Theology of the Heart: Teachings of the Saints
Christ, the Model of Brotherly Love
Saint Aelred, Abbot
reading on brotherly love was taken from the Mirror of Love by St.
Aelred and is in the
Office of Readings for Friday of the First Week of Lent.
The perfection of brotherly love lies in the love of one’s enemies.
We can find no greater inspiration for this than grateful
remembrance of the wonderful patience of Christ. He who is more fair
than all the sons of men offered his fair face to be spat upon by
sinful men; he allowed those eyes that rule the universe to be
blindfolded by wicked men; he bared his back to the scourges; he
submitted that head which strikes terror in principalities and
powers to the sharpness of the thorns; he gave himself up to be
mocked and reviled, and at the end endured the cross, the nails, the
lance, the gall, the vinegar, remaining always gentle, meek and full
In short, he was led like a sheep to the slaughter, and like a lamb
before the shearers he kept silent, and did not open his mouth.
Who could listen to that wonderful prayer, so full of warmth, of
love, of unshakable serenity—Father, forgive them—and hesitate to
embrace his enemies with overflowing love? Father, he says, forgive
them. Is any gentleness, any love, lacking in this prayer?
Yet he put into it something more. It was not enough to pray for
them: he wanted also to make excuses for them. Father, forgive them,
for the do not know what they are doing. They are great sinners,
yes, but they have little judgment; therefore, Father, forgive them.
They are nailing me to the cross, but they do not know who it is
that they are nailing to the cross: if they had known, they would
never have crucified the Lord of glory; therefore, Father, forgive
them. They think it is a lawbreaker, an impostor claiming to be God,
a seducer of the people. I have hidden my face from them, and they
do not recognize my glory; therefore, Father, forgive them, for they
do not know what they are doing.
If someone wishes to love himself he must not allow himself to be
corrupted by indulging his sinful nature. If he wishes to resist the
promptings of his sinful nature he must enlarge the whole horizon of
his love to contemplate the loving gentleness of the humanity of the
Lord. Further, if he wishes to savor the joy of brotherly love with
greater perfection and delight, he must extend even to his enemies
the embrace of true love.
But if he wishes to prevent this fire of divine love from growing
cold because of injuries received, let him keep the eyes of his soul
always fixed on the serene patience of his beloved Lord and Savior.
This page is the work of the Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and