Ineffable Glory and Beatitude

“St. Paul says: ‘Support one another in charity, careful to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, one body and one spirit, as you are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, and one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in us all.’ (Eph 4:1-6) We are, then, truly made one spirit with God; not as if the substance of our soul ceased to exist, but because it is so intimately united with God, as if, in a certain sense, it formed one whole. In the human body, too, the members are substantially distinct from the head, and the soul from the body. Yet they are really one, because they form a whole and cannot exist apart. So are we made one with God, because, as Christ has said, we abide in Him and He in us.”

“That great mystery is prepared and begun in us which, according to the words of the Apostle, will form the highest perfection of created nature—that God will be All in all. God will be in us not only because He has created us, not only because our whole nature and being is dependent on Him, not only because we are His as the work of His hands and reveal His glory, but because He has drawn us entirely unto Himself, and poured Himself out in us.”

“Let us not fear to lose ourselves in this ineffable union with God. We are lost in an unfathomable abyss, but an abyss not of annihilation, but of the greatest glory and happiness. We lose ourselves to find ourselves again in God, or, rather, to find God Himself with all His glory and beatitude. For the more we are God’s, the more He is ours; the more we live in Him and for Him, the more He lives in us and for us. . . . We also partake in a twofold manner of the Divine beatitude: first by beholding the beauty and bliss of God as He Himself beholds and enjoys it, and again by possessing this glory and bliss by grace.”

“Where may we find a thousand tongues and hearts to praise and love so merciful a Father!”

Quotations from Alice Lady Lovat, The Marvels of Divine Grace: Meditations Based on the “Glories of Divine Grace” (Original Treatise by Fr. Nieremberg, S.J., Entitled “Del Aprecio y Estima de la Divina Gracia”) (London: R. & T. Washbourne, Ltd., 1917).

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Living Bread

Christ prayed to His heavenly Father: “The glory which Thou hast given Me, I have given to them; that they may be one, as We also are one: I in them, and Thou in Me; that they may be made perfect in one” (John 17:22). And again: “Not for them only do I pray, but for those also who through their word shall believe in Me; that they all may be one, as Thou, Father, in Me, and I in Thee; that they also may be one in Us; that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me” (John 17:20-21).

St. John Chrysostom explains: “We are ourselves the body of Christ. For what is the bread upon the altar? The body of Christ. And what do they become that receive it? The body of Christ; not many bodies, but one body. As the bread is a whole composed of many grains, and the separate grains nowhere appear, and in their union do not show the distinction though they continue to exist, so we are united amongst ourselves and with Christ. For you are not nourished by one body, and another one by another body, but all by the same body. And therefore the Apostle says: ‘We all are partakers of the same bread; but of this we all are made one body’ (1 Cor 10:17).”

Christ said: “He that eateth My flesh and drinketh My blood abideth in Me, and I in him” (John 6:56). St. Cyril comments: “It is of importance to notice that Christ will be in us, as He Himself says, not merely by a certain relation of love, but by a real union. For as two pieces of wax placed and molten together are made one whole, so are we united to Christ by the reception of His body and blood.”

“The natural bread is also united with the body of him that partakes of it. But since it is a dead and perishable bread, it cannot convert the bodies of the partakers into its own substance. The Body of Christ, however, is a living, undivided, imperishable Bread, and therefore it unites with itself the bodies of those that receive it, makes them its members, and fills them with the plenitude of Divine life. Our Lord said: ‘I am the Vine, and you are the branches’ (John 15:5). Thus the Vine feeds with its sap the branches united with it, and penetrates and vivifies them with its own vitality.”

Quotations from Alice Lady Lovat, The Marvels of Divine Grace: Meditations Based on the “Glories of Divine Grace” (Original Treatise by Fr. Nieremberg, S.J., Entitled “Del Aprecio y Estima de la Divina Gracia”) (London: R. & T. Washbourne, Ltd., 1917).

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Three Blessings of Union

“St. Thomas [Aquinas] says the three gifts of matrimony which constitute its honour and happiness are (1) fidelity, (2) sanctification, (3) fecundity. Fidelity indicates the indivisible unity of marriage, by which husband and wife belong exclusively to each other. The sanctification, or sacrament, indicates the indissolubility of the tie, which, made by God, can never be put asunder. Children, finally, are the special blessing conferred by God on the marriage state.”

Concerning fidelity: “What fidelity could equal that of our good God? . . . God gives Himself to His Spouse whole and undivided; and if He has elected countless spouses besides each one of us, nonetheless does He belong entirely to us; nor is His love lessened on that account. He is as the sun which sheds its rays on a thousand eyes, and yet is enjoyed in its entirety by each single one. Rejoice, rather, at the greatness and power of your Beloved, and in the happiness of these countless souls which share His love with you and yet take nothing from it.”

