Sunday, 27 April 2014

The Abiding Presence Of The Holy Ghost in the Soul, by Bede Jarrett, O.P. part 6. Mode of this Presence: Object of Love.


1. There is something that unites us more closely to our friends than knowledge does, and this is love. Knowledge may teach us about them, may unlock for us gradually throughout life ever more wonderful secrets of their goodness and strength and loyalty. But knowledge of itself pushes us irresistibly on to something more. The more we know of that which is worth knowing, the more we must love it. Now love is greater than knowledge whenever knowledge itself does not really unite us to the object of our knowledge, so that St. Paul can deliberately put charity above faith, since faith is the knowledge of God by means of ideas which are themselves created and limited and inadequate, while charity sweeps us up and carries us right along to God Himself. Hence it was an axiom among the mediƦval theologians that love is more unifying than knowledge, so that in the real indwelling of the Holy Spirit in our hearts we must expect to find not only that He is the object of our intelligence, but also that He has a place in our hearts. Indeed, it is impossible to conceive any experimental knowledge which does not also include in it the notion of love.

2. This love or friendship between ourselves and the Holy Spirit, if by friendship we mean anything like that of which we have experience in our human relations, implies three things. First of all, friendship implies that we do not love people for what we can get out of them, for that would be an insult to a friend, for it would mean selfishness or even animal passion. Friendship implies that we come for what we can give far more than that we come for what we can get. We love because we have helped is more often the true order of the origins of friendship than we help because we have loved. Secondly, friendship to be complete must be mutual. There may indeed be love when some poor, forlorn soul is here never requited in its affection, but that is not what we mean by a friend or by friendship. Friendship implies action, a fellow feeling, a desire for each other, a sympathy. Thirdly, friendship also implies necessarily a common bond of likeness, or similarity of condition or life, some equality. Of course it is evident from classic instances that friendship may exist between a shepherd lad and the son of a king (though perhaps Jonathan’s princedom was very little removed from shepherd life), yet the very friendship itself must produce equality between them. Said the Latin proverb: “Friendship either finds, or makes men equal.”

3. Now, therefore, to be perfectly literal in our use of the word, we must expect to find these things reproduced in our friendship with the Spirit of God; and, wonderful as it is, these things are reproduced. For God certainly loves us for no benefit that He can obtain from His love. He certainly had no need of us, nor do we in any sense fill up anything that is wanting to His life. Before we were, or the world was created, the Ever Blessed Three in One enjoyed to the full the complete peace and joy and energy of existence. We are no late development of His being, but only came because of His inherent goodness that was always prodigal of itself. He is our friend, not for His need, but for ours. He is our friend, not for what He could get, but for what He could give—His life. Again, His friendship is certainly mutual, for as St. John tells: “Let us therefore love God because God first hath loved us” (John 4.19). There is no yearning on our part which is not more than paralleled on His. I can say not only that I love God, but that He is my friend. Thirdly, I may even dare to assert that there is a common bond of likeness and equality between myself and Him. He has stooped to my level only that He may lift me to His own. He became Man that He might make man God, and so, equally, the Holy Spirit dwells in me that I may dwell in Him. “Friendship either finds, or makes men equal.” It found us apart, it makes us one. He came divine, perfect, to me, human, imperfect. By grace I am raised to a supernatural level. I know Him in some sort as He is; I am immediately united to Him by the bond of love.