Everything in the Church—sacraments, liturgy, sacred arts, methods of prayer, the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, the witness of the saints, ascetical practices—is meant to awaken the love of God and the love of neighbor. Jesus is the heart of the law, the be all and end all of the spiritual life. Why should this be true? It is true because, as the first letter of Saint John specifies, “God is love.” Therefore, to have love in us is to have God in us. It’s as simple as that.
Concomitantly, to participate in all that the Church has to offer and not to have love is a colossal waste of time. In Paul’s language, “If you have faith enough to move the mountains, and have not love, you are nothing; if you speak in human tongues and angelic as well, but have not love, you are a noisy gong and a clanging cymbal.” (cf. 1 Cor 13:1-2)
But what is love? Love, in the theological sense, is not primarily a feeling, though it might be accompanied by feeling. Rather, it is an act of the will, more precisely, a willing of the good of the other as other. To love the Lord our God is to savor the infinite good that he is, to rest in his perfection and splendor; and to love our neighbor is to bring as much good to him or her as possible. That’s the height and depth and breadth of the spiritual live. Everything else is commentary.