Of the Necessity of Knowing and Loving God

It is not astonishing that men do so little for God and that the little which they do costs them so much. They suppose it is so, because their souls being distracted by the inclination of their affections and passions for other objects.

It is because God is not known; if He were known, He would be loved. God is love, says the apostle John (1 John iv.8, 16); he who loves Him not, does not know Him, for how could we know love without loving it?

It is plain, then, that all those who have hitherto only feared God, have not known Him.

God who made us out of nothing, re-creates us, as it were, every moment. Of ourselves we are nothing; we are but what God has made us, and for so long time only as He pleases. Existence and life, then, are only ours because they are conferred by God.

There are blessings, however, of a purer and higher order than these; a well-ordered life is better than life; virtue is of higher price than health; uprightness of heart and the love of God are as far above temporal goods as the heavens are above the earth. If then these lower and baser gifts are held only through the mercy and at the pleasure of God, with how much more reason must it be true of the sublime gift of his love!

But ah! when shall we return love for Love? When shall we seek Him who seeks us and constantly carries us in his arms? When He bears us along in his tender and paternal bosom, then it is that we forget Him; in the sweetness of his gifts, we forget the Giver; his ceaseless blessings, instead of melting us into love, distract our attention and turn it away from Him.

The Inner Life – Francois Fenelon


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