Sunday, September 16, 2012

Sunday Thought: the arrow that pierces all things

The saint sees in practice that creatures are nothing in comparison with the One to whom he has given his heart and of the End he has chosen. This is a lover's contempt for all that is not Love itself. To him, it is nothing to give up "all the wealth of his house" for God. "For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as a dung hill, in order that I may gain Christ," St. Paul said, "...that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share in his sufferings."

And by a marvelous reflux, the more he despises creatures as rivals of God, as objects of a possible option against God, the more he cherishes them in and for Him whom he loves, as loved by him and made truly good and worthy of being loved by the love which creates and infuses goodness in all things. For to love a being in God and for God is not to treat it simply as a means or mere occasion to love God, which would amount to dispensing oneself from loving it (and at the same time ceasing truly to love God, who is truly loved only when we love his visible images, too): it is to love this being and consider it as an end, to desire its good because it deserves to be loved in itself and for itself, this very merit and dignity flowing from the sovereign Love and sovereign Lovableness of God. They are thus founded in God and, at the same time, placed beyond all quarrels and vicissitudes. Not to stop short at the creature - that is the guarantee that the creature will be loved unfailingly, transfixed in the root of its lovableness by the arrow which pierces it. In this way the paradox becomes comprehensible: that is the end the saint embraces in a universal love of friendship and piety - a love incomparably more free, but also more tender and happier than the love of concupiscence of the voluptuary or the miser - everything that passes in time and all the weakness and all the beauty of things, everything he has given up.

We would be completely mistaken, as I noted earlier, if we were to give a speculative sense to the formulas of a John of the Cross. There is no worse philosophy than a philosophy that despises nature. A knowledge that despises what is, is itself nothing; a cherry between the teeth holds within it more mystery than the whole of idealistic metaphysics.

Jacques Maritain

No comments: