From "On Pilgrimage" by Dorothy Day, 1897-1980
In the Old and New Testaments, there are various ways in which the relationship between God and men is mentioned. There is the shepherd and his sheep: “The Lord is my shepherd,” “I am the Good Shepherd,” the animal and the man. There is the servant and the master, there is the son and the father and there is the bride and the bridegroom: “Behold, the bridegroom cometh.” “The Song of Songs,” “The Canticle of Canticles,” is all about love: “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth.”
It is hard to believe in this love.
In a book by Hugh of Saint Victor, which I read once on the way from Saint Paul to Chicago, there is a conversation between the soul and God about this love. The soul is petulant and wants to know what kind of a love is that which loves everyone indiscriminately, the thief and the Samaritan, the wife and the mother and the harlot? The soul complains that it wishes a particular love, a love for herself alone. And God replies fondly that, after all, since no two people are alike in this world, he has indeed a particular fondness for each one of us, an exclusive love to satisfy each one alone.
It is hard to believe in this love because it is a tremendous love. “It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” If we do once catch a glimpse of it, we are afraid of it. Once we recognise that we are sons of God, that the seed of divine life has been planted in us at baptism, we are overcome by that obligation placed upon us of growing in the love of God. And what we do not do voluntarily, he will do for us.
The love of God and man becomes the love of equals, as the love of the bride and the bridegroom is the love of equals and not the love of the sheep for the shepherd, or the servant for the master, or the son for the father. We may stand at times in the relationship of servant and at other times in that of son, as far as our feelings go and in our present state. But the relationship we hope to attain to is that of the love of the “Canticle of Canticles.”
If we cannot deny the self in us, kill the self-love, as he has commanded, and put on the Christ life, then God will do it for us. We must become like him. Love must go through these purgations.