What Love of God and Love of Neighbor are

December 2, 2021 • 3 min

From The Spirit of St. Francis de Sales, page 53
By His friend, Jean Pierre Camus, Bishop of Belley


In connection with this subject of the love of God and of our neighbour, I asked our Blessed Father what loving in this sense of the word really was.

He replied:

Love is the primary passion of our emotional desires, and a primary element in that emotional faculty which is the will.

So that to will is nothing more than to love what is good, and love is the willing or desiring what is good.

If we desire good for ourselves we have what is called self-love; if we desire good for another we have the love of friendship.

To love God and our neighbour, then, with the love of charity, which is the love of friendship, is to desire good to God for Himself, and to our neighbour in God and for the love of God.

We can desire two sorts of good for God:

  1. that which He has, rejoicing that He is what He is, and that nothing can be added to the greatness and to the infinity of His inward perfection;

  2. and that which He has not, by wishing it for Him, either effectively, if it is in our power to give it to Him, or by loving and longing, if it is not in our power to give it.

For, indeed, there is a good which God desires and which is not His as it should be in perfection. That external good, as it is called, is the good which proceeds from the honour and glory rendered to Him by His creatures, especially by those among them endowed with reason.

This is the good which David wishes to God in so many of his Psalms. Among others, in the Praise ye the Lord from the heavens, [Psalm cxlviii. 1.] and in the Bless the Lord, O my soul. [Id. ciii. 1.]

The three children also in the fiery furnace wish this good to God by their canticle: All ye works of the Lord, bless the Lord. [Dan. iii. 57.]

If we truly love God we shall try to bring this good to Him through ourselves, surrendering our whole being to Him, and doing all our actions, the indifferent as well as the good, for His glory.

Not content with that, we shall also strive with all our might to make our neighbour serve and love God, so that by all and in all things God may be honoured.

To love our neighbour in God is

  1. to rejoice in the good which our neighbour possesses, provided, indeed, that he makes use of it for the divine glory;

  2. to render him in his need all the assistance which lies within our power;

  3. to be zealous for the welfare of his soul, and to work for it as we do for our own, because God wills and desires it.

That is to have true and unfeigned charity, and to love God sincerely and steadfastly for His own sake and our neighbour for the love of Him.

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