By Engr. Carlos V. Cornejo
Is there a limit to love or charity? Does charity in us increase more and more forever, without limit? Will we never be bored in Heaven in all eternity (since there will always be new and exciting ways to love, a new person to love, and a new aspect of that person to love)? Is charity infinite here too on earth?
St. Thomas Aquinas’ answer is yes, there is no limit to our charity because it is a participation to Infinite Charity Himself, God. When we have that divine life of God in us, God will expand our hearts not physically but spiritually so that it can love more a person and it can love more persons. Unlimited love can already start here on earth and perfected in heaven.
Each person is unique in character so we have different ways of loving each person. Aside from that, each individual is unfathomable in personality, that’s why we don’t get rid of our best friend or our parents or spouse or any other loved ones because we got bored of them. People’s traits and personality are unlimited. For each person there is always a new aspect to love. Another hint of infinity in personality, is ourselves. We can’t even fathom fully ourselves, that’s why theologians would say each person is a mystery to himself or herself. We can only unravel that self-mystery when we are already in heaven.
Natural virtues or human virtues as Aristotle would say, are half-way between two extremes. The virtue of patience for example, is half-way between too much patience which leads to not correcting others, and lack of patience, when we easily get irritated with other people’s defects. Courage is half-way between recklessness and cowardice. Recklessness means a person should have been afraid of what he is about to do because it could harm himself or harm others but does not. An example would be over speeding while driving (a vehicle) or what is commonly known as reckless driving. Not to be reckless is the only instance in life that we should use fear in the right way. Cowardice on the other hand is to use fear in the wrong way. An example of a coward is when he is supposed to do the right thing but does not do it because he is afraid of what others might say about him such as being seen by friends praying or going to Church. Human virtues such as courage and patience are half-way virtues between two vices. But the supernatural virtues of faith, hope and charity have no limit or are not half-way virtues. No one can have too much faith (trust in God), too much hope (in God’s generosity) or too much love for God. Two words that are not pronounced in heaven are “enough” and “mine”. No one there loves enough and no one keeps something for himself or herself because that is not true love. Each one shares her or his goodness to everyone else.
Our hearts capacity to hold love and choose love can be infinitely increased and therefore our love will be infinitely increased, forever, in heaven. This is not the same infinity as the divine infinity. God is actually infinite; our participation in Him and His charity is potentially infinite, like the number series or ours is a created infinity whereas God’s infinity is part of His nature or uncreated infinity. God is already perfectly, completely achieved infinite perfection; we however grow in perfection forever and ever, always increasing God-ward. Our hearts infinitely increase in being able to love because in heaven we increasingly love God and the others there for eternity. Otherwise, we would not be able to love eternally if our hearts have a limited capacity to love. We cannot imagine this. But we can believe it, hope for it and love it. This process begins in this life, and can be verified by experience: there is no limit to the number of people we can love here on earth. It is then continued and perfected in heaven. God puts seeds of eternal plants in temporal pots.