Concerning sanctification: “The bond of union between God and the faithful soul is as inviolable as the word of God. And has He not said, ‘I have loved thee with an everlasting love’; and again, ‘I will betroth thee in faith’?”

Concerning fecundity: “Fecundity, the third blessing attached to holy matrimony, likewise attends this blessed union of God with the soul, and it may even be said to attain therein to its highest perfection. As the dew falling from heaven fructifies the plant, so does grace fructify the soul; and as the sun by its light enters the eye and is reflected on it, so does the Son of God produce in the soul the image of His Divine Being, and is, as it were, born again in the soul. . . . Where have such marvels of holy fecundity been seen as we read of in the lives of the Saints and Servants of God? And should not all souls closely united to their Divine Spouse produce, by His merciful assistance, abundant fruit of holy desires and good works to manifest their gratitude and their love, and thus to become ever more united to Him?”

Quotations from Alice Lady Lovat, The Marvels of Divine Grace: Meditations Based on the “Glories of Divine Grace” (Original Treatise by Fr. Nieremberg, S.J., Entitled “Del Aprecio y Estima de la Divina Gracia”) (London: R. & T. Washbourne, Ltd., 1917).

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Our Heavenly Spouse

“The ineffable love which God bears to a soul in the state of grace, and the supernatural beauty with which He invests it, lead to that blessed union of which St. Paul speaks in his Epistle to the Ephesians. ‘Matrimony,’ he explains, ‘is a great sacrament’—that is, a mystery of sublime significance, because it typifies the union of Christ with His Church, and therefore also of God with the soul. But the union between husband and wife, however sacred and intimate, is but a shadow of the infinitely closer union of which it is a symbol. For, as the Apostle says: ‘He who adheres to a wife is made one body, but he who adheres to the Lord is one spirit’ (1 Cor 6:16-17). And as the spirit, much more the Spirit of God, is exalted above the flesh, so is the union of God exalted above that of man and wife. This union of the soul with God is so true and intimate that its equal cannot be found in all created nature, and no created reason can comprehend it. God immerses the soul in an ocean of His Divine light, inundates it with a stream of Divine happiness, fills it with the whole plenitude of His Being.”

“To have God for our Father, our Brother, and our Friend, would be sufficient to prove the love He entertains for the soul in a state of grace; but, as He would set no bounds to His love of the children of men, He also calls Himself their Spouse. This union removes all barriers that might separate the soul from God. As His child she was restrained by filial reverence, as His friend she could not yet claim Him, but as Spouse she approaches Him without embarrassment.”

“How great should be the desire of the devout soul to please Him who has manifested such astounding love for her!”

Quotations from Alice Lady Lovat, The Marvels of Divine Grace: Meditations Based on the “Glories of Divine Grace” (Original Treatise by Fr. Nieremberg, S.J., Entitled “Del Aprecio y Estima de la Divina Gracia”) (London: R. & T. Washbourne, Ltd., 1917).

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Four Degrees of Love

“The mystic writer Richard of St. Victor tells us that there are four degrees of love. To the first he gives the name of the insuperable love, because it can be displaced by no other; to the second the name of the inseparable love, because it is so firmly impressed on the memory that it cannot be effaced; to the third he gives that of the exclusive love, because it will endure no rival; and the fourth he calls the insatiable love, because it can never be satisfied.”

Concerning insuperable love: “That man should be irresistibly drawn towards God, as to the highest Good and Beauty, and the Source of all love and happiness, should surprise no one. But that God should be attracted to man can only be accounted for by the fact that in implanting Divine grace in his soul God has given him a supernatural beauty which reflects His own Nature and Divinity and makes him worthy of His love. It was the love of man, a truly insuperable one, which caused Him to descend from the highest heavens to the bosom of the humble Virgin.”

Concerning inseparable love: “This love of our God for us is likewise one that inseparably attaches Him to us; for has He not told us: ‘Can a woman forget her infant, so as not to have pity on the son of her womb? And if she should, yet will not I forget thee.’ (Isa 49:15) As long as we are in a state of grace, so long will God abide in us and with us; for ‘His delight is to be with the children of men.'”

Concerning exclusive love: “God loves us all with an absolutely exclusive love, as if each one of us was the only object of it. Thus, in the Canticle of Canticles He calls all His friends: ‘one dove, one spouse, one beautiful one.’ For though there are many, yet they all shine with the same light of grace, all partake of the same Divine Nature, and all enjoy the same love whole and entire, since this love is capable of embracing one as well as many, and many as well as one.”

