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August 18, 2006

Comments

John

John is referred to as the disciple that Jesus loved. Isn't this to be interpreted as "loved more" rather than that he didn't love the others? If so, it is additional proof that God (Jesus) loves some more than others.

Ed Peters

Let's simplify this. Take good angels. No question, each good angel has accepted all the love God ofered him, right? But does God love each angel to the same degree/amount/intensity, what you will? (For that matter, does He hate all bad angels equally?) I say No, to both questions.

It is, moreover, insufficient to put the matter this way: "One could also say, though, that God does not love one creature more than another in that he recognizes that all creatures are equal before him--they have nothing unless he gives them something." Such does not prove (even from one perspective) that God loves everyone equally, it only proves that all share a common characteristic in regard to God's love, namely, that the lovableness of all is based on something put there by God. It does NOT address whether that quality of loveableness is EQUALLY bestowed.

I say it is not, clearly not for angels, and not for man either (though the mutability of human will complciates the results).

Ok?

Bear

I once heard an analogy: God's love is like water, and we are like vessels into which it is poured. Different vessels can hold different amounts, but all are completely filled.

Dan E.

Interesting. I have never really comtemplated the question as to the degree of love God held for me as compared to Mother Teresa or Moses. I guess I always assumed God's love was a perfect love and that He loved us all.

Certainly, I understand that he hates our sins and that if we reject Him, He will reject us. But if two persons are in His grace, are we to believe that God loves one more than the other? Whom would you say God loved more, Francis or Clare?

Ed Peters

Folks, you might want to see the earlier line of posts on this so we don't spend a lot of time repeating points or answering questions that were addressed.

DanE. I don't know whom God loved more, Francis or Clare. But we can be sure it was one of them.

francis 03

Can we? That would depend on whether God's love comes in discrete quantities. If so, you could theoretically have a "tie" for how much God loves people.

But I also think there's a useful distinction to be drawn between the quantity and the quality of God's love. Seems to me that the quality of God's love is the same for everyone, but the quantity varies according to whether or not we're willing to accept and respond to Him.

Brother Cadfael

A vessel that is larger has more water poured into it, assuming both are full. The more one is open to receiving God's love, the more of God's love that person receives. St. Teresa was no doubt more open to receiving God's love than I am (through every fault of my own). Therefore, I have no problem saying, truthfully, that God loves St. Teresa more than me, even though I would say at the same time that God loves me perfectly. It is truly a paradox (two seemingly contradictory truths).

Randolph Carter

I was always under the assumption that God loves all of us infinitely, but that whether or not we choose to accept that love, or reject it, is up to us to choose. . . .

Also, shouldn't this post be titled "Whom Does God Love More?"

Ed Peters

francis, no. you can no more have a "tie" than you can have two of the same people.

bro. cad. where's the paradox? they are not simultaneously true but opposite observations, they true but different observations.

go back to angels, folks: God loves angel X perfectly, He loves angel Y perfectly; both completely accept all the love God he offers. that does not demand AT ALL that He love them identically (sorry if degree, quality, quantity, whatever is not good word, there are some limits ot human speech here)

there's no paradox AT ALL in saying the above.

Ed Peters

randolph: be careful (and I hesitate to raise this becuase I'd be happy if we got clear on one or two points rather than trying for even more) but be careful in saying "God loves us all infinitely". The Father loves the Son "infinitely" because the Father is capable of loving infinitely AND BECAUSE THE SON IS CAPABLE OF BEING LOVED INFINITELY. I am not sure you can say that about angels or humans.

Ray from MN

I would expect that those who love to a greater degree have the capacity to "be loved" to a proportionally greater degree also.

Those who respond to God's blessings with love in return surely are loved more than those who just accept their blessings with no thanks at all.

Therefore, the Blessed Mother who never sinned most likely has the greatest capacity to receive God's love.

francis 03

With respect, Ed, such a definitive answer to my question would seem to require a bit of explication. While you can't have two of the same person, you can have two people with identical characteristics. Two people can be the same height, or the same sex, or have the same number of limbs. Why can't they be loved the same amount?

Ed Peters

francis wrote: "you can have two people with identical characteristics".

no, you can't. one can, at most, find two people with SOME identical characteristics.

