Love of God and How to Gain it

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Saint Francis of Assisi at Prayer - by MURILLO, Bartolomé Esteban - from O.-L. Vrouwekathedraal, Antwerp
(Saint Francis received the Stigmata, in Reward for his Great Love-of God)

 

Our Greatest Fault is that we wish to Serve God in our Way, not in His Way -- according to our Will, not according to His Will. When He wishes us to be Sick, we wish to be Well; when He desires us to Serve Him by Sufferings, we desire to Serve Him by Works; when He wishes us to Exercise Charity, we wish to Exercise Humility; when He seeks from us Resignation, we wish for Devotion, a Spirit of Prayer or some other Virtue. And this is not because the things we Desire may be more Pleasing to Him, but because they are more to our Taste. This is certainly the Greatest Obstacle we can Raise to our own Perfection, for it is beyond Doubt, that if we were to Wish-to be Saints according-to our own Will, we shall never be so at all. To be Truly a Saint, it is necessary to be One (1), according-to the Will-of-God.

Saint Francis de Sales

 

Love of God and How to Gain it


by Saint Alphonsus Liguori

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God Loves You! - Do You Love Him?

Our Lord, because He Loves us much, Desires-to be much-Loved by us. Therefore, He has not only 'Called' us to Love Him by many Invitations, often Repeated-in Scripture, but He also Obliges us to Love Him by an Explicit Commandment. He Threatens-with Hell, those who do not Love Him, while to those who do Love Him, He Promises Paradise. His Will is that no one be Lost, but that all Attain Salvation, as Saint Peter and Saint Paul most-clearly Teach: "He Wants all Men to be Saved" (1Timothy 2:4). "The Lord shows you Generous Patience, since He wants None-to Perish, but all to Come-to Repentance" (2Peter 3:9). But since God Wishes all Men to be Saved, why has He Created Hell? He did so, not to see us Damned, but in-order-to be Loved by us. If He had not Created Hell, who in the Whole World would Love Him? If, with Hell 'Existing', many Men still 'Choose' to be Damned, rather than to Love Almighty God, who, I 'Repeat', would Love Him if there were no-Hell? And therefore the Lord 'Threatens' those who Will-not Love Him, with Eternal (∞) Punishment, so that they who Will-not Love Him out-of Love, may at-least Love Him, through Fear-of Falling-into Hell.

O God, how Fortunate and Honored would that Man be, to whom his King, should say, "Love me, because I Love you". An Earthly Monarch, would take Good-care not to Humble himself to-such-an Extent, as to Ask One-of his Subjects, for his Love. But God, Who is Infinite (∞) Goodness, the Lord of-All, Almighty, All-wise, Who Merits an Infinite (∞) Love, Who has Enriched us with Spiritual and Temporal Gifts, does not Shrink-from 'Asking'-for our Love. He 'Exhorts' and 'Commands' us to Love Him, but many Refuse-to Respond. What does He ask each One-of us, but to be Loved? "What does the Lord, your God, ask of you but to Fear the Lord, your God, to Love and Serve" (Deuteronomy 10:12). It was for this Reason, that the Son-of-God 'Came'-to Earth, as He Himself said: "I am Come to Light a Fire on the Earth. How I Wish the Blaze were Ignited" (Luke 12:49). Notice those Last Words — "How I Wish the Blaze were Ignited". It is-as-if God, Who Possesses-in Himself, Infinite (∞) Happiness, could not be Happy without seeing Himself Loved by us: "As if", says Saint Thomas, "He could not be Happy without you".

We cannot Doubt, then, that God Loves us, and Loves us Greatly. Because He Loves us Greatly, He Wishes us to Love Him with our Whole Heart: "You shall Love the Lord, your God, with all your Heart". And then He adds: "Take to Heart, these Words which I Enjoin-on you Today. Drill them into your Children. Speak of them at-Home and Abroad, whether you are Busy or at-Rest. Bind them at your Wrist, as a Sign, and let them be as a Pendant on your Forehead. Write them on the DoorPosts-of your Houses, and on your Gates" (Deuteronomy 6:5-9).

