THE PRACTICE OF THE LOVE OF JESUS CHRIST
“Charity hopeth all things”
HE THAT LOVES JESUS CHRIST HOPES FOR ALL THINGS FROM HIM
Charity hopeth all things. St. Thomas, with the Master of the Sentences, defines Christian Hope to be a “sure expectation of eternal happiness.” Its certainty arises from the infallible promise of God to give eternal life to His faithful servants. Now Charity, by taking away sin, at the same time takes away all obstacles to our obtaining the happiness of the Blessed; hence the greater our Charity the greater also and firmer is our Hope; Hope, on the other hand, can in no way interfere with the purity of love, because, according to the observation of St. Denis the Areopagite, love tends naturally to union with the object beloved; or, as St. Augustine asserts in stronger terms, love itself is like a chain of gold that links together the hearts of the lover and the loved. “Love is as it were a kind of bond uniting two together.” And as this union can never be effected at a distance, the person that loves always longs for the presence of the object of his love. The Sacred Spouse languished in the absence of her Beloved, and entreated her companions to acquaint Him with her sorrow, that He might come and console her with His presence: I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, if you find my beloved, that you tell him that I languish with love (Cant. v. 8). A soul that loves Jesus Christ exceedingly cannot but desire and hope, as long as she remains on earth, to go without delay and be united to her beloved Lord in Heaven.
Thus we see that the desire to go and see God in Heaven, not so much for the delight we shall experience in loving God, as for the pleasure we shall afford God by loving Him, is pure and perfect love. Neither is the joy of the Blessed in Heaven any hindrance to the purity of their love; such joy is inseparable from their love; but they take far more satisfaction in their love of God than in the joy that it affords them. Someone will, perhaps, say: But the desire of a reward is rather a love of concupiscence than a love of friendship. We must therefore make a distinction between temporal rewards promised by men, and the eternal rewards of Paradise promised by God to those who love Him: the rewards given by man are distinct from and independent of their own persons, since they do not bestow themselves, but only their goods, when they would remunerate others; on the contrary, the principal reward which God gives to the Blessed is the gift of Himself: I am thy reward exceeding great (Gen. xv.1). Hence to desire Heaven is the same thing as to desire God, Who is our last end.