From “A Second Collection”
by Bernard Lonergan, 1904-1984
Being-in-love is of different kinds. There is the love of intimacy, of husband and wife, of parents and children. There is the love of one’s fellowmen with its fruit in the achievement of human welfare. There is the love ofGod with one’s whole heart and whole soul, with all one’s mind and all one’s strength (Mark 12.30). It is God's love flooding our hearts through the Holy Spirit given to us (Romans 5.5).
It grounded the conviction of Saint Paul that, “There is nothing in death or life, in the realm of spirits or superhuman powers, in the world as it is or the world as it shall be, in the forces of the universe, nothing in all creation that can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)
Being in love with God, as experienced, is being in love in an unrestricted fashion. All love is self-surrender, but being in love with God is being in love without limits or qualifications or conditions or reservations. It is with one’s whole heart and whole soul and all one’s mind and all one’s strength. Just as a total openness to all questioning is our capacity for self-transcendence, so too an unrestricted being in love is the proper fulfilment of that capacity.
Because that love is the proper fulfilment of our capacity, that fulfilment brings a deep-set joy that can remain despite humiliation, privation, pain, betrayal, desertion. Again, that fulfilment brings a radical peace, the peace that the world cannot give. That fulfilment bears fruit in acts of love for one’s neighbour, a love that strives mightily to bring about the kingdom of God on this earth. On the other hand, the absentee of that fulfilment opens the way to the trivialisation of human life in the pursuit of fun, to the harshness of human life that results from the ruthless exercise of power, to despair about human welfare springing from the conviction that the universe is absurd.
The fulfilment that is being in love with God is not the product of our knowledge and choice. It is God’s gift. Like all being in love, as distinct from particular acts of loving, it is a first principle. So far front resulting from our knowledge and choice, it dismantles and abolishes the horizon within which our knowing and choosing went on and it sets up a new horizon within which the love of God transvalues our values and the eyes of that love transform our knowing.
Though not the product of our knowing and choosing, it is not unconscious. On the contrary, it is a conscious, dynamic state, manifesting itself in what. Saint Paul named the harvest of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, fidelity, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5.22).