Concerning insatiable love: “The love of God for a soul in a state of grace is truly an insatiable one. . . . Had it been necessary, He would gladly have suffered yet more for our salvation.”

Quotations from Alice Lady Lovat, The Marvels of Divine Grace: Meditations Based on the “Glories of Divine Grace” (Original Treatise by Fr. Nieremberg, S.J., Entitled “Del Aprecio y Estima de la Divina Gracia”) (London: R. & T. Washbourne, Ltd., 1917).

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You Are the Treasure of My Heart

“We, being finite, could not be the object of infinite love. God loves us on account of His infinite goodness, which finds a wonderful reflex in us by grace. He loves Himself in us, and therefore us in Himself. He loves us on account of His own Divine Nature, which He has communicated to us by grace, and therefore His love for us is most intimate and Divine.”

Job said, “What is man that Thou shouldst magnify him? Or the son of man that thou shouldst set Thy heart on him?” (Jb 7:17) “Doubtless,” says St. Bernard, “man is as vanity, and as nothing; but should he be absolutely nothing who is thus glorified by God? . . . Since Thou hast said, ‘Where thy treasure is, there also is thy heart,’ must we not then be Thy treasure, if Thy heart is with us? How, then, can we be a mere nothing if we are Thy treasure?”

“Beauty is the principal object of pure love. If, then, God embraces our soul with such ineffable love, we may conclude from this that our soul must have received a great and heavenly beauty from grace; for Divine love not only estimates things at their true value, but it is also powerful enough to make the object worthy of being so loved.”

“Human love presupposes love in its object; Divine love, on the other hand, works in the soul and produces it: for as human nature possesses nothing but what it receives from God, He can love the soul only inasmuch as He makes it partake of His infinite goodness and beauty.”

“Since, therefore, the love of God works in us by grace, and rests upon us on account of it, it must be grace that contains this beauty, and confers it upon us. Grace impresses upon the soul, as on a mirror, a perfect image of the Divine Nature, so that he who would represent to himself the beauty of a soul in a state of grace ought first to have beheld God Himself in His Divine perfections.”

“‘To a soul in a state of grace,’ says St. Ambrose, ‘God speaks as He did once to His chosen city: Behold, Jerusalem, I have painted thy walls in a splendour of light.’ Blosius, the great mystic of the sixteenth century, says that it is certain that if we could behold the beauty of a soul adorned with Divine grace, we should be enraptured with delight and wonder.”

Quotations from Alice Lady Lovat, The Marvels of Divine Grace: Meditations Based on the “Glories of Divine Grace” (Original Treatise by Fr. Nieremberg, S.J., Entitled “Del Aprecio y Estima de la Divina Gracia”) (London: R. & T. Washbourne, Ltd., 1917).

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I Call You Friends

“What could be more beautiful and consoling, than those words of Our Lord: ‘I will not now call you servants; . . . I have called you friends.’ Well might St. Gregory the Great exclaim: ‘Oh, how great is the mercy of our Creator! We are not His worthy servants and He calls us now His friends.'”

“Two things are required for perfect friendship—liberty and equality; and both are given to us by Divine grace. The Apostle tells us, ‘Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty,’ and grace raises the soul to a great degree of union with God, and even to a likeness with Him, so that the distance between him and God is no longer so great as to make him utterly unworthy of His friendship.”

“How exquisitely is the value of a friend described in Holy Writ! ‘A faithful friend is a strong defence, and he that hath found him hath found a treasure. A faithful friend is the medicine of life and immortality.’ (Sir 6:14-16) And where shall we find fidelity such as we find it in Him, who, having been made man and died for us on the Cross, now gives Himself to us, and abides with us for evermore, under the form of bread and wine? Should we not say to our hearts: ‘Without a friend thou canst not well live, and if Jesus be not thy Friend above all thou wilt be exceedingly sad and desolate. . . . Love Him and keep Him for thy Friend, who when all go will not leave thee, nor suffer thee to perish in the end.'”

“God is our Friend only in order to benefit and enrich us; and as He has set no bounds to His liberality towards us, so we should make Him a return by unbounded love and devotion.”

Quotations from Alice Lady Lovat, The Marvels of Divine Grace: Meditations Based on the “Glories of Divine Grace” (Original Treatise by Fr. Nieremberg, S.J., Entitled “Del Aprecio y Estima de la Divina Gracia”) (London: R. & T. Washbourne, Ltd., 1917).

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