Charity the Essence of Sanctity
Presence of God – I place myself in the presence of God, considering that He is infinite charity: “Deus caritas est,” God is charity.
“Be you, therefore, perfect, as also Your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). Before we can begin to imitate God, we must know who He is, and in what His perfection consists. Holy Scripture tells us, God is charity (1 John 4:16). It does not say, “in God there is charity,” but “God is charity,” that is, everything in God is love, God is essentially love. Now love, even human love, is a desire for what is good; to love is to desire the good of another; it is the act by which the will is drawn toward the good. In God, the infinite Being, love is an infinite will for good, and is directed toward infinite good, the divine essence which God possesses and in which He delights. This love, which is God, is, therefore, an infinite, complacent love of His own infinite goodness. Yet His embrace extends even to the creatures whom He creates, to communicate to them His own goodness and happiness. Infinite charity, which is God, turns therefore to creatures, bringing them into existence by an act of love which does not stop at the limited good they possess but brings them back to the infinite good, the Trinity. In other words, God creates and loves them for His own glory.
We, poor creatures, are called to share in this sublime life of love which is God, and grace has been given us for this express purpose. St. Paul exhorts us, “Be ye, therefore, followers of God, as most dear children, and walk in love” (Ephesians 5:1,2).
If we are to imitate God, our supernatural life must be essentially love, that is, a love of benevolence for God and a will directed toward good, loving that infinite good which He is, and loving all creatures for Him and in Him.
O my God, make me understand, even in a small degree, Your infinite charity. You are all charity and everything in you is charity. Charity is Your Being, Your Essence, Your Life. You are that sovereign charity by which You love Yourself ab aeterno, from all eternity, and take pleasure in Yourself. O Father, You love the Word, the figure of Your substance. O Word, You love the Father from whom you proceed. This reciprocal charity by which You, O God, love Yourself is so perfect that it constitutes a Person, the third Person of the Most Holy Trinity, the Holy Spirit.
“O my soul, reflect on the great delight and the great love which the Father has in knowing His Son and the Son in knowing His Father and the ardor with which the Holy Spirit unites with Them, and how none of These can cease from this love and knowledge since They are One and the same. These sovereign Persons know each other, love each other and delight in each other. What need, then, have They of my love? Why do You seek it, my God, or what do You gain by it?” (Teresa of Jesus, Exclamations of the Soul to God, 7)
Yet, O Most Holy Trinity, You who are all—because You are infinite charity and enjoy from all eternity the reciprocal love of Your divine Persons—have willed, in time, to diffuse Your love, and to communicate Your infinite good to us Your creatures. By an act of Your love, You brought us out of nothing; Your love is our first principle, the first principle of all things. Everything receives life from it; it is the cause of our existence and we, like little fishes, swim and live in the ocean of Your infinite love.
But, Lord, of what use can we, poor creatures, be to You, who possess within Yourself all love, all felicity, all glory? I understand: You have created us to share with us Your infinite goodness, to bring us back to the bosom of the infinite charity which is You Yourself, from whom we have received life. You have created us for the glory of the Most Holy Trinity, to communicate to us Your life of infinite love and to give us a part in it.
“O my God and my mercy! What shall I do, so as not to destroy the effect of the wonders which You deign to work in me? O Lord, how smooth are Your paths! Yet who will walk them without fear? I fear to live without serving You, yet when I set out to serve You I find no way of doing so that satisfies me or can pay any part of what I owe. I feel that I would gladly spend myself wholly in Your service, and yet when I consider my wretchedness, I realize that I can do nothing good unless You help me” (Teresa of Jesus, Exclamations of the Soul to God, 1).
Without Your help, indeed, how can I obtain a treasure as precious as charity? O my God, if You want my whole life to be one of charity, it is absolutely necessary that You, charity itself, come to transform my poor soul. My faults—selfishness, pride, sensuality, coldness, avarice, sloth—all are obstacles to Your charity which should triumph in me. Give me grace to remove these obstacles with generosity, so that Your infinite charity may take entire possession of my nothingness.
Note from Dan: This post “Charity the Essence of Sanctity” is provided courtesy of Baronius Press and contains one of two meditations for the day. If you would like to get the full meditation from one of the best daily meditation works ever compiled, you can learn more here: Divine Intimacy. Please honor those who support us by purchasing and promoting their products.
Art: God is Love – A heart formed with candles, 13 March 2010, Wingchi Poon, own work, CCA-SA 3.0 Unported, Wikimedia Commons. Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, mirror from open source material.