Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Andrew M. Greenwell, Esq.

3/7/2013 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Jesus, I love You simply and only because of Who You Are.

Lent is certainly a time to rid ourselves of disordered loves--mortal and venial sins: breaches greater or less against the natural moral law and against the laws of the Church.  For those starting on the spiritual journey this is the beginning.  An important beginning, but a beginning nevertheless.  But it is a time also to purify our love of God by focusing on those areas where we might motivated by natural loves only or degrees of supernatural love that could stand purifying.

Article Highlights

By Andrew M. Greenwell, Esq.

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

3/7/2013 (1 year ago)

Published in Living Faith

Keywords: Jesus Crucificado, Henri de Lubac, St. Bernard of Clairvaus, On the Love of God, De diligendo Deo, charity. degrees of love, Andrew M. Greenwell


CORPUS CHRISTI, TX (Catholic Online) - Lent is a time to learn to love the Lord Jesus, not for what we might avoid by loving him (Hell), nor by what we might gain by loving him (Heaven).  Though those are reasonable enough motives, and supernatural at that, they are still stained with love of self. 

In its fullness, Lent calls us to go beyond such utilitarian motives to the "useless" motive that is behind all pure love.  Jesus, I love You simply and only because of Who You Are.

In his classic work, De Diligendo Deo (On Loving God), St. Bernard of Clairvaux identified four degrees of love of God. 

The first degree St. Bernard identifies is when man rightly loves God implicitly in and through nature.  This is a wholly natural love.  One might say it is a natural image of God's love: imago caritatis Dei.  There is no disorder involved in this love.  It is a perfect compliance with the natural moral law.  Yet it is hardly a Christian ideal.  And given our fallen state, without grace it is not likely to be achieved.

Proceeding beyond this lowest of all degrees we begin to encounter degrees of love that are based upon supernatural motive and are therefore inspired by grace.  They are therefore potentially salvific.  These loves are theological in nature, and participate, in various ways, in the theological virtue of charity.

The second degree of love identified by St. Bernard is where man loves God, but only for his own (man's) good.  Avoiding hell.  Gaining heaven.  In terms of repentance, at best this sort of motive gives us attrition.  And just like attrition is a half-sister to contrition--true and perfect sorrow--so is this second degree of love a half-sister to true charity as might be found in the third degree, and particularly the fourth degree, of love identified by St. Bernard.

The third degree of love consists of loving God for the sake of God.  This is a pure love, but it is deficient in communion, as it still views reality is consisting of "I" and "Thou."  It is a love of one person loving another, but loving in separateness, not in intimate communion.

The fourth and highest degree of love identified by St. Bernard is when one loves himself only in God.  This love arises only when there is an intimate communion between a man and God.  It is no longer a situation of "I" and "Thou."  It is like a marriage, analogous to the conjugal act, and "I" and "Thou" become a "We."
 
"To reach this state," St. Bernard says, "is to become godlike."  Sic affici, deificari est.  It is reached in its perfection only in Heaven, when we enjoy the beatific vision, but the near perfect in this world--the saints--approach it to a degree even here. 

Jesus, in fact, is the paradigm of this love which unifies, which is "We" and not "I" and "Thou": "All I have is yours," Jesus tells the Father, "and all you have is mine."  (John 17:10)  There is nothing each keep from each other.  The essential core of Jesus' high priestly prayer in the Chapter 17 of the Gospel of John is that we "may be one" in God, like Jesus and the Father are one.

Lent is certainly a time to rid ourselves of disordered loves--mortal and venial sins: breaches greater or less against the natural moral law or the law of the Church.  For those starting on the spiritual journey this is the beginning.  An important beginning, but a beginning nevertheless.

But it is a time also to purify our love of God by focusing on those areas where we might motivated by natural loves or degrees of love that could stand purifying.  This, in fact, is the very purpose behind the traditional disciplines of Lent: alms-giving, fasting, and abstinence.

When we give alms, or fast, or abstain from meat flesh, or adopt some other lenten practice we are not getting rid of sinful things, but we are voluntarily sacrificing natural goods we naturally love for motives that are supernatural.  We are giving these things up to develop the second, third, and fourth degrees of love of God.

Lent, therefore starts us on our journey of repentance, but it also seeks to purify our love of God so that ideally, with the help of our God's grace, after Lent we are in some manner more pure in our love of God than before Lent.

It is difficult to find a more perfect example of pure love of God than the Spanish love poem--a sonnet--to Jesus Crucified, Jesús Crucificado.  Often, it is wrongly attributed to St. Theresa of Avila, St. Francis Xavier, or even St. Ignatius of Loyola or Pedro de los Reyes, but it appears to have been an anonymous poem.  It bears the sure signs of 16th century Spanish piety, with its typical and healthy emphasis on the humanity of Our Lord, though never forgetting his divinity.

In his reflections entitled More Paradoxes, Henri De Lubac calls this poem a "poetic masterpiece," one "that is the most magnificent expression of pure love."  It is quite similar to, though not exactly like, the lovely Latin prayer O Deus, ego amo te, Oh God I Love you, attributed to St. Francis Xavier and translated by such literary giants such as his fellow Jesuit Gerard Manley Hopkins, or the poets Alexander Pope, or John Dryden.

The poem is a good meditation for Lent.  It is impossible to translate it well into English, and so I provide the original Spanish with a more-or-less faithful and literal translation.

No me mueve, mi Dios, para quererte
el cielo que me tienes prometido,
ni me mueve el infierno tan temido
para dejar por eso de ofenderte.


I am not moved, my God, to love you
By the heaven which you've promised
Nor am I moved by the Hell I fear
And for that reason not to offend you.

