Presence of God – O Lord, grant that by charity I may really participate in Your life of love.
Faith makes us adhere to God by means of knowledge; hence, it is especially related to our intellect. Hope makes us adhere to God by the conviction that we will one day possess Him in heaven, and therefore, it is related to our desire for happiness. But charity seizes our entire being, and by means of love, casts it into God. Faith tells us who God is, and reveals the mystery of His intimate life which we are called to share; hope tells us that this God wills to be our Good for all eternity, but charity enables us to attain this immediately by the unitive force proper to it. St. Thomas says: “Charity makes man tend to God by uniting his affection to God in such a way that man no longer lives for himself, but for God” (Summa Theologica IIa IIae, q.17, a.6, ad 3).
But what is this charity which has the power to unite us to God, to make us live in such intimate relationship with Him that “he that abideth in charity, abideth in God, and God in him” (1 John 4:16)? It is a created participation in the charity, the infinite love with which God loves Himself, that is, the love with which the Father loves the Son, with which the Son loves the Father, and by which each loves the other in the Holy Spirit. Through charity we are called to enter into this divine current, into this circle of eternal love which unites the three Persons of the Blessed Trinity to one another.
Faith has already brought us into the intimacy of the divine life by making us share in the knowledge God has of Himself; but charity makes us penetrate even further by inserting us, as it were, into that movement of love, of incomparable friendship which exists in the bosom of the Blessed Trinity. Charity plunges us into the very center of God’s intimate life; it enables us to share in the infinite love of the three divine Persons: in the intimate love of the Father for the Son, and of the Son for the Father; it enables us to love the Father and the Son in the love of the Holy Spirit.
“Oh my soul, reflect upon 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 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?
“O love, in how many places would I fain repeat this word, for it alone makes me bold enough to say with the spouse in the Canticle: ‘I have loved my Beloved.’ It allows me to think that You, my God, my Spouse and my Good, have need of me.
“But love must not be wrought in our imagination but must be proved by works…. Oh Jesus, what will a soul inflamed with Your love not do? Those who really love You, love all good, seek all good, help forward all good, praise all good, and invariably join forces with good men and help and defend them. They love only truth and things worthy of love. It is not possible that one who really and truly loves You can love the vanities of earth; his only desire is to please You. He is dying with longing for You to love him, and so would give his life to learn how he may please You better.
“O Lord, be pleased to grant me this love before You take me from this life. It will be a great comfort at the hour of death to realize that I shall be judged by You whom I have loved above all things. Then I shall be able to go to meet You with confidence, even though burdened with my debts, for I shall not be going into a foreign land but into my own country, into the kingdom of Him whom I have loved so much and who likewise has so much loved me” (cf. Teresa of Jesus, Exclamations of the Soul to God, 7 – Conceptions of the Love of God, 4 – Interior Castle III, 1 – Way of Perfection, 40).
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Art for this post on charity: La transverbération de Sainte Thérèse (The Transverberation of St. Teresa [de Avila]), Josefa de Óbidos, 1672, PD-US, author’s life plus 100 years or less, published in the U.S. prior to January 1, 1923, Wikimedia Commons. Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, mirror from open source material.