How We Know and Love

Father Cassilly elaborates on the implications of knowing and loving. He writes: “Of all material creation only man can say, ‘I am, I know.’ . . . The animals about us, with their sentient existence and powers, can never singly nor collectively say, or even know intelligently that they exist. . . . Whatever it does for itself is done by a mere instinctive perception; it does not, cannot consciously guide itself to any end, aim or object. Whatever purpose then it serves is placed in it from without, and for some end extrinsic to and beyond itself and its own good. . . . It acquires a reason for its being only in so far as this helps or furthers the existence of something else. It has only sensitive perception, it knows in a sentient way, but it cannot know explicitly that it knows, which is the real test of intelligence and consequent spirituality. Man, on the contrary, answers to this supreme test, for he knows, and he knows that he knows, he is and he knows that he is.”

“And flowing necessarily from man’s attribute of consciousness, is that other God-given power of loving. Love is the child of perception. Intelligent being created or increate in perceiving the true must also perceive the good, for whatever is true is good; and as its nature is to know truth so also it has a natural propensity to love or embrace what is good.”

“The law of love is based on the nature and essence of God. He loves Himself, and with a necessary, infinite love. He cannot do otherwise. . . . As He is Love, so His intelligent creatures, the angelic hosts in heaven and men on earth, in imitation of Him possess this Godlike attribute.”

“Even in the lower creation, in the animal, vegetable and inorganic kingdoms, everywhere there is some faint adumbration or analogy of love. For, each animal and plant, each atom or molecule must seek its own, work for itself, tend to its own conservation and the exercise of its own energy. . . . This truth is so evident that men have embodied it in the proverb, ‘self-preservation is the first law of nature.’ . . . So tenacious indeed are bodies of existence that, though we may change their form and shape, it is impossible for us to reduce them to nothingness, and this fact scientists recognize in the principle they have formulated that matter is indestructible. And so it is, except by the Almighty will that brought it into being.”

Quotations from Francis Cassilly, A Story of Love, 2d ed. (St. Louis: B. Herder, 1917).

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