Friday, 25 November 2016

The Confessional. Part 31.

Theory and practice of the confessional by Caspar Erich Schieler, Richard Frederick Clarke

From this love of gratitude, as the first stage on the way to pure love, we may ascend yet higher and attain to that entirely pure love by which we seek God as the highest good in Himself, as infinite beauty, as complete perfection, as the source of all goodness, beauty, and perfection, 'without reference, so far as that is possible, to our own profit. This love is shown by joy in God's perfections (amor complacentiæ) ; the soul which has this love forgets itself and is lost in the object of its love for which alone it lives; its sole desire is God's happiness (amor benevolentiæ), and it would willingly add to it (amor desiderii); but since such increase is impossible it rejoices in things as they are (amor gaudii).

It cannot be disputed that such a disinterested love is possible on earth, since many pious souls have had it in an eminent degree; still it must be observed that although the higher stages of love surpass and in surpassing absorb the lower, they do not eliminate them entirely; on the contrary, this pure love does not and cannot exclude the love of hope. It is the explicit teaching of the Church that love for God on earth cannot be so disinterested as to exclude all thought of ourselves and our eternal welfare.

This stage of love answers to filial fear (timor filialis) when one thinks no longer about punishment nor fears it, but dreads to give displeasure or offense to the beloved one and carefully avoids all that arouses the anger of God.

The sorrow arising from perfect love is therefore perfect sorrow, contritio. This, like unselfish love, may have varying stages of intensity and "may be more or less perfect; no special degree of intensity, however, is required, and the lowest is sufficient. It is only right and desirable, however, that we should have the greatest sorrow possible for our sins, penetrating soul and body, so that the whole man may repent of his faults and the tools of sin become again instruments of love. This, however, is not always in our power, and, being a grace, we must ask for it.

We may now sum up our conclusions: Perfect contrition, contritio is the hatred of sin proceeding from a pure love of God with a firm resolution of amendment, a disposition which includes filial fear, and, so far from excluding the hope of salvation and fear of punishment, tends rather to develop them.