By Love Alone

From “On Union with God” by Albertus Magnus

All that we have hitherto described, all that is necessary for salvation, can find in love alone its highest, completest, most beneficent perfection.

Love supplies all that is wanting for our salvation; it contains abundantly every good thing and lacks not even the presence of the supreme object of our desires.

It is by love alone that we turn to God, are transformed into his likeness, and are united to him, so that we become one spirit with him, and receive by and from him all our happiness: here in grace, hereafter in glory. Love can find no rest till she reposes in the full and perfect possession of the beloved.

It is by the path of love, which is charity, that God draws nigh to man, and man to God, but where charity is not found God cannot dwell. If, then, we possess charity we possess God, for "God is charity."

There is nothing keener than love, nothing more subtle, nothing more penetrating. Love cannot rest till it has sounded all the depths and learnt the perfections of its beloved. It desires to be one with him, and, if it could, would form but one being with the beloved. It is for this reason that it cannot suffer anything to intervene between it and the object loved, which is God, but springs forward towards him, and finds no peace till it has overcome every obstacle, and reached even unto the beloved.

Love has the power of uniting and transforming; it transforms the one who loves into him who is loved, and him who is loved into him who loves. Each passes into the other, as far as it is possible.

And first consider the intelligence. How completely love transports the loved one into him who loves! With what sweetness and delight the one lives in the memory of the other, and how earnestly the lover tries to know, not superficially but intimately, all that concerns the object of his love, and strives to enter as far as possible into his inner life!

Think next of the will, by which also the loved one lives in him who loves. Does he not dwell in him by that tender affection, that sweet and deeply-rooted joy which he feels? On the other hand, the lover lives in the beloved by the sympathy of his desires, by sharing his likes and dislikes, his joys and sorrows, until the two seem to form but one. Since "love is strong as death," it carries the lover out of himself into the heart of the beloved and holds him prisoner there.

The soul is more truly where it loves than where it gives life since it exists in the object loved by its own nature, by reason and will; whilst it is in the body it animates only by bestowing on it an existence which it shares with the animal creation.

There is, therefore, but one thing which has power to draw us from outward objects into the depths of our own souls, there to form an intimate friendship with Jesus. Nothing but the love of Christ and the desire of his sweetness can lead us thus to feel, to comprehend and experience the presence of his divinity.

The power of love alone is able to lift up the soul from earth to the heights of Heaven, nor is it possible to ascend to eternal beatitude except on the wings of love and desire.

Love is the life of the soul, its nuptial garment, its perfection.

Upon charity are based the law, the prophets, and the precepts of the Lord. Hence the Apostle wrote to the Romans: "Love is therefore the fulfilling of the law," and in the first epistle to Timothy: "The end of the commandment is charity."

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