FIFTH CONFERENCE. LOVE MANIFESTED IN CREATION.
By Rev. Henry Brinkmeyer
Since love is an emotion of the soul, or, under another aspect, an act of the will, it cannot be seen and studied except in its manifestations, in its outward effects: deeds show the existence and the intensity of love. If we wish accordingly to study the uncreated, divine love of Jesus, we must study it in its manifestations, in its deeds, and from its deeds judge of its intensity and worth. Now, divine love has manifested itself principally in three ways—in Creation, in the Incarnation, and in the rewards prepared for the elect in Heaven.
What profound truths are revealed to us when we contemplate the love of God in Creation. He is our Creator. Outside of His own being, there is nothing that was not made by Him. Since He is our Creator, He must love us. The act of creation is an act of the will, and an act of the will is an act of love. He created us because He loved us, and He loves because He created us. It is a circle, a blessed prison from which there is no escape. We know that God must love and does love us, but why, we cannot understand on earth. It is a mystery, and probably in Heaven itself we shall not understand; we shall sink deeper and deeper into the fathomless ocean of His love, but we shall never sound its infinite depths. We know that we are living, but what life is we do not comprehend; in like manner, we know that God is loving us, because He has created us and is preserving us, and preservation is nothing but a continued creation; but why God loves us, we do not fully comprehend, and we need not comprehend. We will cling to His love as to an anchor, though all the rest be involved in darkness and in apparent contradictions, until He raises us up and folds us to the bosom of His love in the bright daylight of eternity.
Creation is therefore, as St. Dionysius says, an outpouring of God's love. What is the nature of that love? what are its principal characteristics? The love of God for us is an eternal love, that is, a love ancient as eternity, and a total love, that is, a love of His whole being.
First, God loves us with an eternal love; there was not a moment in that long, never-beginning course of eternity when God did not love us, and love us singly and individually. Before the world was, when He was all alone, when there was not even an angel before His throne, when there was no light and no darkness, nothing but Himself,— ever since then He has been caressing us with love. There was not an instant in that long eternity when He was not thinking of us. Holy Scripture, as well as Reason, tells us this: In charitate perpetua dilexi te. "With a love eternal have I loved thee." We know it is true, yet we cannot realize what eternal love means. But what a revelation it is! what a light and what a treasure! Each one of us can say to himself: Before the world was created, before there was such a thing as time, when nothing existed but God, when He saw His own beauty and was ravished with it, and was infinitely and absolutely happy, when the Triune God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost were all alone, without relation to any created being whatever, even then He thought of me and loved me, though as yet I had no existence. In seeing His Word, the Son, the Father saw me, and in that very mutual love, which exists between Father and Son, and which is the Holy Ghost, He loved me. He has thus always loved me ever since He began to love Himself, that is, from all eternity! The very thought of it overwhelms us!
But this is not all: since God is eternal, He cannot change; what is eternal is immutable. "Thou art the Lord and Thou dost not change." God's love for us in being eternal is also unchangeable. Here is another mystery! Yet it is a truth as undeniable as God Himself. God's love for us can never change. We change in many ways, even in love. One day we love God more than another, one day we are lukewarm, then fervent, then again our hearts seem void of love. It appears to us that God changes; that at times He gives more freely, loves more tenderly, draws more intensely; but the change is in us, not in God. The earth revolves around the sun, and we make the circle with it, yet all the time we imagine that the sun is moving around us; the seasons come and go, the atmosphere varies, the clouds rise and descend; we imagine that the sun shines less warmly in winter than in summer, more brightly in spring than in autumn, yet the sun itself is, as it were, immovable; day and night throughout the year it sends forth the same amount of light and heat.—So too with God. His love is unchangeable and immovable. If we love Him, He loves us; if we hate Him, He loves us: if we betray Him, He loves us still. His love for us will continue even to the consummation of its work—even to death on the cross, even though it be denied, forsaken, betrayed; for it is eternal, and therefore, independent of time. This, His eternal love, is all beautifully and magnificently typified by the human Heart of Jesus.
Secondly, His love for us is a total love; He loves us with His whole Being. The whole Blessed Trinity loves us with all Its substance and with all Its divine perfections. The whole Divine Heart loves him infinitely to whom It gives least: and the love which It gives to one It does not take from another,—and in fact, It loves each soul as if it were the only one in the world. Yet God has His preferences; He gives to some more than He does to others. Just as in Heaven some are higher and far happier than others. All see and love and possess the same God, and though all are as happy as they wish to be, and none envies his brother or sister,—still as one star differs from another, so has one soul more power, more beauty, more science, more bliss than another. In like manner, God loves with His whole Being each one of His creatures; still He loves far beyond all others His Son Jesus become man,—then He loves Mary above others; then among the saints and angels around His throne, as well as among His children on earth, He truly loves one more than another,—He caresses some more than others with love, He has His more intimate friends even as we have ours. This is a mystery which we cannot understand on earth. Yet, not only faith, but reason itself tells us it must be thus.. He is Master of His gifts, and whether we receive much or little or nothing, we have no right to complain. But we know that He loves us with His Being as God, and that therefore the love which He bears us is the very same love with which He loves Himself, the Word and the Holy Spirit,—the very same love with which He loves His Son Jesus, the Virgin Mother Mary, and all His saints and angels. Let us try to understand, even faintly, what these words express, for if we do we shall not wonder any longer that God is so patient with sinners, and that Jesus died for souls. For, once more, what is God's love for man? It is the love of His whole divine Being,—to apprehend His love would therefore be to apprehend His Being,—to understand His love would be to understand His Being,—and who can understand and comprehend God? who can on earth even look into His face and live? "Thou canst not see My face and live," said God to Moses. Can we be astonished then, at the words of our Lord to St. Catherine of Genoa: "Oh, if you knew how I love a soul! But this will be the last thing you will know in this world; for to understand it, would kill you." Yes, for to apprehend and see His love, would be to apprehend and see His Being; and were we to see God on earth, we should die of love and joy.
Here you have a glimpse of the divine uncreated love of the Sacred Heart. Does it not at first almost frighten you to think that you have been loved from all eternity with such a love? How mysterious, how adorably loving God is! O would that we could die now to see that love, to love it, and to enjoy and possess it forever!