ON CONTEMPLATING GOD

William of Saint Thierry


Translated from the Latin by
Geoffrey Webb and Adrian Walker





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V

that there is nothing to be loved above god, and nothing to be desired beyond him


1. O Love, come into us and take complete possession of us. Let Thy presence in our souls kill every germ of sensuality and the filth of sin which has been conceived and born of fleshly lust and the pride of life. That sentiment which goes by the name of love among us, is infected and corrupted by the diseases of that very soul which Thou didst create in us for Thyself. Love was also intended for Thee alone, but now its nature fights contrary to that law, and very often refuses to follow it. Then it is no longer called love, but gluttony, sensuality, covetousness, and so on, depending on its object. But when it is not allowed to suffer corruption its whole tendency is towards Thee. To Thee alone, Lord, love is due. Rational love in the soul, it has been said, can be described as a movement, or as a state of rest, or even as the attainment of an end. But no matter how we may describe it, in every case the will desires nothing more; it finds nothing further to desire at all. If a man tries to go beyond Thee to look for something better than Thyself he is wasting his time because there is nothing to look for. The reason for that is that there is nothing better or sweeter than Thee. In fact, if a man ignores Thee, the only true object of love, and goes off to lust after other things, he himself becomes—nothing. That is because love is for Thee alone, and for nothing else, and because everything has its being in Thee. Since man is bound by his very raison d'être to fear God with a fear inspired only by love, and to keep His commandments, we can only find peace and satisfaction and happiness, Lord, in Thee.


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