Sacrificing for love

How many there are who believe they are spiritual and wish to enjoy bodily and spiritual rest in God, not for love of God but for love of themselves. They prefer their illusory consolations to works of obedience and fraternal charity. They dislike whatever deprives them of the rest they think they find in God, but which they really seek in themselves. Their whole concern is to find peace: not, it is true, in things inferior to themselves nor in themselves, but in God. Yet that peace is desired for love of themselves, not for God’s glory. On the contrary, souls that have attained perfect love no longer desire for themselves either virtues, or sensible devotion, or tears, or spiritual consolations, or ecstasies, or prophecies. If they have such gifts, they value them lightly; if they have them not, they do not seek them, for it suffices them to love God alone in God.

There are spiritual men who pass for saints and who rejoice in the progress of their order or their monastery. But so far as their neighbor goes, they are not exactly sad at his progress — for that would be a crime — but they rejoice less at it than at that which concerns themselves. If they will examine their attitude they will discover that they desire their progress or that of their monastery more than God’s glory: they do not love God in Himself. The soul which rejoices in God and in Him alone is willing to do without any consolation. If it could love God a bit more on condition that it never feel any actual devotion, spiritual tranquility, or sweetness, and be deprived of all hope of these gifts in this life or the next, it would accept this exchange. For it loves God no less when it feels no consolation, no actual devotion. These are gifts of God, and we love Him equally whether we feel them or are deprived of them. If, by hypothesis, we even had to lose God for His glory rather than lessening His glory by possessing Him, then the soul consumed with love would desire that by its damnation God receive a bit more glory.   –Blessed Paul Giustiniani quoted by Dom Jean Leclercq in ‘God Alone with God’


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