THE PRACTICE OF THE LOVE OF JESUS CHRIST.
XVIII.-HOW MUCH WE ARE OBLIGED TO LOVE JESUS CHRIST.
“Love is a great thing,” says St. Bernard. A great thing, a precious thing is love. Solomon, speaking of the Divine wisdom, which is holy Charity. called it an infinite treasure; because he that possesses Charity is made partaker of the friendship of God: For she is an infinite treasure to men, which they that use become the friends of God-(Wisd. vii. 14). The angelic doctor, St. Thomas, says that Charity is not only the queen of all virtues, but that wherever she reigns she draws along with her, as it were in her train, all other virtues, and directs them all so as to bring us in closer union with God; but Charity is properly that which unites us with God. As St. Bernard tells us: “Charity is a virtue uniting us with God.” And, indeed, it is over and over again signified in the Holy Scriptures that God loves whoever loves Him: I love them that love me-(Prov. viii. 17). If anyone loves me . . . my Father will love him; and we will come to him and make our abode with him-(John xiv. 23). He that abideth in charity abideth in God, and God in him-(l John iv. 16). Behold the beautiful union which Charity produces; it unites the soul with God. Moreover, love supplies strength to practise and to suffer everything for God: Love is strong as death -Cant. viii. 6). St. Augustine writes: ” Nothing is so hard that cannot be subdued by the fire of love.” Wherefore the Saint says that where we love, either the labour is not felt, or if felt, the labour itself is loved: ” In that which is loved either there is no labour, or the labour is loved.”
Let us hear from St. John Chrysostom what are the effects of Divine love in those souls in which it reigns: “When the love of God has taken possession of a soul it produces an insatiable desire to work for the Beloved; insomuch that however many and however vast the works she does, and however prolonged the duration of her service, all seems nothing in her eyes, and she is afflicted at doing so little for God; and were it permitted her to die and consume herself for Him she would be most happy. Hence it is that she esteems herself an unprofitable servant in all that she does; because she is instructed by love to know what God deserves, and sees by this clear light all the defects of her actions, and finds in them motives for confusion and pain, well aware how mean is all she can do for so great a Lord.”
“Oh, how those persons delude themselves,” says St. Francis de Sales, “who place virtue in anything else but loving God! Some,” writes the Saint, “put perfection in austerities. others in alms, others in prayer, others in frequenting the Holy Sacraments. For my part, I know of no other perfection than that of loving God with our whole heart; because all the other virtues, without love, are but a mere heap of stones. And if we do not perfectly enjoy this holy love, the fault lies with us because we do not, once for all, come to the conclusion of giving ourselves wholly to God.”