instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The Excelsior Principle

Paula at More Light quotes Ilia Delio's book Franciscan Prayer:
Although St Clare sought a unity with God through contemplation with the crucified Spouse, union is not the goal of the relationship with God, rather, the goal is imitation. The gaze on the crucified Spouse is to lead to imitation of the Spouse.

We become what we love and who we love shapes what we become. If we love things, we become a thing. If we love nothing, we become nothing. Imitation is not a literal mimicking of Christ, rather it means becoming the image of the beloved, an image disclosed through transformation. This means we are to become vessels of God´s compassionate love for others.
That is, perhaps, a Franciscan formulation of St. Thomas's maxim of bringing to others the fruits of one's contemplation. The final end is, in fact, resting in union with God, but in the meantime contemplative union assumes the active form of imitation.

"We become what we love." In Scriptural terms, "For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be." This metaphor is embraced today by sports fans who claim to bleed their team colors, an extremely literal expression of becoming what they love.

God, too, became what He loves, "that man might become God," as the saying goes.

But if we become what we love whether we intend it or not, we can embrace what can be called the Excelsior Principle: "Love the highest, that you might become the highest." A critical part of the Good News is that man is capax Dei, capable of God. We can love God Himself -- and that "Himself" is also critical. We don't have to settle for loving God-the-Lawgiver, which would make us lawgivers, or for loving God-the-Sovereign, which would make us sovereigns set over and apart from creation. We can love God-the-Father-the-Son-and-the-Holy-Spirit, which will make us God's adopted children and eternal sharers in the Divine Life of the Trinity.