SINCE the love of God is the most precious thing in creation-the noblest of all actions, the most meritorious of all motives, the best of all possessions, the most efficacious of all prayers-it is obvious that if we are wise we shall pursue the love of God with eagerness and spare no effort to achieve it. The philosophers' stone for which the alchemists of the Middle Ages sought untiringly, which was to turn all metals into gold, and the Fountain of Youth, which was to heal all diseases, were mere fictions, which no one nowadays would be so foolish as to try to find. But in the life of the soul there is a fountain of youth and there is a philosophers' stone-the pure love of God. Whoever has this incomparable possession can turn even the least of his actions to the purest gold of heavenly merit, and he has within him a fountain of healing to cure every ailment of his soul and keep him young with the angelic youthfulness of heaven. Nothing is so precious and so well worth having as the love of God, and the true understanding of it simplifies and clarifies the whole spiri tual life. "Love God," said St. Augustine, "and do as you please" -because if you truly love God, you will not please to do anything contrary to His law, and that love will be as a holy instinct in you leading you simply to accomplish God's will. There are nowadays a great many very good people who make the spiritual life a very complicated and perplexing thing. They conceive the service of God as a task as delicate and difficult as balancing on a wire. A great number of intricate considerations assail their conscience, and puzzling questions of perfection and duty distract their mind. What a great benefit it would be for them to understand that the short cut to perfection, the compendium of holiness, is the simple and pure love of God. The saints understood this principle, and it led them through amazingly different paths to the one clear summit of sanctity. They differed in many ways-in time, in nationality, in tastes, in learning, in customs, in station-but they all resembled one another in their love of God. They even showed that love in astonishingly different ways. Some of them, like St. Louis of France, and St. Ferdinand of Castile, went to war for the love of God. Others, like St. Francis and St. Genevieve, were the most peacable folk in the world, and cherished from harm even the beasts of the field, because they saw in these the creatures of God's love. Some of them, like St. Anthony of the Desert, fled to the loneliest solitudes so as to be free to think of God and praise Him the entire day and far into the night. Others, like St. Francis Xavier, coursed about the world like a restless flame, ever on the move, ever in the midst of throngs of men to whom they made themselves all in all that they might win them all to the love of God. Some, like St. Simon Stylites, and St. Benedict Joseph Labre, did penance in strange and appalling ways for the love of God. Others, like St. Francis de Sales and St. Vincent de Paul, mingled intimately with the life of great cities and dealt constantly with worldly affairs that they might put upon them the stamp of consecration to God's service and glory.
Rev Edward F Garesche SJ, Brother Hermenegild TOSF, Paperback, ISBN 10: 1497350360, ISBN 13: 9781497350366