Christ with the Rabbis in the Temple -
by DÜRER, Albrecht -
from Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid
(Click Image for Greater Detail)
 

We can see in all these Words, how Earnestly God Desires-to-be Loved-by each one of us. He Wishes that the Injunction-of Loving Him with our Whole Heart, should be Imprinted-in our Heart, and that we never-Forget these Words. He Wishes us to Meditate-upon them, when we are Sitting-at Home; when we are Walking-abroad; when we Lie-down to-Sleep; and when we Wake-from it again. He Wishes us to Hold them in our Hands, Bound-up with some Significant Memento, in-order-that, wherever we may be, our Eyes may always Rest-upon them. Thus the Pharisees, taking the Words only-in their Literal Sense, as we are Told-by Saint Matthew, used to Wear them Inscribed-on Broad Pieces-of Parchment, which Hung-on their Foreheads, as Depicted-by DÜRER, to the Right (Matthew 23:5).

Saint-Gregory-of-Nyssa 'Exclaims', "Blessed is the Arrow which Carries-along with it into the Heart, the God by Whom it is Aimed". What the Holy Father 'Means', is this: When God Wounds the Heart, with an Arrow-of-Love, it Acts-like a Flash or Ray-of Special Illumination, whereby the Soul becomes Aware-of His Goodness and of the Love which He Bears-toward her (the Soul), and also of the Desire which He has, to-Possess the Love of that Soul; at the same-Time, He Himself 'Comes', together-with that Arrow-of-His-Love. And as an Arrow remains Fixed-in the Heart which it has Wounded, so in the same-Way, does God, when He 'Wounds' a Soul with His Love, Come-to Remain Forever (∞) United-with that Soul, which He has Wounded. Let us be Assured-that it is God only, Who Loves us Truly. The Love of-Parents, of-Friends, and of-All Others, who Say they Love us (except those who Love us Solely-out-of Regard-for God) is not a True, but a Self-interested Love, and Arises-from some Motive-of Self-Love, for the Sake-of which we are Loved.

Prayer: My God, I know Full-well that it is You alone, Who Loves me, and Desires for me every Good, not for any Selfish Interests-of Your Own, but Solely out-of Your Own Goodness, and out of the Pure Affection which You have for me; while I am so Ungrateful as to have Caused no one so-much Displeasure and so-many Griefs, as I have done to You. Jesus, do not Permit me to be Ungrateful-to You any more. You have Loved me Truly, and I Wish to Love You Truly, in whatever-of this Life, may still-be mine. With Saint-Catherine-of-Genoa, I say to You: "My Love, no more Sins, no more Sins". I Wish to Love You only, and nothing else.

Saint Bernard says that a Soul, which Truly Loves God "cannot Will anything, but what God Wills". Let us Pray God to 'Wound' us with His Holy Love, for a Soul, thus Wounded, has neither the Faculty nor the Power to have a Will for Anything, but that which God Wills; it Divests itself of every Desire, Arising-out-of Self-Love.

How Beautifully, Saint Bernard 'Expresses' himself on this Subject, when he says: "Let us Learn to Dart our Hearts at God". When a Soul Gives Herself up Wholly and Unreservedly-to God, it is as if She 'Darted' Her own Heart, like a Spear, Toward the Heart-of-God, Who declares Himself to be, as-it-were, Captured and Taken Prisoner by such a Soul. This is the Employment-of such Souls in the Prayers which they Offer: "They Dart their Hearts at God"; they Give themselves Wholly-up-to God, and they are ever Renewing that Gift in These or Similar Thoughts-of Love: My God and my All: My God, I Long-for you, and for Nothing else.

 

Prayer

O Lord, I Give myself Wholly to You, and if I do not Know how to-Make the Gift as-Perfect-as I Ought, do it Yourself.

And what would I Love, my Jesus, if I do not Love You, Who have Died-for me? Since You have Called me to Your Love, Enable me to Please You, as You Desire.

And what would I Love but You, Who are Infinite Goodness, deserving Infinite Love? You have Inspired me with the Desire-of being entirely Yours; make the Work Complete! And what would I have in this World but You, Who are the Sovereign Good? I give myself to You without Reserve; Accept me, and Give me the Strength to be Faithful till Death. I Wish to Love You Greatly, in this Life, that I may Love You Greatly, for all Eternity.

Amen