Love Without Limits (9)

In this column we continue with the translation of Love Without Limits by Father Lev Gillet (“A Monk of the Eastern Church”). Here this remarkable spiritual elder continues his reflection on the boundless, unquantifiable nature of divine love.

“You are loved” (2)

“With what love, then, are you loved?” God asks. “I did not say, ‘You were loved.’ Nor did I say ‘You will be loved.’ I did not just love you yesterday or the day before. Nor is it simply tomorrow or the day after tomorrow that I will love you. You are loved today, at this very moment.

“So it is with every one of my human creatures. You express surprise, my child, and you question me, asking: ‘Really? Am I loved without exception?’ Yes, without exception. Yet you reply: ‘Lord, how can that possibly be? Can someone who sins against you be loved by you at the very same time?’ Yes, my child. If I did not continue to love a sinful person, would I let that person go on living? My Love is seated like a beggar before the door of someone who does not love. It waits. It will continue to wait. The length of time that I shall wait is beyond human comprehension. I wait. And who will be able to separate me from my beloved sinner?

“You see, then, my child, with what great a Love you are loved! I do not say you are ‘deeply’ loved or ‘greatly’ loved,’ or loved more or less than someone else. You have heard it said that I love some and despise others, that I love to very different degrees. This is because I have had to speak to human beings in human ways and in human language, in a pedagogical style, with poor human words that cannot possibly express divine realities. Nevertheless, in my indivisible Love there is neither ‘more’ nor ‘less.’ My Love is pure quality, containing nothing quantitative, nothing measurable. In its infinite fullness it is offered to all people equally. I can only love in a divine way. That is, entirely, giving myself totally in and through it. It is my human creatures who open themselves more or less—or else close themselves entirely—to my Love.

“Let me use an image. Divine Love is like atmospheric pressure that surrounds and weighs upon every creature. It besieges everyone, desires to conquer everyone. It seeks to force an opening, to find a pathway leading to the heart, in order to fill the person entirely. The difference between the sinner and the saint is that the sinner closes his heart to Love, whereas the saint opens it to that Love. Yet it is the very same Love, offered to both, that attempts to fulfill both. The one rejects it, the other accepts it. There is no acceptance, though, without grace, and that grace is immeasurable.

“Let me repeat, my child: I love each person both completely and yet differently. I love each one ‘otherwise.’ There is room in that Love for divine intentions and pleasures, for graces and callings, for choices that are unlike any other.

“You, my child, I love differently from any other person. I love you with a love that is incomparable, unique. Your sins might well wound the Love I have for you. Nevertheless, they can never diminish that Love.

“Do I say that I love mankind ‘with all my heart’? That notion doesn’t apply to God, since it implies quantity. My heart is neither a whole nor a half nor a third. It knows no limits. Love that comes from human persons does have limits, since each person is a finite creature.

“Nonetheless, my child, you can speak of a divine ‘with all my heart’ in a certain symbolic way. That means that Love draws near to you without restriction, in all its immensity, its boundlessness, its absoluteness, its limitlessness. Each one of you, every creature, every grain of sand, every microscopic being is the object of my Love. Do you believe that?

“My child, at this very moment you are the focus of boundless Love within the created universe. I, your God and your Lord, turn myself toward you. The divine Being is in some way concentrated upon you, as He is on every other existing being, but as though you were the only focus of His attention. In that very thought there is enough to enthrall you and to overwhelm you. You are loved. Repeat this promise to yourself and nourish yourself with it. Receive my declaration of Love with a humble and radiant confidence. If you do, your heart will sing for joy!”