The Source of Love

 

source of love2

Source of Love, by unknown artist

 

Many people aren’t particularly interested in God. But there is probably no one who is not interested in love. This interest may be distorted—love can be sought where it can’t be found. Still, it is love which, more than anything, occupies us in all that we do and are.

Literature, art, theatre, movies—everything focuses on love, and it can’t be any other way. The human being has an innate longing for love; to be human is to long for love.

God is love. Where love is found, there is God. It is God who stirs this human hunger, and it is God alone who ultimately can satisfy it.

Even where God is not known, love between human beings can be deep, true, faithful. In this case, it is divine and has its origin in God. Still, the human heart can never find complete rest until it has come to know the source of love.

The source is inexhaustible. In God there is always more love to be had. And it is precisely God’s infinity that can satisfy our hunger for love. No matter how great and beautiful human love may be, it only attains its true value if we have found the origin of love.

God will not close our hearts to human love, friendship, tenderness, intimacy. But he will open your heart to the love that will never be extinguished or die, and that love exists in him.

~ A Meditation by Wilfrid Stinissen, O.C.D.

A Pearl of Great Price

Pearl of great price by JVC

A pearl of great price, art by Janice Van Cronkhite

“The higher he ascends the less he understands,
because the cloud is dark which lit up the night;
Whoever knows this remains always in unknowing
and transcending all knowledge.”
~ Saint John of the Cross

The contemplative must lean on pure faith, as Saint John of the Cross affirms insistently. By this teaching, he maintains that our hunger for God in prayer depends in an absolute sense on a belief in his immediate presence to our soul despite what can seem at times the stark emptiness of the dark hour. In this teaching, faith is essential to the contemplative life, just as breathing is to the human person.
The certitude upon which the deeper life of contemplative prayer rests can only be firmly grounded in the unquestioning dispositions of a soul’s deeper faith. Faith establishes the certitude of the divine presence, without which prayer might be thought simply a lonely cry released into the vast reaches of an empty night. By faith our soul knows that prayer draws a mysterious response from God, even when it seems to be an answer of silence. The silence conceals God’s longing for our soul—a truth known often only by faith. It is a faith always rooted in the clear teaching of the Catholic doctrinal tradition, without which no contemplative life can survive.

The truth of God is an inexhaustible mystery and therefore always an incitement and goad to our intelligence. Even with an intensity of faith, we confront the incomprehensibility of God. There is no eventual arrival in prayer at a comfortable knowledge of God. He is infinite love and beyond our human understanding. Contrary to what may be our expectation, greater faith does not grant a more expansive knowledge of God. What it does more often is reduce our knowledge of him to a blind certitude of his living presence. We realize in deeper prayer how real he is and, likewise, how unknown he still is. This inability to overcome barriers of blindness in our knowledge of God is the normal condition of contemplative prayer after a certain point. Over time, we learn more about the limits of knowledge, while at the same time recognizing that there is no limit to love. A loving encounter with God can remain our great desire in prayer even in blindness and incomprehension. And God, indeed, does make the reality of his presence known at times, though not perhaps to our satisfaction. For his presence is not a reality that the soul, even with great love, can embrace as a possession. Always God slips back into hiding, so that our love, too, may be inexhaustible.   

~ A Meditation by Father Donald Haggerty

The Wounding of Her Heart

 

StTeresaAvila5

The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa of Avila, Sculpture by Gian Lorenzo Bernini

Last year I had the blessing to travel to Rome and visited the church of  Santa Maria della Vittoria. This beautiful church is dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary and is known for the masterpiece of Italian sculptor Gian Lorenzo Bernini in the Cornaro Chapel, the Ecstasy of Saint Teresa of Avila. Here above is the photo I took up close of this very impressive sculpture that is so worth of viewing and contemplating. Bernini became inspired by the most famous vision of Saint Teresa, the wounding of her heart.  

 

In Saint Teresa’s own words:

“Sometimes love, like an arrow, is thrust into the deepest part of the heart and the soul doesn’t know what has happened or what it wants, except all it wants is God. The soul feels as if the arrow has been dipped in a poisonous herb that makes it despise itself for love of him. This pierced soul would gladly lose itself for him. You can’t explain this. It’s impossible to exaggerate the way of God wounds the soul, or the agony this causes, for the soul forgets itself. Yet this pain is so exquisite…so delightful…that no other pleasure in life gives greater happiness.

“Oh, how many times in this state do I remember the words of David: ‘As the deer longs for streams of water, so my soul longs for you, O God.’ I experience it literally when he wounds me.

“Sometimes in this state I saw a vision: an angel in bodily form, standing very close to me on my left side. The angel was not large, but small and very beautiful. His face was so aflame that I thought he must be a cherub, one of the highest order of angels, who seem to be made of fire.

“I saw that his hands held a great golden dart, and at the end of the iron tip fire plumed. The angel plunged the flaming dart through my heart again and again until it penetrated my innermost core. When he withdrew it, it felt like he was carrying the deepest part of me away with him. He left me on fire, consumed with the immense love of God. The pain was so fierce that it made me moan, and its sweetness so utterly divine it abolished any desire to take it away; nor is the soul content with anything but God.”