28 April 2010

Qualities of Divine Love

Today is the feast of Saint Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort. He is well-known for his devotion to Our Blessed Lady and perhaps comes to mind more than any saint by the reading or hearing of two words: God Alone. He writes of Our Lord as Incarnate Wisdom but Wisdom needed a home from a woman of our race – the Blessed Virgin Mary. Here’s a poem he wrote on God alone:

What ill or evil, Lord, can harm
This joyous heart that You alone can charm?
I love You more with every breath,
So how can I fear life or death?
To love You, Father, is to live and sing
The songs the angels sing their King.
God alone in every cell of me!
God alone! For all eternity!

‘Totus tuus’ (I am all yours) are two Latin words which also turn one’s thoughts to Saint Louis-Marie as they are from his work, ‘True Devotion to Mary’: and these two words were the apostolic motto of Pope John Paul II, who was deeply influenced by the writings of Saint Louis-Marie.

Here is something excerpted from one of the homilies of Saint Louis-Marie in which he borrows from the infallibility of Sacred Scripture and the wisdom of the saints:

Everyone claims that he loves God (Saint Gregory). However, nothing is more rare. ‘Do not be deceived, brothers’ (1 Corinthians 6:9). Among the metals are gold and silver. Charity is gold.

True charity is full of action as a fire. It is a seed that germinates, a root that sprouts, water that flows, a fire that burns: ‘never is the love of God idle. If it is a great love, it will always be active; if there is no action it does not exist’ (Saint Gregory).

All virtues operate through the commandment of charity, ‘faith which operates through charity’ (Galatians 5:6).

‘Love is as strong as death . . . O unsurpassable virtue of charity, that overcomes the invincible’ (Saint Bernard).

When we love God, we imitate Him in His love which, according to Richard of St. Victor: is a love which never tires; a love which is never the first to break off; a love which is not deterred by our rebelliousness.

‘The frigid heart cannot understand the burning speech of love . . . the language of love is foreign to one who does not love and is just booming brass and tinkling cymbals’ (Saint Bernard).

It lasts through eternity – it is infinite like God. ‘The measure of our love of God is to love Him without measure’ (Saint Bernard).

There are three sorts of love: that of a mercenary; that of a slave; that of a child. Mercenaries are greedy, slaves are fearful, sons are loving. Each has his own law: mercenaries are impelled by cupidity; slaves are moved by fear, sons are inspired by love. All seek what is proper to them.

It is by a show of deeds that charity is proven. ‘Simon, do you love Me? . . . Feed . . . feed . . .’ (John 21:15). ‘It is your own selves that you should be testing’ (2 Corinthians 13:5).

‘We do not love by word or lips’ (1 John 3:18), but by deeds and truth. See the cloud of witnesses (cf. Hebrews 12:1) . . . they have drunk of the chalice of the Lord and have made friends of God. We do not live in love without there being sorrow . . . roses are gathered among thorns. Love with all one’s heart: that is, courageously in spite of obstacles. Love with all one’s mind: that is, with every thought, supremely and discreetly, for love is discerning. Love with all one’s soul: that is, totally without reservation, deeply without hypocrisy for love is tender. Love with all one’s strength: that is, courageously, doing all, abandoning all, suffering all for God, for love is powerful.

When we do not love God, even if we perform marvels, it is a waste of life’s precious time. ‘Life is lost, if God is not loved’ (Saint Augustine).

‘Through and with charity you will become capable of possessing blessedness, but without it you will never see God. Charity is the summit of all the virtues, it contains the promise of the Kingdom and is the supreme reward of the saints in heaven’ (Saint Augustine).

‘Become a lover and experience what I tell you. Be a person of desires, be a hungry person, be a pilgrim in the solitudes of love, be a thirsty person seeking the waters of your eternal home. Be warm as the sun and you will understand what I say, for if I speak to a cold person, he will not understand my message’ (Saint Augustine).