“Unless love gains its desires it kills the lover”

Therefore, God, seeing the world falling into ruin because of fear, continuously acts to recall it with love, invite it back by grace, hold it tight in charity, and embrace it with affection. …

Yet, in all these wonders which we mentioned, when the flame of divine love enkindles human hearts, and the intoxication of the love of God overflows into men’s senses, they begin, with impaired mind, to want to see God with their bodily eyes. How could the restricted human sight take in God whom the world does not contain? The faculties of love give no second thought to what will be, what ought to be, or what can be. Love has not judgment, heeds not reason, knows not measure. Love accepts no solace because the object it desires is impossible, nor cure because the object is difficult.

Unless love gains its desires it kills the lover. That is why it goes where it is led, not where it ought. Love brings forth desire, it swells with ardor; and ardor extends itself to illicit objects. Why should I say more? Love cannot stand not to see what it loves. That is why all the saints deemed everything they merited of little worth if they should not see the Lord. And truly, brethren, how will one render homage in return for benefits received if one does not see the giver of the benefits? Or how will one believe that he is loved by God if he does not merit the vision of Him?

This is why love which longs to see God, even if it lacks judgment, does have the spirit of devotion. This is why Moses dares to say: “If I have found favor in thy sight, show me thy face.” This is why another man says: “Show us thy face.” Finally, this is why the very Gentiles fashioned idols. In their errors they wanted to see with their eyes what they were worshiping.

Therefore, God, aware that men were suffering torture and weariness from their longing to see Him, chose as a means to make Himself visible something which was to be great to the dwellers of earth and by no means small to the dwellers in heaven. For, could something which God made like Himself on earth fail to be deemed honorable in heaven? “Let us make mankind in our image and likeness,” Scripture says. What perfect devotion owes to a king it owes also to his picture. If God had assumed an angelic nature from heaven, He still wold be invisible. If from the earth He had assumed something less than human nature, He would have suffered an insult to His divinity, and He would have depressed, not elevated man.

Therefore, most dearly beloved, let no one deem it an insult to God if God came to men through a man, and assumed something from ourselves, in order to be seen by us—He who lives and reigns as God now, and through all the ages of ages. Amen.

St Peter Chrysologus

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4 Responses to “Unless love gains its desires it kills the lover”

  1. Fr Aidan Kimel says:

    St Peter Chrysologus, Sermon 147


  2. elijahmaria says:

    I sent this out to friends the other day and the part to which I would draw attention, in light of your post above, is the fact that the divine energies in both instances shine forth in the faces of men…Also as a side note Dom Arintero also speaks of energies as often as he speaks of grace, and particularly uses energies when speaking of how grace shines forth in the human body and in the expression of virtues, etc.


    The Mystical Evolution in the Development and Vitality of the Church, Vol. 2, by Fra Juan G. Arintero, OP, pp 267-268, first written in Spain at the turn of the 20th century between 1898 and 1915, approx.

    Diversity of the Ways of the Spirit [Indwelling]

    During the rapture and flight of the spirit [animation/soul] the use of the senses may be lost, as happens in the state of ecstasy, but often the body remains in the same posture and the features are very animated and even radiant with light and supernatural beauty. Not infrequently the body ceases to touch the earth or be supported by the earth, and it lifts into the air as if attracted by a sacred magnet.

    In this manner the soul is purified and illumined in the measure that it draws near to God and increases its union with Him. More and more vividly it feels the divine touches. These vivify it and impress on it the ardent longings with which it is inflamed with it receives the darts of divine love, the burning impulses which are thereby aroused, and the sweet and penetrating wounds of love which they produce in it, until it is totally transfigured, wherein is found its salvation and its life.

    These delicate, pure, delightful and ineffable touches of the Beloved are first felt in the faculties and later in the very substance of the soul. They complete its purification from all earthly stain and so inflame it with divine love and intoxicate it with such delights that the soul is no longer able to contain itself. Like iron placed in the forge, the soul gives off flaming sparks of heavenly fire.


    The Triads, Gregory Palamas, Classics of Western Spirituality translation, p.57

    Deification in Christ

    …The Monks know that the essence of God transcends the fact of being inaccessible to the sense, since God is not only above all created things, but is even beyond the Godhead. The excellence of Him Who surpasses all things is not only beyond all affirmation, but also beyond all negation; it exceeds all excellence that is attainable by the mind. This hypostatic light, seen spiritually by the sainst, they know by experience to exist, as they tell us, and to exist not symbolically only, as do manifestations produced by fortuitous events; but it is an illumination immaterial and divine, a grace invisibly seen and ignorantly known. What it is, they do not pretend to know.

    …This light is not the essence of God, for that is inaccessible and incommunicable, it is not an angel, for it bears the marks of the Master. Sometimes it makes a man go out of the body or else, without separating him from the body, it elevates him to an ineffable height. At other times, it transforms the body, and communicates its own splendor to it when, miraculously, the light which deifies the body becomes accessible to the bodily eye.


    • elijahmaria says:

      Just as an aside: What I have posted above has bearing on your inquiry into mediated or unmediated grace. I hesitate to say to much because as a Catholic it is presumed that I speak of created grace and that created grace means that it is a grace that is created…I don’t even really understand how others understand it, so I hesitate to define it as others do.

      Nonetheless, what is described above is what might be called unmediated grace because it talks about the interior actions of the Indwelling and some of the transformations that become apparent from that interior transfiguration. The point is that the grace that shines through that others see is the direct action of God in a human being, delivered through a creature, so that we can see and try to apprehend it even if we cannot entirely comprehend it. The “light” that Gregory Palamas describes is not some kind of bog-light floating mid-air, disembodied, and fully dependent upon local conditions. Surely we, the ones Indwelt, must provide local conditions conducive to the Indwelling making manifest its love for us, but that love comes whether or not we are fully prepared WHEN that is the freely chosen act of a loving God.

      It is a complex interaction this grace of participation and indwelling but well worth pursuing in heart and in mind.


      • elijahmaria says:

        A further comment: Very often in the lives of Christian mystics, both notable and those who are and remain more hidden, the time when the light of Christ shines most brightly in them is during a mass or divine liturgy, or during the holy hours or office. So your instinctive questioning of the meaning of “unmediated” is quite rational and has real examples of why one cannot be or become outside of the Body of Christ. But in this other more personal sense of the Indwelling and its expression through the medium of human kind, the term unmediated finds its feet…so to speak.


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