Piety Is an Impulse of Devoted Love

Father Guibert notes: “The word ‘piety’ calls up the thought of love and devotion. . . . We say of a child that he has “filial piety” when he shows tender, refined and generous feelings towards his parents, when his love fills their hearts with joy, and when he sacrifices something that touches himself or his belongings in order to defend or assist them.”

Christian piety is “a religious inclination, certainly, but an inclination accentuated by a love that is full of devotion. It comprises the whole of religion, but it adds to it the fervour of love. . . . Piety enables a man to perform the highest act of which he is capable, for it takes him by that which touches him most intimately and most deeply, and leads him on to that which is greatest—even to God Himself. Thus, a union is effected between that which is best within and that which is best outside of man. And, in the presence of this sublime encounter, the most powerful minds are overwhelmed with admiration, for it is a stirring and awful mystery, that can only be experienced by those who are entirely sincere and full of humility and reverence.”

“Love for God arises in a Christian’s heart from the fact that he knows God less as a Master than as a Father. In the work of creation, and, above all, in the work of redemption, he sees God principally under His paternal aspect. Without in any way derogating from the majesty of the Creator, His loving-kindness is progressively manifested towards us. God has made us because He loved us from all eternity. He fashioned our hearts one by one. He watches over us, and by His providence supplies our needs; He encircles us with His beneficent presence, and His grace permeates our wills, just as the life-giving air fills our lungs. He is all-good, this Author of our being. How can we help loving Him?”

“Still more evident are the signs of this loving-kindness in our Redeemer. He stretches out His hand to His fallen creatures to set them up again, but He does not stoop down from on high like a Master. He offers His hand to us on our own footing, like an equal and friend; for by faith we recognize our God under the veil of humanity, hiding the light that would daze us to show the tenderness that touches and draws the heart to Himself.”

Quotations from Jean Guibert, On Piety (London: R. & T. Washbourne, Ltd., 1911).

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