Continued from yesterday...
Chapter 2. How to Love God
How can we acquire the love of God?
First of all by prayer. Let us ask God every day and in every prayer we ever say to make us love Him. Let us offer every good act we do that He may give us this, the greatest of all graces, His blessed love.
In our morning prayers and evening prayers, in our Rosary, at Mass, in our Communions, let it be our first, our most earnest petition, that we may love God. Let us never say any prayer in which this is not our outstanding wish and intention.
Our Lord has promised over and over again and in the clearest terms to hear our prayers. He cannot break His word.
There is nothing that God gives us so willingly, so generously as His love. He wishes to give us this great grace even more than we wish to receive it. All we have to do is ask for it constantly.
It is certain that if we do this, our hearts, no matter how cold they may be, will gradually grow to love Him and that, too, with all their strength. They will overflow with love. They will love Him in the fullest sense of the word.
Have we never thought of this before? Why have we not asked God for this greatest of all gifts and graces? We ask so often for trivial favors and forget the most important of all. We should have been Saints long ago had we done so.
Let us begin at once and ask God every day of our lives with unbounded confidence for His holy love.
The following incidents show how powerful prayer is in making us know and love God.
An American freethinker was eager to believe in God, but though he listened attentively to Cardinal Gibbons explaining the proofs of God's existence, he could not bring himself to believe. The Cardinal, seeing his good will, suggested that he should frequently say the following short prayer: "Oh, God, if You exist, make me know You."
This the freethinker did conscientiously for some time and received in return the gift of a lively and solid faith and with it the greatest happiness of his life.
Cardinal Newman had a similar experience. For many years he sought earnestly to discover the True Church by reading history, studying the works of the Fathers, discussing the subject with learned friends. In vain.
At last he exclaimed: "What have I been doing? I have sought by study and discussion to find the Truth, but I have not given sufficient time and attention to asking the gift of faith from God in prayer."
He at once changed his method and began to ask God earnestly to help him to find the True Church.
His prayers were speedily answered, and he not only saw the light himself but became a shining example to hundreds of others who, following his lead, joined the Catholic Church.
We too shall receive the gift and consolations of God's blessed love if we earnestly ask for it in our daily prayers.
Secondly, to love God we must know Him.
Many people have a completely false notion of God. Though they do not say it in so many words, they think of God as a hard, a stern God, a God of justice who punishes sinners. Frequently, the teachers of the young are to blame for this. With the best intentions in the world they instill into the minds of their charges an exaggerated fear of the Almighty in order to deter them from sinning. But they do not teach them to love God.
The result is that boys and girls grow up and live all their lives with a false concept of God; they adore a false God, a God of fear.
It is true, the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom but it must not be only a servile fear, but mainly the filial fear of children who grieve to offend and displease their parents. We too must fear to outrage our loving God, fear to crucify Him again and make a mockery of Him.
Hardened sinners, of course, who obstinately persist in offending God, know full well that their crimes deserve punishment. They have reason to fear.
But for the ordinary Christian, the all-engrossing concept of God must be clearly a God of infinite sweetness, mercy and love, a God of compassion, Who wishes to lift us up and wipe away the stains of sin from our souls.
Above all, we must look on God as our most loving Father, our dearest Friend, a God in Whom we have unbounded confidence, to Whom we must go in all our troubles and whose help we can seek in all our needs.
We must serve God, not as servants, but as His dear children. We adore God, but with an adoration of love, like the Angels in Heaven, who are burning fires of love. The vision of God as He really is and as they see Him fills them with an ocean of joy and happiness.
Now this God, Whom the Angels and Saints see in Heaven, is the same God Whom we are asked to love. Did we see Him for one instant our souls would be so ravished with delight that they would tear themselves from our poor bodies and fly to Him.
Did the devil see God only for a moment, his whole being would be so inundated with happiness that never again could he feel the pains of Hell.
One may object: But we do not see God as the Angels do. That is true, but we know all about Him by our living faith, as surely as the Angels do by vision. We ought sometimes to place ourselves in spirit amidst the Angels and gaze on God, this especially when we are saying the Gloria Patri.
Soon, very soon, we shall see Him as they do, but for the moment let us use and enjoy our faith and thus anticipate the happiness of Heaven.
When one hears that he has inherited a great fortune, the news fills him at once with delight. He does not wait until the fortune is placed in his hands. Let us do likewise and begin to enjoy an anticipation of the immense, unbounded joys that await us in our Father's home....
From An Easy Way to Become a Saint
by E. D. M. (1949)
The Catholic Printing Press
With Ecclesiastical Approbation
13th June 1949