I vaguely remember, as a child, being so proud of the fact that I could tie my shoes. I consciously thought through what my fingers were doing with each action of tying my shoes. Today, I have no idea what my fingers are doing; I simply “tell” my hands to tie the shoes, and then they just do. It has become a habit.
Such habits do not change easily. I will not easily lose my ability to tie my shoes. In a similar way, it’s very hard to change our habits of virtue and vice (e.g., courage, humility, pride, vanity, etc.). They can change, but it takes time because habits are deep.
On the other hand, there are some things inside of us that do change frequently—feelings, for instance. Feelings are fickle. One day I’m happy, the next day I’m afraid, and the next day I’m bored. We’re not defined by our feelings to the extent that we are defined by our habits. Habits are deeper than feelings.
And so it’s important that our love for God is based on a habit, not a feeling. Of course, it’s perfectly good to have feelings about God. Such feelings are a wonderful gift that we should treasure. But our love for God must be based on a habit, not a feeling. Why? Because feelings are always changing. If I feel good about being at mass today, that’s great. But what if I don’t feel the same way next Sunday? Maybe mass next Sunday will be boring. And yet, I should still keep going to mass because my love for God must be based on a habit, not a feeling. In this case, the habit of loving God is itself a gift from God.
Married people know that real love is deeper than a feeling. What happens when you don’t have feelings for your spouse? Do you leave your spouse? No. Because real love is deeper than a feeling. Real love involves real sacrifice. The same is true for love of God. And so, let us pray that God will give us the habit of loving Him with the deepest part of our soul.
Br. Patrick Rooney, O.P. | Meet the Student Brothers in Formation HERE