God deserves exceeding love from us, a love that has no measure.
He who made me by a word, and made me once for all, spent on the task of my remaking many words and many marvelous deeds, and suffered grievous and humiliating wrongs. What reward, therefore, shall I give the Lord for all the benefits that he has done to me? By his first work he gave me to myself; and by the next he gave himself to me. And when he gave himself, he gave me back myself that I had lost. Myself for myself, given and restored, I doubly owe to him. What, though, shall I return him for himself? A thousand of myself would be as nothing in respect of him.
God deserves exceeding love from us, a love that has no measure. That is the first thing you must understand. The reason is that he was first to love. He who is so great loves us so much; he loves us freely, little and poor as we are. That is why I said there should be no measure of our love for God. For since love given to God is given to the Infinite and Measureless, what measure or what limit could it have? He, the Unmeasured and Eternal God, he who is Love beyond all human knowledge, whose greatness knows no bounds, whose wisdom has no end, loves. Shall we then set a limit to our love for him?
I will love you, O Lord my strength, my rock, and my defense, my Savior, my one desire and love. My God, my helper, I will love you with all the power you have given me; not worthily, for that can never be, but to my full capacity. Do what I will, I never can discharge my debt to you, and I can love you only according to the power that you have given me. But I will love you more and more, as you see fit to give further power.
Saint Bernard of Clairvaux. "Why We Love." From Saint Bernard: On The Love of God (A.R. Mowbray & Co., Saint Thomas House, Oxford, UK, 1982).
Reprinted under fair use.
Saint Bernard of Clairvaux († 1153), considered the last Church Father, was a great Cistercian preacher and monastic reformer. He is a Doctor of the Church. Among his writings are Bernard of Clairvaux: On Loving God, and Honey and Salt: Selected Spiritual Writings of Bernard of Clairvaux,Copyright © 1982 A.R. Mowbray & Co.
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