St. Teresa said that it was a great favor that God should call a soul to love him. Let us, then, love him, since we are called to this love, and let us love him as he desires to be loved. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart.1 The Venerable Louis da Ponte felt ashamed at saying to God, “O Lord, I love Thee above everything; I love Thee more than all creatures, than all riches, than all honors, than all earthly pleasures;” for it seemed to him that it was equivalent to saying, “My God, I love Thee more than straw, and smoke, and dust.”
But God is satisfied that we should love him above all things. Therefore, at least, let us say, “Yea, O Lord! I love Thee more than all the honors of the world, more than all its riches, more than all my kindred and friends; I love Thee more than health, more than my good name, more than science, more than all my comforts; I love Thee more Than everything I possess, more than myself.”
And let us still further say: “O Lord! I value Thy graces and Thy gifts; but more Than all Thy gifts, I love Thyself, who alone art infinite goodness, and a good worthy of infinite love, which exceeds every other good thing. And, therefore, O my God! whatever Thou mayest give me short of Thyself, which is not Thyself, is not sufficient for me; if Thou givest me Thyself, Thou alone art sufficient for me. Let others seek what they will, I will seek nothing but Thee alone, my love, my all. In Thee alone I receive all that I can find or desire.”
The sacred Spouse said, that among all things, she had chosen to love her beloved: My beloved is fair and ruddy, and chosen out of thousands.2 And whom shall we choose to love? Among all our friends of this world, where can we find a friend more worthy of love and more faithful than God, and who has loved us more than God? Let us pray, then, and let us pray constantly, “O Lord! draw me after Thee; for if Thou dost not draw me after Thee, I cannot come to Thee.”3
O Jesus! my Saviour, when will it be that, stripped of any other affection, I may ask and seek for none but Thee! I fain would detach myself from everything; but constantly some importunate affections enter my heart, and draw me away from Thee. Separate me, then, with Thy powerful hand, and make Thyself the one object of all my affections and all my thoughts.
St. Augustine said that he who has God has everything, and he who has not God has nothing.4 What does it profit a rich man that he possesses many treasures of gold and jewels, if he lives apart from God? What does it profit a monarch to extend his dominions, if he has not the grace of God ? What does it profit a man of letters to understand many sciences and languages, if he knows not how to love his God? What does it profit a general to command an army, if he lives the slave of the devil, and far from God? While David was yet king, but in a state of sin, he walked in his gardens, he went to his sports and all other pleasures; but these creatures seemed to say, Where is thy God?5 Wouldst thou seek in us thy happiness? Go seek God, whom thou hast left, for he alone can give thee rest. And thus David confessed that, in the midst of all his delights, he found not peace, and mourned night and day, considering that he was without God. Tears were my bread night and day, while they daily said to me, Where is thy God?6
In the midst of the miseries and toils of this world, who can console us better than Jesus Christ? He alone says, Come to me, all ye that labor, and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you.7 O folly of the worldly! One single tear shed for our sins, one cry, “My God!” uttered in love, by a soul in a state of grace, is worth more than a thousand festivals, a thousand plays, a thousand banquets, in giving contentment to a heart in love with the world. I say again, O folly! and a folly, too, which none can remedy when there comes that death, when it is night, as the Gospel says, The night cometh, in which no man can work.8 Wherefore our Lord warns us “to walk while the light favors us; for the night will come, when no man can walk.”9 Let God alone, then, be all our treasure, all our love; and let all our desire be to please God, who will not suffer us to conquer him in love. He rewards a hundred-fold everything that we do to give him pleasure.
O my God, and all my good! be Thou the ruling power in my soul; and, as I would choose to love Thee above all things, so do Thou grant that in all things I may prefer Thy will to my own pleasure. O my Jesus! I trust in Thy blood, that, through all my life that remains, I may love none but Thee upon this earth, in order that I may come one day to possess Thee forever in the kingdom of the blessed. O holy Virgin! aid me with thy powerful prayers, and carry me to kiss thy feet in paradise.
1"Diliges Dominum Deum tuum ex toto corde tuo." -- Matt. xxii. 37.
2"Dilectus meus candidus et rubicundus, electus ex millibus." -- Cant. v. 10.
3"Trahe me." -- Cant. i. 3.
4Serm. 85, E. B.
5Ubi est Deus tuus?
6"Fuerunt mihi lacrymæ meæ panes die ac nocte, dum dicitur mihi
quotidie: Ubi est Deus tuus ?" -- Ps. xli. 4.
7"Venite ad me omnes, qui laboratis et onerati estis, et ego reficiam vos." -- Matt. xi. 28.
8"Venit nox, quando nemo potest operari." -- John. ix. 4.
9"Ambulate dum lucem habetis, ut non vos tenebræ comprehendant." -- John, xii. 35.