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Oboedientia Caritatis

Translation: "harmonious obedience of mutual love"

"What makes this Oboedientia Caritatis possible is the right priority of love.  Abel chose God, not himself, as his good, and in so doing he fixed on the only object of desire that others can share without rivalry or fear of loss.  Not only can they share such a love, they can actually increase it by doing so.  Less can become more, and living partnership can be, not a compromise of power, but a source:

"A man's possession of goodness is in no way diminished by the arrival, or the continuance, of a sharer in it."

This is a little selection form an article I'm reading by my adviser, Peter Hawkins, about Augustine in the Divine Comedy.  Dante mentions so many influential Christian figures and mysteriously passes over Augustine until he gets a one-line mention in the vision of heaven.  Strange!

Yet Augustine's influence can't be avoided.  In this passage, Hawkins is looking at Augustine's exegesis of the Cain and Abel story, which Augustine compares to Romulus' murder of Remus at the founding of Rome (Augustine's premise for The City of God).

These murderous brothers prioritized their loves wrongly.  They loved most of all things that could be taken away if they were also loved and sought by other people - such as power over a city like Rome.  Augustine makes the point that the best loves, the ones that must top our lists on our love-hierarchies, are the loves that welcome sharing.  There are loves that we only get to enjoy more fully because the people around us share in the same love.  I love being with my brother's friends because they love him differently than I do - likewise with my mother and my father.  There is no threat here, only multiplication.

This is the essence of Christian fellowship.  By all Christians loving the same God, our love for him is multiplied by one another's participation in that love.


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