“One momentary flash of [God’s] beauty would separate body and soul by the vehemence of the ecstasy it would cause” (F.W. Faber, The Creator and the Creature, p.150).
I was at a wedding reception this past weekend, and each of the tables had a beautiful bouquet of red roses. As I was looking at one of the individual roses in one of the bouquets, I was amazed at how beautiful the rose was: the color, the shape, the beauty of the rose was exquisite. And then later that weekend Chris (my wife, who loves to buy flowers) brought home four roses which she placed in a vase. Again, as I looked at one of the roses, I was just overwhelmed by its beauty. Later, as I was reflecting on this experience, it occurred to me that as beautiful as a rose is (coming, as it does, from God’s creative hand), it pales mightily in comparison to the infinite beauty of God.
I was thinking, “What does it mean to say that God is infinitely beautiful?” Who can fathom the depth of such beauty? Who really can understand how beautiful God is? Could our senses handle such an experience of God’s beauty? And though we see dimly now as in a mirror, the great promise is that we shall one day see HIM!, in an experience of unimaginable beatific delight. Will not that first gaze on Him who is Infinite beauty last throughout eternity, and fill us with such joy and awe that we will hardly know how to express our gratitude for all that He has done for us? Yet then we will be safely home and our hearts will be filled with the greatest gratitude because they will be filled with His love!
The great commandment is not just to love Him, but to love Him with all our strength and with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our mind. God is very demanding of our love! Who can fathom why He is so desirous of our love? What is our obligation when it comes to loving God?
“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” Deut. 6:4-5 (Old Testament)
Jesus said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” Matt. 22:37 (New Testament)
How do we discharge this duty? Who can do it! A few minutes of prayer and already we’re distracted. Yet we have to try. The Holy Spirit will help us. Father Faber says that one way to increase our love for God is to meditate with joy on God’s attributes, like:
God’s Infinite Holiness
God’s Divine Mercy
His supernal Beauty
God’s Limitless Joy in His own inner life, etc.
In The Creator and the Creature Faber also discusses seven different types of love that will increase our means of loving God, starting with the love of God’s goodness (benevolence) and ending with the love of adoration (chapter 3). Faber is relaying to us some of the ways the saints increased their love of God. Faber spent an enormous amount of time studying how the saints grew in holiness, and he encourages us to try some of these spiritual exercises that reaped immense benefits to many of the saints. Have we not all had the experience of looking at the ocean and sensing by analogy God’s infinity? To contemplate these wonderful attributes of God is to grow more in love with Him. After all, we were made to love Him. The great work of our lives is to love (and serve) Him more, and more, and….
Tom Mulcahy, M.A.
P.S. This post was written a number of years ago.
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