Ed Peters

I should cut francis a little slack in his reply; there is equivocation in the language, in this phrase. but there should not be in the point as we are identifying it. e.g., I would not want to describe GOd's love for us as one of "our" chracteristics. be we risk running down rabbit trail here.

won't anybody talk about angels? they really are a great way to make the point, since there is no question of their wills impacting on their capacity to be loved by God. they are either all identical in that respect, or they aren't. Is ay they aren't

Some Day

Judas was one that was givin much, but responded little. In fact he responded negatively.
Does God love him as much as St. John?
NO, definetly not. He said of Judas that it was better of him not to have been born. Many saints consider that a garantee that he is in Hell. Maybe in the future, a Pope might do for Judas and others inversely of a cannonization, like an "anti-cannonization". Whatever that is off topic.
We are greatly deformed in thought and reason.
In many things. The French Revolution, Rennaisance and Protestant Reformation caused a mass change in public opinion. The term equal was applied to every human being. Now in a certain sense we are equal, we are of flesh, have certain rights and are creatures of God. But not all are equal entirely. A baptised child is worth more than a pagan genius, because he with baptism is made a son of God, and the Divine Grace is with him. How great is the Divine Grace?
I believe St.Thomas said that "one drop"of grace is worth more that the whole creation.
Definetly not equal there.
Another thing is vocation.
Comparing saints is not a good thing, so I won't do that. I'll analyze their vocations.
St. Martin de Porres was a saint who was called to be a sweeper, pretty much. He operated miracles, but he was still a humble sweeper.
God loves him GREATLY. He responded to his vocation and loved God with all he could.
He is loved more by God more than you or me, because we are greater sinners than he.
St.Peter denied him atleast 3 times.
But he converted when the Holy Spirit came, and he completed maybe the highest vocation that ever existed. He gave more because he was called to, and he is loved for responding. The higher the vocations, the harder it is to be faithful. Lucifer was the greatest of the Seraphin, the highest choir of Angels. He is the worst person in history because he sinned being the highest creature than created. Mary was later the best, most perfect creature. She was given priveleges no other human had recieved. She was perfect. Such perfection could dominate the world, be worldly and rich etc.
She was humble. And God loved her more that other creature for that.
The greatest made herself the most humblest.
How can all creatures be loved the same?
I would never want to be loved the same as the saints. Unless I become one. Then I want to be the lowest of the saints ever, but atleast a saint. Don't worry about being loved more than another.
Worry about loving God more than any other.

francis 03

All right. You can have two people with an identical characteristic, or some identical characteristics. I hope my examples conveyed that meaning even if my language was ambiguous. But I think the point stands.

Of course it's also possible for a single person to possess an identical relationship with two other people (i.e., I can be a brother to two or several different people), so if we correct the undue homocentricity of the original example and focus on how much God loves people the theoretical possibility remains that the quantity of God's love for two people might be identical.

I'm not saying this is actually the case. The reason I posed the initial question was more or less as a commentary on the rabbit-hole nature of the whole problem. Whether you look at "how much God loves person X" as a characteristic of person X or as a quality of God, to say that two people couldn't be "tied" is, it seems to me, to assume away a large part of the question you're asking.

BillyHW

It's not a question in this case of whether one uses one's blessings to produce little fruit or much fruit. It's a question of whether you choose to produce fruit or whether you choose to produce . . . uh . . . anti-fruit.

Hmmmm, I wonder what the energy output of a fruit-antifruit reaction chamber would be and if it would be enough to power a starship.

Lily

I have this little piece of a memory in the back of my head, saying that some people (the Blessed Virgin, St Teresa, St Francis of Assisi) are like huge vessels for God's love, and God gives them all that they can contain.
Some others (me, for example) are like shot glasses: We are just tiny. But God loves the shot glass people just as much as we can hold, too...We suffer no loss of love, only a diminution of capacity....So, if we are loved "less", we are still totally loved.

Someday, I'll remember who said that. I know its not original.

MissJean

When I meet God face to face, I'm just going to ask one question, "Who do you love more - me or me?" :)

Ed Peters

lily: yes, that point has been made SEVERAL times, but some people are not helped by it (and it does, as a matter fact, leave a couple of gaps), so we're trying to find another way to explain it.

f03: i take no position (here) on your other interesting but unrelated-to-our-topic points. still, you're getting closer.

folks, new way to ask the question: who here believes that God gives everyone an identical capacity to KNOW Him? anyone? anyone here think they can KNOW God as well as, gee, Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, or Our Lady?

