William of Saint Theirry was a Cistercian monk who lived in the twelfth century. One of the things that he’s known for is his writing on the subject of love. Here are his words from today’s Divine Office.
“You first loved us so that we might love you–not because you needed our love, but because we could not be what you created us to be, except by loving you….This, Lord, is your word to us, this is your all-powerful message: while all things were in midnight silence (that is, were in tepths of error), he (your Son) came from his royal throne, the stern conqueror of error, and the gentle Apostle of love.
“You are the one supremely good and ultimate goodness. Your love is your goodness, the Holy Spirit proceeding from the Father and the son! From the beginning of creation it was he who hovered over the waters–that is, over the wavering minds of men, offering himself to all, drawing all things to himself. By his inspiratiaon and holy breath, by keeping us from harm and providing for our needs, he unites God to us and us to God.”
Just two weeks ago, Pope Benedict XVI had this to say about William:
“The image of God present in man impels him towards resemblance; that is, towards an ever fuller identification between his will and the divine will.”
William calls this drive towards resemblance, towards perfection, “unity of spirit.” It cannot be achieved through individual effort, the Pope said. But it is done “by the action of the Holy Spirit which purifies and transforms into charity all the desire for love present in the human being.”
“In this way man becomes by grace what God is by nature,” the Holy Father concluded.
For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.