater the love, the more spheres of goods will it embrace while respecting the hierarchy of these goods. To strive to give another person a lower good, while actually damaging his higher good, betrays a very poor love.
Moreover, love desires union with the beloved, and must necessarily wish this union to last forever; love longs for eternity.
The wise men of yore (e.g., Plato) have often remarked that man tends to be his own worst enemy. Surprisingly enough, there is something in man that chooses to militate against his own true good. The innumerable men that are hooked on alcohol, drugs, sex, gambling, or ambition, are ultimately destroying themselves. It is not easy "to love oneself;" as a matter of fact, it is so difficult that, as St. Augustine remarked, only those who love God above all things learn to truly love themselves. All vices are man's deadly foes; they all thwart that good in him and choke the noble seeds that might blossom in his soul.
A friend who sees that the one he cares for is harming himself and heading toward his ruin, must, out of true love, not only warn him, but do everything in his power to pull him out of the rut in which he has fallen. No lover would dream of giving drugs to his loved one who is a drug-addict, or liquor to someone who is an alcoholic etc. What would you think of someone who seeing that his friend is about to fall into an abyss would not lovingly warn him and stretch his hand to save him? St. Francis of Sales tells us that it is laudable to be compassionate toward sinners, but that compassion should express itself in the sincere intention to pull them out of the quagmire into which they have fallen. It is a perverse type of mercifulness, he adds, to see one's neighbor enslaved by sin and fail to date to stretch out one's hand to pull him out of this mud hole (Spirit of St. Francis of Sales: Msgr. Camus, p. 205).