Thursday, November 22, 2007

the Triumph of Love

Tom at Disputation recently had a brief post with the exhortation to "Love the Church"

Three little words

I was recently reminded of the following bit of advice:
Love the Church.
It seems to me that it's particularly good advice for people who are discerning a religious or clerical vocation. A priest or religious who doesn't love the Church will bring grief upon everyone, themselves most of all.

And by "the Church," I mean the Church as she is, holy and without blemish and filled to the gills with sinners.

Today's reading from D.I. ties into that and expands on it.

DIVINE INTIMACY by Fr Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen O.C.D.
#368 The Triumph of Love

The love of a soul completely surrendered to God is truly pure love, because it has been purged of the least affection for creatures and of all return on self; it is pure love because it goes straight and swiftly to God through all the circumstances of life, without stopping at anything created. The soul makes use of every happening, all its duties, all its actions to love God, which simply means that it gives itself to Him by serving Him in the way most pleasing to Him. It no longer needs to apply itself, as formerly, to the practice of this or that virtue, since it has acquired all of them in a perfect manner, and "whether its commerce be with temporal things or whether its exercise be concerning spiritual things, a soul in this case can ever say that its exercise is now in loving alone" (John of the Cross, Spiritual Canticle, 28,9). The soul no longer has need of the spur and stimulus of an exterior law to guide it, because its law is now the great love it bears within itself, which impels it in all things to seek and to will the divine good pleasure. "Love and do what you will," said St. Augustine; "For the just man there is not law," wrote St. John of the Cross at the summit of the Mount of Perfection. Far from implying that love dispenses from the observance of the law, from duties and obedience, these words signify rather, tat love, when it is truly perfect, replaces and completes all law, having in itself the power to draw the soul to the highest perfection.

Of this perfect and most pure love, which concentrates upon God all the powers of the soul without anything being able to draw them away; of this love which wounds the heart of God directly, passing beyond all that is of earth, St. John of the Cross writes: "A very little of this pure love is more precious, in the sight of God and the soul, and of greater profit to the Church ... than are all these [other] works together" (Spiritual Canticle, 29.2).

"O Jesus, I do not ask for riches or glory, not even for the glory of heaven. ... I ask only for love. One thought is mine, henceforth, dear Jesus, it is to love Thee! ... I love Thee, I love my Mother the Church, and I bear in mind that 'the least act of pure love is of more value to her than all other works together.' But does this pure love really exist in my heart? ...(Teresa of the Child Jesus).

So often we hear disobedience justified as the placing of love above mere rule. Yet, such is a deception, as the spiritual writers point out, that love united to the Lord our God will make anything but the perfect fulfillment of the rule unthinkable, for do oppose rule would be to oppose God. But what I primarily have keyed on is the connection of love, the summit of the contemplative life, and the Dominican charism of preaching. That a drop of this pure love would be of more value than all the preaching done by Dominicans of all time, it places the work of St. Dominic in a perspective I've not thought of before. The two saints, Dominic and Francis, we think of as having done so much for the restoration of the faith; yet, based on the above, it was their prayer life that accomplished and made this possible; their union being of greater value than their works. Perhaps this stands to reason, and is obvious to most and I am a little slow to perceive this, but in the analogy of knowledge of the mother, father, and child, this knowledge has moved from the "known by him because she said so" side to the "known by her because she did so" side.

Those "least acts of pure love" overflowed in Ss. Dominic, Aquinas, Ferrer, Hyacinth, Catherine, little Margaret, and so many others. Ours is an Order which asks that we "share the fruits of contemplation," let us renew our efforts to enter into the Divine Life, for without Him, we can do nothing; or worse.

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