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.

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: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for July 2014
Sports:
That sports may always be occasions of human fraternity and growth.
Lay Missionaries: That the Holy Spirit may support the work of the laity who proclaim the Gospel in the poorest countries.



Comments


More Living Faith

Why do Catholics love the crucifix so much?

Image of The crucifix is an important part of our Catholic identity.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The crucifix is a quintessentially Catholic icon. Although other Christians fondly and proudly display the cross, it is the crucifix that is largely unique to the Catholics. Why is the symbol of the death of Christ so important to Catholics? LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic ... continue reading


What is the Kingdom of God? How do We Live in it Now? Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

In Jesus Christ, the Kingdom has been inaugurated. We are members of the Body of Christ which makes it present as seed and sign in a world which is in labor, awaiting a new birth. We are a people on mission in that world, waiting to be fully liberated from the ... continue reading


Nuclear weapons still threaten the world

Image of Nuclear weapons still threaten the world.

By Tony Magliano

You are within 30 minutes of being incinerated from nuclear weapons! If you live in or near a large U.S. city or major military installation, you are in harm's way. And when considering that radiation fallout from a nuclear attack would hurt virtually everyone, we are ... continue reading


POPE: 'A man who is alone ends up bitter, not fruitful, and he gossips about others' Watch

Image of The pope told the priests that

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

"A man who is alone ends up bitter, not fruitful, and he gossips about others." Those are the words of the Pope, speaking out during a meeting with 123 priests working in the Diocese of Caserta along with 19 bishops from Italy's Campania region this past ... continue reading


UPROOTED: Largest displacement of worldwide religious communities reached last year Watch

Image of In the nation of Central African Republic, widespread lawlessness and violence between Christians and Muslims resulted in at least 700 deaths in Bangui in December -- alone.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The year of 2013 turned out to be a very grim year indeed for religious tolerance and diversity. Millions of Christians, Muslims, Hindus, and others representing a range of faiths were forced from their homes on account of their religious beliefs. LOS ANGELES, ... continue reading


Papal visit to US not confirmed, but archbishop confident

Image of Pope Francis coming to Philly next September!

By Catholic News Agency (News Consortium)

Lets all Pray that Pope Francis comes to visit us here in the United States of America. Philadelphia, PA  (CNA/EWTN) - Reports that Pope Francis will travel to the U.S. for the World Meeting of Families in 2015 remain unconfirmed by the Vatican; however, ... continue reading


Catholic should be a way of life, not just a Sunday thing

Image of Catholic means universal. It's time to apply that to how we live.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

To know the way forward, we must look to the past. As the very first chapter Ecclesiastes tells us, "there is no new thing under the sun," meaning that everything we think of as new is actually old and whatever we can imagine has been imagined, and even tried by those ... continue reading


Let the Holy Spirit Teach us How to Become Prayer Watch

Image of St. Paul wrote to the early Christians in Greece, telling them to pray without ceasing. (1 Th. 5:16-19) They did not live lives of ease, in any sense of the word. They had families, occupations, bills, and yes, difficulties and struggles beyond what many of us could imagine. They also suffered greatly for their faith. Yet, he instructed them to Pray without ceasing. Did he really mean it? I believe that he did.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

When the Spirit dwells in a person, from the moment in which that person has become prayer, he never leaves him. For the Spirit himself never ceases to pray in him. Whether the person is asleep or awake, prayer never from then on departs from his soul. Whether he ... continue reading


Pope Francis meets, blesses Sudanese woman condemned to death for faith Watch

Image of Meriam Ibrahim was sentenced to death for apostasy, but has since escaped her sentence and left Sudan.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis has met and blessed the Sudanese woman who was recently condemned to death for her faith. Meriam Ibrahim was condemned to death in Sudan for the crime of apostasy. VATICAN CITY (Catholic Online) - Pope Francis has met and blessed Meriam Ibrahim at the ... continue reading


MIRACLE IN ENGLAND: God's face smiles over Norfolk, or is it Sean Connery or Karl Marx? Watch

Image of This image is suspected to show the face of God in clouds over Norfolk, however, it may also be the face of Karl Marx or Sean Connery.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The English have long thought themselves special, and a new photograph from Norfolk in England may just prove that God does indeed smile on the English. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Amateur photographer Jeremy Fletcher took an image that shows a face in ... 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, Jeremiah 18:1-6
1 The word that came to Jeremiah from Yahweh as ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 146:1-2, 2-4, 5-6
1 Alleluia! Praise Yahweh, my soul!2 I ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 13:47-53
47 'Again, the kingdom of Heaven is like a dragnet ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for July 31st, 2014 Image

St. Ignatius Loyola
July 31: St. Ignatius was born in the family castle in Guipúzcoa, Spain, ... 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