IT betrays a most consummate perversity to delight in those things which we are simply intended to use, and only to make use of those which we ought to enjoy. To enjoy is to love a thing for its own sake; to use it is to desire it not for itself, but for the sake of something else. He is evil who merely uses the Creator and enjoys the creature. He loves God not for Himself, but out of regard for other things, and for the benefits which he hopes for from Him, while he loves the creature for its own sake. Such a one is a transgressor of the law, and perverts the order of love. He is unworthy of God who loves his own things better than God.

Love has its proper end; and that which is its final object is that which we truly love; while we merely use all other means, not loving them for themselves, but because they are the means which are provided in order to attain the final end that we desire, and wherein our love becomes tranquil and at rest.

What greater wrong, then, canst thou do to thy God, O my soul, than by loving His gifts more than the very Creator Himself?  If thou love not God for Himself, but for that which He bestows upon thee, and for what thou hopest from Him, dost not thou prefer and esteem the gift more than the Giver?  The wife does a wrong to her husband when she loves the jewels and presents of her husband more than himself.

There are many men who love others, not for their riches, or their favours, or for the goods which they possess, since those who love have a greater abundance of such things than the objects of their regard; but they love them for their goodness, and for their pleasant and sweet conversation. Why, then, O Lord, should I not act towards Thee as one man does towards another, in loving Thee for what Thou art, without seeking my own interest?  I love Thee as much as I am able, and to the utmost that is possible for me; and yet, with all this, I am dissatisfied with the small amount of my affection for Thee; since I should require to possess infinite power to be able to love Thee without limit.

If by any impossible chance it fell to my choice either to be placed in glory rejoicing in the vision of Thy Divine Essence, after having offended Thee; or to burn in hell, suffering all the pains which the damned endure, while still near Thee, I would rather be tormented in the deepest pit of hell, while retaining Thy Divine grace, than rejoice in Thy glory whilst Thou wert angry with me. My glory is to satisfy Thee, and my hell is to have Thee displeased with me.

Grant me, O Lord, Thy grace, and deal with me as Thou wilt. Give me Thy holy love, and dispose of me according to Thy will; which, even if I have to suffer all the torments of hell, would be to me as if I were in Paradise, so long as I serve Thee there and do Thy will. If I turn away in horror from that unhappy place, it is not so much on account of the punishment that I dread it as because I know that those who dwell there are Thy enemies; and if I love eternal blessedness and heavenly glory, I do not desire it so much for my own gratification and delight, as because I know that those who there rejoice in Thee are Thy friends, and are assured and very certain that they can never offend Thee.

This only does my soul desire, that it should never displease Thee, and that it should ever persevere in Thy holy love. Make me but secure of Thy friendship, for it is enough for me to have Thee near me to be sure that I should never be sorrowful, nor receive annoyance through anything that could happen to me. I only desire Thee, only love Thee; my greatest bliss is to draw near to Thee, and this alone suffices me.

O how gentle is Thy Spirit, O Lord! how sweet Thy converse! and how worthy art Thou of being loved for Thyself! He is a slave and the vilest hireling who seeks any other thing than Thee. Is Thy being the highest good and infinite beneficence so small a thing that Thou dost not deserve to be loved except for what Thou possessest and canst bestow upon us?  O what a wrong does he commit against Thee who only serves Thee and keeps Thy commandments, not so much from love of Thee, nor because Thou commandest him, as for his own private benefit!

In the book of Deuteronomy after Moses had said that we ought to love Thee, he adds: "And these words which I command thee this day shall be in thy heart".[Deuteronomy vi. 6.] Herein he gives us to understand that the cause and principal reason why we ought to love Thee is because Thou commandest and desirest it. Not merely for the blessings which we hope for from Thee, nor because Thou dost threaten with punishment those who love Thee not, but most chiefly because Thou commandest it, and because it is Thy will that we should love Thee. By whom does a father desire his work to be done but by the son who possesses love for him?  For whom dost Thou, my God, desire glory but for those who love Thee?  Thy Apostle saith: "That eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor hath it entered into the heart of man what things God hath prepared for them that love Him".[1 Corintians ii. 9.] For those who love Thee, O Lord, Thou hast Thy blessedness laid up in store; and those sons who serve Thee for love's sake shall enter into it.

He who seeks Thee only is able to find Thee, and with Thee shall possess all good things. Thee only do I love and desire, and Thou only art the reward of all my labours, according to that which Thou saidst to the patriarch Abraham: "I am thy reward exceeding great"[Genesis xv. 1.] Thou art that most abundant and full reward of which David speaks when addressing Thee in the psalm: "I have inclined my heart to do Thy justifications for ever, for the reward". [Psalms cxviii. 112., note 1] Thou, my soul, oughtest to love freely Him Who gratuitously purchased thee, giving the price of thy redemption, without which thou couldst not have deserved to be redeemed. Thou shouldst not desire to seek anything further, since He alone is sufficient for thee.

However covetous thou mayest be, thou oughtest to be content with Him only. Although thy covetousness may desire to possess heaven and earth, He is much more Who made both the heavens and the earth. In Him alone thou wilt possess all that thou canst desire, and all that thou canst claim. "Forgive Thy people, O Lord," said Moses to God, "or blot me out of the Book of Life."[Exodus xxxii, 32.] Moses did not desire to be separated from the love of God, but he so loved God and his neighbours that for the love of them he was willing to be deprived of that glory which was to his own advantage and interest; being satisfied with the love of God alone.

1. From the Vulgate, which follows the LXX di antameipsin instead of the Hebrew [Hebrew text], i.e., usque ad finem. The passage is correctly rendered in the translation of Cipriano de Valera: "Mi corazon incliné à poner por obra tus estatutos de continuo, hasta el fin". [back]