Motives for Loving Our Neighbor

If we love our neighbor because he does us good, that is, because he loves us, and brings us some advantage, honor, or pleasure, this is what we call a love of complacency, and is common to us with the animals. If we love him for any good that we see in him, that is, on account of beauty, style, amiability, or attractiveness, this is love of friendship, which we share with the heathens. . . . In fact, if we love any one because he is virtuous, or handsome, or our friend, what will become of this love if he should cease to be virtuous, or handsome, or to love us, or, still worse, if he should become our enemy? . . . The true love which alone is meritorious and lasting, is that which arises from the charity which leads us to love our neighbor in God and for God; that is, because it pleases God, or because he is dear to God, or because God dwells in him, or that it may be so. There is, however, no harm in loving him also for any honorable reason, provided that we love him more for God’s sake than for any other cause. . . . Nor does this hinder us from loving some, such as our parents and benefactors, or the virtuous, more than others, when such preference does not arise from the greater good they do to us, but from the greater resemblance they have to God, or because God wills it. -St. Francis de Sales

For this reason, he entertained great love and universal respect for all his neighbors — because he saw God in them, and them in God; and this made him very exact in all the duties of courtesy, in which he was never known to fail towards any one.

Text from A Year With the Saints (New York: P.J. Kenedy & Sons, 1891).

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