By Madeline Pecora Nugent and Dom Julian Stead, OSB, provides an insightful and practical guide to understanding and implementing love of God and love of neighbor. Using advice from masters of Christian thought such as Saint Gregory the Great and Saint Maximus the Confessor, Nugent and Stead relate ancient insights to modern life. Suggestions on how to become more observant, how to offer help, and how to make suggestions are strengths of this book. Examples of real life situations (the names have been changed to protect identities) illustrate the suggestions.
The preface of the book reads:
So you want to be loved? Everyone does! To be loved is every human’s greatest need. What is the proof? In the 19th century and through about 1920, nearly 100% of babies abandoned to institutions died, not from lack of food or sanitation, but from lack of love. James L. Halliday, a psychiatrist who studied psychosocial issues in medicine, concluded that “infants deprived of their accustomed maternal body contact may develop a profound depression with lack of appetite, wasting, and even marasmus [wasting away] leading to death.” Doctors realized that babies need to be loved, that is held, cuddled, caressed, and carried. When institutional procedures began to include loving and cuddling, as well as bathing, feeding, and changing, the abandoned infants began to thrive. A malnourished baby who is loved will fight harder to live than a well-fed but neglected infant. Older people also fight harder to live if they know they are loved. A gentle touch is vital to a dying person because it conveys love. Love is the food of your soul. You need love to thrive.
Where is love found? Not on a grocery shelf or in a catalog! Love cannot be earned, bought, or created. It just emanates naturally from another person’s heart. Are there ways to encourage love? Oh, yes, but they begin, not with the other person, but with you.
No one can be compelled to love you. People will not love you because you are witty, beautiful, talented, wealthy, intelligent, or stylish. For that matter, they will not love you because you are a bore, ugly, clumsy, poor, stupid, or sloppy either. But they can love you if you are witty or a bore, if you are beautiful or ugly, if you are talented or clumsy, wealthy or poor, intelligent or stupid, stylish or sloppy. Love has nothing to do with those traits. Love has to do with being loving. Just like chickens come from chickens and apples come from apples, so love comes from love. If you want to be loved, you have to love. Those who love others find that others love them. What could be more simple?
But love is not that easy. It is great to be loved. It is like sitting down to a sumptuous dinner and enjoying every bite. But loving, like preparing the dinner, takes work. It can be messy and time-consuming. And sometimes it does not get the praise that it deserves. Who ever thanks enough the chef who has spent hours preparing a terrific meal? Does the chef stop cooking because the diners are not appreciative? Not at all. He or she loves cooking. In the same way, those who “love to love” keep on loving even if nobody thanks them.
To be loved, learn how to love. You learn how to sew or to play the violin by practicing. Similarly, you learn to love by practicing loving. Learning to sew or to play the violin can be difficult. Learning to love may not be easy either, especially if you have never been taught. But just as every person has some innate sense of how to make a straight seam or how to tell a pleasant sound from a screech, so every person is born with an innate sense of how to love. That is because God, who is love (see 1 Jn. 4:8), made every person in his own image. Love created each person as a lovable being capable of loving. Knowing how to love comes naturally.
Consider newborns. They exude love. Even anencephalic infants, who are missing most of their brains, lie peacefully and gently in their parents’ arms. They are giving and receiving love. Every human being is born loving. Unfortunately, some people have forgotten how to love because others have rejected, ridiculed, or scorned their love through abuse, neglect, or other evil tactics. The longer evil continues, the more people forget how to love. Only others loving them can help them again learn how to love others. But it will be a long journey back.
Maybe you do not have many friends, or many close friends, or one, very special friend. Perhaps you feel invisible or neglected. You might be convinced that no one could ever love you. Or maybe you just want to be loved more or in a fuller or more proper way. On the other hand, you might feel confident that others love you, but you want to become a more loving person yourself. Whatever your reason for choosing this book, these pages will help you become more lovable and, therefore, more joyful. “A joyful heart,” wrote Mother Teresa of Calcutta, “is the normal result of a heart burning with love.”
 Kuhl, What Dying People Want, 113.
 Halliday, Psychosocial Medicine: A Study of the Sick Society, 245.
 Kuhl, 111-18.
 Biblical references are taken from the New Revised Standard Version.
 God is inclusive regarding gender. Scripture (Gn 1: 26–28) states that God made male and female, “in the image of God he created them.” In other words, man and woman taken together give a clearer image of God’s attributes than either sex considered singly. In determining which pronoun, if any, to apply to God in this book, the authors felt that using the pronoun “it” is unacceptable in addressing the Divine Person who God is, while using no pronoun tends to imply that God is impersonal. Therefore, this book, following traditional usage, uses the masculine pronoun for God.
 Mother Teresa, The Blessings of Love, back cover.
Provides an insightful and practical guide to understanding and implementing love of God and love of neighbor. Also used as manual for older members of Young Knights and Maids of Errantry. See Knights Errant Link for information on Young Knights and Maids