God`s commandment of love is divided in two distinct commandments which essentially represent the two sides of the same coin. It refers at the commandment of love for God and of love for our neighbor.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
In what regards the love for our neighbor, saint Nicodemus the Athonite makes a distinction between personal and catholic love. Personal love which is related to parents, relatives, friends and acquaintances is common for all people, even for non-Christians. Catholic love on the contrary embraces all people without exception, regardless of kinship, racial or religious criteria, ideological position, civilization or descent and the Christians, the priests, the laymen and monks are called to acquire it. Catholic love represents the specific difference between Christians and the other people. That is why the Lord says in the Gospel that 35 `By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.`
How to acquire catholic love?
For acquiring catholic love it is needed an ascetic application of long years so that the passions which impede the action of pure love are fought to strengthen the soul to a spiritual state of passionlessness and acquire tolerance for the mistakes, imperfections and weaknesses of the neighbor, with impartiality and objectivity for him, which can`t be influenced by his sudden changes. God`s love for us remains undiminished and our love should be like it.
The spiritual evolution our soul goes through for acquiring catholic love knows many changes. Generally there are noticed the following stages: the first coming of the divine Grace, the withdrawal of the divine Grace and the return of Grace
Excerpt from Love taught by God– Saint Vlasie – Pilios, to be published by Evanghelismos.