¡Tú me mueves, Señor!
Muéveme el verte
clavado en una cruz y escarnecido;
muéveme ver tu cuerpo tan herido;
muévenme tus afrentas y tu muerte.


You move me Lord!
It moves me to see you
Humiliated and nailed to a cross;
It moves me to see your body wounded so;
It moves me to behold your suffering and death.

Muévenme en fin, tu amor,
y en tal manera
que aunque no hubiera cielo, yo te amara,
y aunque no hubiera infierno, te temiera.


Ultimately, I am moved by your love
And in such a manner that
Even if there were not heaven, I would love you,
And even if there were not hell, I would fear you.

No me tienes que dar porque te quiera,
pues aunque lo que espero no esperara,
lo mismo que te quiero te quisiera.


You need give me nothing for me to love you,
For even if I had no hope for things hoped for
I would love you the same as I love you.

During Lent, that's the kind of love of God we should strive for, pray for by Good Friday.  ¡Tú y solo tu me mueves, Señor!  You, Lord, and you alone, move me to love you!

-----

Andrew M. Greenwell is an attorney licensed to practice law in Texas, practicing in Corpus Christi, Texas.  He is married with three children.  He maintains a blog entirely devoted to the natural law called Lex Christianorum.  You can contact Andrew at agreenwell@harris-greenwell.com.

---


Pope Francis calls for your 'Prayer and Action'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2014
Respect for Women:
That all cultures may respect the rights and dignity of women.
Vocations: That many young people may accept the Lord’s invitation to consecrate their lives to proclaiming the Gospel.



Comments


More Living Faith

BREAKING THE RULES or IS HE? Pope Francis washes women's feet and those of undetermined religion Watch

Image of This year, Francis arrived at a center for the disabled and elderly in Rome. Francis kneeled down, washed, dried and kissed the feet of a dozen people, some in wheelchairs, other with grossly swollen and disfigured feet.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis has shown little regard for rules in regards to his papacy. The latest controversy now surrounds his washing the feet of 12 disabled and elderly people, some of who were women and non-Catholics. The pre-Easter ritual, Pope Francis is designed to show ... continue reading


'Priestly joy is a priceless treasure,' Pope Francis says Watch

Image of The pope, presiding over the first of two Holy Thursday liturgies, blessed the oils that will be used in the sacraments of baptism, confirmation, ordination and the anointing of the sick.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

If a priest wants to overcome moments of sadness, exhaustion and boredom, in addition to discovering his true identity, he must head for the exit sign, going outside himself to be with God and his people, Pope Francis said during the Chrism Mass at St. Peter's ... continue reading


Who's ready for the most historic canonization in modern history?

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Are you ready for the canonization of Pope John Paul II? Vatican officials are busy preparing for the historic canonization of Popes John Paul II and John XXIII. As they prepare, it's time for use to get ready as well. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - on April 27, a ... continue reading


Pope Francis encourages people to kiss crucifix and recite simple prayer Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis is encouraging people this holy week to pick up a crucifix, kiss it and recite the simple prayer: "Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Lord." He wishes to remind others that Christ's passion "isn't the happy ending of a beautiful fairytale, it isn't the ... continue reading


Pope Francis distributes Bibles, asks Catholics to perform acts of charity

Image of Bibles were handed out to all visitors regardless of their religious affiliation.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis has given out tens of thousands of Bibles to people that he hopes they will keep and use daily. The gifts were distributed in St. Peter's Square following Mass. The gifts came with one string attached however, Pope Francis asked all people to perform an ... continue reading


Pope Francis' Wild Ride - Pope takes happy kids for a spin through St. Peter's Square Watch

Image of Pope Francis kisses Livio Bastianelli and Davide Maria goodbye after their lucky ride.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis gave to kids the ride of a lifetime by inviting them for a spin in the Popemobile around St. Peter's Square. The gesture continues to cement Pope Francis as a man of the people who is most comfortable with the throngs of faithful who seek his wisdom and ... continue reading


Seminary is not for those who do not wish to 'get on with life,' Pope admonishes Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In addressing the Pontifical Leonine College of Anagni, the Pope did not mince words. Pope Francis was forthright in saying that the seminary is not a refuge for those who have "psychological problems" or lack the courage "to get on in life." LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


Pope Francis apologizes for abuse scandal, says Church deserves to pay Watch

Image of Pope Francis embraces a child in St. Peter's Square.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis has made his strongest statement yet about the scandal of child abuse in the Catholic Church. Pope Francis made clear that victims of abuse deserved an apology as well as compensation for what they have suffered.  He reaffirmed that the Church will be ... continue reading


Pope Francis makes special plea, but is asking us - Are you listening? Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis continues to call for aid to the poor as the holiday season ends. The Holy Father has set a goal to eradicate global hunger by distributing food more equitably around the world and he has called on all faithful Catholics to help. It's a call that can't be ... continue reading


'The Devil is here, even in the 21st century,' Pope Francis warns Watch

Image of Life is a constant battle against evil due to the presence of the devil, Pope Francis said, admitting that even he

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The devil is very much alive in the 21st Century, Pope Francis warns, and he often takes the form of gossip. The pope confessed that he himself was tempted to gossip, and the faithful need to stay on their toes. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Speaking in the ... continue reading


All Living Faith News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Isaiah 52:13--53:12
13 Look, my servant will prosper, will grow great, ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 31:2, 6, 12-13, 15-16, 17, 25
2 turn your ear to me, make haste. Be for me a ... Read More

Gospel, John 18:1--19:42
1 After he had said all this, Jesus left with his ... Read More

Reading 2, Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9
14 Since in Jesus, the Son of God, we have the ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for April 18th, 2014 Image

St. Apollonius the Apologist
April 18: Martyr whose Apologia, or defense of the faith, is considered ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter