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Oh, How He Loves You

YOU ask me whether Our Lord thinks of you, and whether He looks upon you with love. Yes, He thinks of you, and not only of you, but of the least hair of your head. This is an article of faith. We cannot doubt it. I know well indeed that you do not doubt it, but only express, as you have done the dryness, aridity, and insensibility in which you at present find your soul. “Truly God is in this place, and I knew it not,” said Jacob; that is to say, I had no sentiment of it, it did not appear so to me.

And that God looks upon you with love you have no reason to doubt, for He looks upon the most dreadful sinners in the world lovingly when they have the least true desire to be converted to Him. Tell me, do you not intend to belong to God? Do you not desire to serve Him faithfully? And who gave you this desire, this intention, unless Himself in His loving regard for you?

To examine whether your heart pleases Him is not necessary, but rather whether His Heart pleases you. And if you look upon His Heart, it is impossible but that it will please you, for it is a Heart most sweet, most kind, most condescending, most gracious towards miserable creatures, provided that they acknowledge their misery. And who will not love this royal Heart, so full of tenderness for us?

You remark very well that these temptations happen to you because your heart is without tenderness towards God; for it is quite true that if you had tenderness, you would have consolation, and if you had consolation, you would no longer be in pain. But the love of God does not consist in consolation nor in tenderness, for if it did, then Our Lord would not have loved His Father when He was sad even to death and cried out: “My Father, My Father, why hast Thou abandoned me?” And still it was at that moment He made the greatest act of love which it is pos­sible to conceive.

We would always like to have a little consolation, a little sugar in our tea, that is to say, the feeling of love and tenderness, and consequently consolation; and in like man­ner we would much wish to be without imperfections; but we must have patience to belong to human nature, and not to angelic nature. Our imperfections ought not to please us; on the contrary, we should say with the holy Apostle: “Oh, miserable me! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” But they ought not to astonish us, or to take away our courage; we ought even to derive submission, humility, and distrust of ourselves from them, but not discouragement, nor affliction of heart, much less doubt­fulness of God’s love towards us. Thus, as the weakness and infirmity of a child displease its mother, yet she does not cease to love it, but cherishes it with tenderness and com­passion, so God, while He approves not of our imperfec­tions and venial sins, does not cease to love us tenderly; hence David had reason to say to God: “Have pity on me, O Lord, for I am weak.”

But enough! Live joyful; Our Lord looks upon you with love, and with so much the more tenderness as you are the more feeble. Never permit your mind willingly to entertain thoughts to the contrary; and when they come, regard them not, turn your eyes away from their iniquity, and have recourse to God with a courageous humility, to speak to Him of His ineffable goodness by which He loves us, poor, abject, and miserable as we are.

            Alas! What obligations we are under to Our Lord, and how much confidence we should have that what His mercy has begun in us it will accomplish, and that He will give such increase to this little vessel of oil, the good will we have, that all our vessels will be filled with it, and many others belonging to our neighbors too! But we must close the door of our chamber fast, that is, retire along with our heart more and more into the Divine Goodness.

This article is taken from a chapter in Consoling Thoughts on God and Providence by St. Francis de Sales, which is available from TAN Books.

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