A good interior relationship with God is an indispensable ingredient for a happy life. For only when this basic relationship is in order can all other relationships prosper. That is why it is important to learn and practice all one’s life long, from childhood on, to think with God, to feel with God, to will with God, so that love will follow and will become the keynote of my life. When that occurs, love of neighbor will follow as a matter of course. For if the keynote of my life is love, then I, in my turn, will react to those whom God places on my path only with a Yes of acceptance, with trust, with approval, and with love. To characterize love of neighbor, Holy Scripture employs a very wise and very profound expression: “to love one’s neighbor as oneself”. It requires no quixotic or spurious heroism. It does not say: “You should deny yourself and exist only for the other; you must be less concerned about yourself and more about the other.” No!—“as you love yourself”. Not more, not less. If we are not at peace with ourselves, we cannot really love anyone else. If we cannot accept ourselves, we will also reject the other. True love is righteous: to love myself as a member of Christ’s body—that is where it leads. Oneself as others—to be freed from that false perspective with which all of us are born, that the world revolves around me alone.

Joseph Ratzinger, Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year, ed. Irene Grassl, trans. Mary Frances McCarthy and Lothar Krauth (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1992),  page 276.

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