Spark of Divine Love within You
by Basil the Great
Love of God is not something that can be taught. We did not learn from
someone else how to rejoice in light or want to live, or to love our parents
or guardians. It is the same
– perhaps even more so
– with our love for God: it does not come by another's teaching.
As soon as the living creature (that is, man) comes to be, a power of reason
is implanted in us like a seed, containing with it the ability and the
need to love. When the school of God's law admits this power of reason,
it cultivates it diligently, skillfully nurtures it, and with God's help
brings it to perfection.
For this reason, as by God's gift, I find you with the zeal necessary
to attain this end, and you on your part help me with your prayers. I will
try to fan into flame the spark of divine love that is hidden within you,
as far as I am able through the power of the Holy Spirit.
First, let me say that we have already received from God the ability
to fulfill all his commands. We have then no reason to resent them, as
if something beyond our capacity were being asked of us. We have no reason
either to be angry, as if we had to pay back more than we had received.
When we use this ability in a right and fitting way, we lead a life of
virtue and holiness. But if we misuse it, we fall into sin.
This is the definition of sin: the misuse of powers given us by God
for doing good, a use contrary to God's commandments. On the other hand,
the virtue that God asks of us is the use of the same powers based on a
good conscience in accordance with God's command.
Since this is so, we can say the same about love. Since we received
a command to love God, we possess from the first moment of our existence
an innate power and ability to love. The proof of this is not to be sought
outside ourselves, but each one can learn this from himself and in himself.
It is natural for us to want things that are good and pleasing to the eye,
even though at first different things seem beautiful and good to different
people. In the same way, we love what is related to us or near to us, though
we have not been taught to do so, and we spontaneously feel well disposed
to our benefactors.
What, I ask, is more wonderful than the beauty of God? What thought
is more pleasing and satisfying than God's majesty? What desire is as urgent
and overpowering as the desire implanted by God in a soul that is completely
purified of sin and cries out in its love: I am wounded by love?
The radiance of the divine beauty is altogether beyond the power of words
[Article excerpted from the
Rules of Basil the Great]