“Let us therefore love God because He first hath loved us.”
-1 John 4:19
St. Teresa said that it was a great favor that God should call a soul to love Him. Let us then love Him, since we are called to this love, and let us love Him as He desires to be loved. “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart.” The venerable De Ponte felt ashamed at saying to God, “O Lord, I love Thee more than all creatures, than all riches, than all honors, than all earthly pleasures,” for it seemed to him that it was equivalent to saying, “My God, I love Thee more than straw and smoke and dust.”
But God is satisfied that we should love Him above all things. Therefore, at least let us say, “Yea, O Lord, I love Thee more than all the honors of the world, more than all its riches, more than all my kindred and friends. I love Thee more than health, more than my good name, more than knowledge, more than all my comforts. I love Thee more than everything I possess, more than myself.”
And further still, let us say:
“O Lord, I value Thy graces and Thy gifts, but more than all Thy gifts, I love Thee Thyself, who alone art infinite goodness and a Good worthy of infinite love, which exceeds every other good thing. And, therefore, O my God, whatever Thou mayest give me short of Thyself, which is not Thyself, is not sufficient for me. If Thou givest me Thyself, Thou alone art sufficient for me. Let others seek what they will; I will seek nothing but Thee alone, my Love, my All! In Thee alone I receive all that I can find or desire.”
O Jesus, my Savior, when will it be that, stripped of any other affection, I may ask and seek for none but Thee! I would gladly detach myself from everything, but some importunate affections are ever entering my heart, to draw me away from Thee. Keep me, then, with Thy powerful hand, and make Thyself the one object of all my affections and all my thoughts.
St. Augustine said that he who has God has everything, and he who has not God has nothing. What does it profit a rich man that he possess many treasures of gold and jewels, if he lives apart from God? What does it profit a monarch to extend his dominions, if he has not the grace of God? What does it profit a man of letters to understand many sciences and languages, if he knows not how to love his God? What does it profit a general to command an army, if he lives the slave of the devil and far from God?
While David was yet king, but in the state of sin, he walked in his gardens, he went to his sports and all other pleasures, but these creatures seemed to say, “Where is thy God? Wouldst thou seek in us thy happiness? Go seek God, whom thou hast left, for He alone can give thee rest.” And thus David confessed that in the midst of all his delights he found not peace and mourned night and day, considering that he was without God. “Tears were my bread, night and day, while they daily said to me, Where is now thy God?” (Ps. 41:4).
In the midst of the miseries and toils of this world, who can console us better than Jesus Christ? He alone says, “Come to me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you” (Matt. 11:28). Oh, folly of the worldly! One single tear shed for our sins, one cry, “My God!” uttered with love by a soul in the state of grace, is worth more to it than a thousand festivals, a thousand banquets, in giving contentment to a heart that is in love with the world.
I say again, “Oh, folly!” And a folly, too, which none can remedy when there comes that death, when it is night, as the Gospel says, “The night cometh, in which no man can work” (John 9:4). Wherefore our Lord warns us to walk while we have the light, for the night will come when no man can walk. Let God alone, then, be all our treasure, all our love, and let all our desire to please God, who will not suffer us to outdo Him in love. He rewards a hundredfold everything that we do to please Him.