Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Andrew M. Greenwell, Esq.

3/7/2013 (2 years 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 (2 years 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.

ˇTú me mueves, Seńor!
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.  ˇTú y solo tu me mueves, Seńor!  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'


Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for June 2015
Universal:
That immigrants and refugees may find welcome and respect in the countries to which they come.
Evangelization: That the personal encounter with Jesus may arouse in many young people the desire to offer their own lives in priesthood or consecrated life.


Rosaries, Crosses, Prayer Cards and more... by Catholic Shopping .com


Comments


More Living Faith

Amazing beautiful ancient mosaic church floor found under courtyard of current church Watch

Image of

By Atarah Haely (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Archaeologists have discovered an ancient decorated mosaic floor of an ancient church, underneath its modern incarnation, during an excavation. The Christian mosaic is believed to be about 1,700-years-old and part of the old Byzantine church of the fourth century. ... continue reading


Remembering another great encyclical!

Image of

By Tony Magliano

While Pope Francis' new encyclical Laudato, Si' is enjoying wide publicity, few people are aware this year marks the 20th anniversary of another powerfully prophetic social justice and peace encyclical: Evangelium Vitae ("The Gospel of Life"). Trying to awaken the ... continue reading


Former 'Accountant of Auschwitz' asks God for forgiveness during trial facing 300,000 counts of accessory to murder Watch

Image of Oscar Groening,

By Linky C. (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Former Auschwitz guard, Oscar Groening has asked for God's forgiveness after serving Austchwitz during his testimony in court, last Wednesday. The 94-year-old worked for Austchwitz when he was just 13 and later became the "Accountant of Auschwitz." MUNTINLUPA, ... continue reading


U.S. archbishops express excitement over pending papal visit Watch

Image of After visiting Cuba, the Pope will visit three major cities on the U.S. east coast - Washington, D.C., New York, and Philadelphia - and the respective bishops of those cities were indeed jubilant.

By Matt Hadro (CNA/EWTN News)

Looking forward to Pope Francis' September visit to the U.S., the nation's bishops were exuberant on Tuesday, as the itinerary for the apostolic voyage was released. Washington D.C. (CNA/EWTN News) - Fewer than three months before the scheduled visit, Archbishop ... continue reading


Pope Francis to meet with president, prisoners and homeless during U.S. visit Watch

Image of Pope Francis will celebrate Mass at Madison Square Garden and preside over a vespers service at the newly spruced-up St. Patrick's Cathedral.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis' visit to both the United States and Cuba will be hectic. In addition to meeting with political officials in both countries, the Pontiff will meet with prisoners at the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility in Philadelphia and the homeless at the ... continue reading


Learning from Elijah: Shipwreck, Struggle and the Broom Tree

Image of Elijah under the broom tree

By Deacon Keith Fournier

There are lessons that can only be learned under the broom tree. The lesson St Paul gave to the early Christians in Greece about the reality of being shipwrecked and experiencing daily struggles in life is critical in our age. God is searching for men and ... continue reading


Head of Russian Orthodox Church to meet with Pope Francis to repair rift between branches Watch

Image of Patriarch Kirill of Moscow is a Russian Orthodox bishop. He became Patriarch of Moscow and all Rus' and Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church in February of 2009.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It is definitely going to happen -- but where and when has yet to be decided. The head of the Russian Orthodox Church and Pope Francis have agreed to meet in an attempt to repair the major rift between the Eastern and Western branches of Christianity. LOS ... continue reading


Pope Francis explains the nature of faith - the whole Gospel is written in its light Watch

Image of Francis lamented that

By CNA/EWTN News

The Pope focused on the virtue of faith during his Sunday Angelus address, saying the whole gospel is written in its light. VATICAN CITY (CNA/EWTN News) - "Faith is this: to touch Jesus and to draw from him the grace which saves," Pope Francis explained June 28 at ... continue reading


Pope Francis admonishes archbishops to be convinced by what themselves teach Watch

Image of The Pope added that, in being witnesses to the faith, archbishops should practice what they preach.

By CNA/EWTN News

During his Mass for the feast of Saints Peter and Paul on Monday, Pope Francis called on the Church's new archbishops to be courageous witnesses who are not ashamed of Christ, and who are convinced by what they themselves teach. VATICAN CITY (CNA/EWTN News) - ... continue reading


Parents of St. Therese of Lisieux to be canonized by Pope Francis later this year Watch

Image of The canonizations of the married couple will coincide with the Synod on the Family, to be held on Oct. 4-25.

By CNA/EWTN News

Pope Francis formally approved on Saturday the decrees necessary for Blesseds Louis and Zelie Martin - known for being the parents of St. Therese of Lisieux - to be declared saints later this year. VATICAN CITY (CNA/EWTN News) - The two blesseds will be the first ... 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, Genesis 27:1-5, 15-29
1 When Isaac had grown old, and his eyes were so weak ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 135:1-2, 3-4, 5-6
1 Alleluia! Praise the name of Yahweh, you who serve ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 9:14-17
14 Then John's disciples came to him and said, 'Why ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for July 4th, 2015 Image

St. Elizabeth of Portugal
July 4: Elizabeth was a Spanish princess who was given in marriage to ... 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