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.’ (Is 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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