On Loving God
On Loving God
To the most illustrious Lord Haimeric, Cardinal-Deacon and Chancellor of the See of Rome, from Bernard, Abbot of Clairvaux, wishing that he may live for the Lord and die in him. Up to now it has been your custom to ask me for prayers and not for answers to questions. Let me confess I am not very apt at either, although my profession implies prayer even if my conduct falls short of my obligations.… I do not promise to answer all of your questions, but only that which you ask, about loving God; even then my answer will be what he deigns to bestow upon me. This subject tastes sweeter to the mind, is treated with more certainty, and is listened to with greater profit. Keep the other questions for more brilliant intellects.
You wish me to tell you why and how God should be loved. My answer is that God himself is the reason why he is to be loved. As for how he is to be loved, there is to be no limit to that love. Is this sufficient answer? Perhaps, but only for a wise man. As I am indebted, however, to the unwise also (Romans 1:14), it is customary to add something for them after saying enough for the wise.* [* Apparently “A word to the wise is sufficient” is a very old saying.] Therefore for the sake of those who are slow to grasp ideas I do not find it burdensome to treat of the same ideas more extensively if not more profoundly. Hence I insist that there are two reasons why God should be loved for his own sake: no one can be loved more righteously and no one can be loved with greater benefit. Indeed, when it is asked why God should be loved, there are two meanings possible in the question. For it can be questioned which is rather the question: whether for what merit of his or for what advantage to us is God to be loved. My ...