A Year with the Saints – 1 November


detail of a painting of Saint Teresa of Avila by Peter Paul Rubens, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, AustriaMy God and my Lord! what need was there of commanding us to love Thee? Art Thou not most lovely in Thy infinite perfections? And for the infinite love Thou bear for us, dost Thou not deserve our love? How, then, is it possible that anyone should not love Thee? If there is such a person, it must be because he has not deserved to know Thee. For, a soul that knows God, cannot help loving Him, and loving Him in proportion to his knowledge of Him; so that if he loves Him but little, it is a sign that he knows Him but little; and the more his knowledge increases, the more his love will go on growing. Saint Teresa of Avila

A very elevated soul once gave her director the following account of her interior: “A great flame of love springs up in my heart, Father, when I clearly perceive, in the time of meditation, how the most holy Humanity of the Lord shows how much He deserves our love, by that which He bears to us, while He loves us even as He loves Himself. He manifests this to us:

1) By the great things He has done, and is doing, for us.

2) By the great desire He has to be loved by us, which He proves by so many extraordinary devices of love, and by remaining, as it were, in a state of violence, because He wishes to communicate Himself and make Himself known to us, that He may be loved by us; but as He finds no access, by reason of our want of proper dispositions, He cannot do it.

3) By the patience with which He bears the coolness He meets with from creatures He has loved so much, and which has no effect upon His unalterable constancy of love.

“Under these beams of light, the soul sends forth various affections – sometimes of wonder that the Divine Majesty should be willing that the creature be loved with an infinite love, and the Creator and Lord with a finite and limited love; sometimes of love, but an excessive love, which devours and consumes it, and it would desire the heart of a Seraph to blaze and burn with the love of its God; nay rather would desire to love Him with that same love with which it sees itself loved by Him; and again of insufferable affliction at seeing itself destitute of the knowledge and love of God, which are the height of its perfection, and which would raise it to the Divine Majesty whom it so earnestly desires. This pain is increased by the new perception with which the Lord makes it understood that not loving Him is a positive slight to His power, wisdom, love, goodness, and so many admirable things which He has done and suffered for it. Oh, where can it rest and how not sink into nothingness beneath this light! I assure you, Father, that when God placed before my eyes the great contempt I had shown to my Love, when I did not love Him, I do not know how I remained alive. Surely, if He had not suspended my consciousness, I should have died on the spot.

“Finally, the soul is enkindled with ardent longings and desires that its Beloved may be known, and sends up aspirations and ejaculations to that Infinite Goodness, that it may make itself known in order to be loved. It professes its readiness to cooperate in the aid and advancement of souls, in whatever way may be pleasing to the Divine Majesty. It was thus that the loving Lord revealed Himself to me, His most vile and unworthy servant. And when He mercifully imparted to me any of these graces outside of the time of prayer, as when I was conversing with others, or at work, I fell into a trance and was so far unconscious that when the Sisters spoke to me I did not know what they said, though I always understood the Superioress if she required anything as matter of obedience.” The blessed Jacopone was so much affected at seeing so many lose their souls by offenses against God in the Carnival time that he went about crying, “Love is not loved, Love is not loved, because it is not known.”

Saint Philip Neri, too, often exclaimed: “O Lord, I do not love Thee, because I do not know Thee.”

MLA Citation