If God can be completely unfettered in His donation of capacity to KNOW Him, does that not tend toward upholding His freedom in giving each person (and angel) an utterly distinct capacity for holiness and to be loved by Him?

boy, for a JimmyQ, I sure am doing a lot of talking here. But note: most of points are purely at the level of logic, not theology. several people are using false categories, leaping to unsupported conclusions, or using misleading analogies. one does not have to be a theologian to see that. just a relatively clear thinker.

g'nite all. and remember, the next person you meet is either (A) endowed with a greater to be loved by God than you are, so honor/love him the more for it as God wants to, or (B) he was given a lesser share in love of God than you got, in which case your gratitude to God for his added beneficence to you show overflow in augmented charity for those less blessed and greater penance for your own sins, you who should do better!

not that, in this life, you'll usually be ale to tell exactly who is which, of course. still, one day, we will know.

Some Day

Exactly.
Love God regardless of the reward.
Fear Him regardless of Hell.
We are called to give. God loves you enough.
Don't worry about how much. You could spend a thousand lifetimes and still not measure it.
Even Judas could have repented and be forgiven.
Even Lucifer if he was capable could ask for forgiveness. And the Lord will have mercy. That is how much God loves even the lowest of creatures. So don't worry about how much ya gettin.
Worry about how much YOU LOVE HIM.
Blessings

Brother Cadfael

Ed,

I did not explain the paradox artfully (and maybe it is not one). God has an infinite love for me, and yet he loves someone else more. It is contradictory to say that something is infinite on the one hand (God's love for me), and say that something is greater than it on the other hand (God's love for Teresa). Yet both are equally true.

J.R. Stoodley

In light of Jimmy's post this is how I now see it.

I would separate first our human existance from the gifts or blessings God gives us.

I think it is safe to say that all human beings (men, whether male or female) are images of God to an equal degree, in terms of our human natures. That and the mere fact of existence is what equalizes all men. In this way God would love us all equally.

Similarly angels I presume all have an angelic nature that makes them all equal before God, in that sense.

However, for his own reasons God endows his creatures, both angels and men, with different gifts (blessings), and different levels or quantitiy of those gifts or blessings.

Thus if we (and I had never heard of this before) equate blessings with love, then yes, God loves some more than others, though on the other hand to whom much is given much is expected, so we are equal in the sense of God expecting us to make the most of whatever He has given us.

Also, I would speculate that God also loves the blessings themselves, despite the fact that (or even because) they came from Him. If God could not love anything that came from Him then He couldn't love anything but Himself. I this way, considering the good qualities in angels or men, which are in origin His blessings, God loves better creatures more than lesser ones, the good more than the evil and the best more than the less good.

But again all creatures are equal before Him because they all recieve everything, even their beings, from Him and because the fundamental nature of man or angel is the same for all individuals, and that nature is the reason God loves us enough to bless us in the first place.

Some Day

Forgive me Brother,
But God does not love you infinetely.
His love for Himself is. His Mercy is infinite.
As long as you follow the requirements of asking forgiveness, you will be forgiven.
It is not true to say He loves you infinite.
And you are right it is contradictory.
So how do you yourself find it true?

Equally cannot be explained in the same way as we think in human terms when talking about God

God loves all of us
God wants us all to respond to him
through our free will we may (or may not) respond in the same ways)

I think there is some danger in this discussion to seem to make God capricious or unfair
or to try to explain in Thomastic terms that which cannot be explained

J.R. Stoodley

Some Day, I'd say you are on the right track. None of us will love God as much as He loves us, so there is not worry that we will end up loving God more than is warrented by the level of love He has for you or me.

Brother Cadfael,

I think Ed Peters is right in saying that God loves no one besides the Son (and I'd think the Holy Spirit but that get's complicated) with Infinite Love. The Son responds to the Father's Love with the same Love and that Love becomes (eternally, there was no time when He was not) the Third Person, the Holy Spirit. You can see now why it would be complicated to hold that the Father or the Son loved the Holy Spirit with the Love that is Himself, though maybe this is in a mysterious way the case. There is only one Etarnal Being so I suppose that is why the Eternal Love of God is actually God Himself, in the sense that there is only one God and each person is wholy that God.

I hope you can see know why God does not direct that same exact Love to yourself, the way He directs it to His Son. You, being a finite creature, recieve a finite amount of love, though still much. God will never stop loving you to some degree (even if you are damned he will love the good that your existance is, and I would postulate love your human nature, even if not any other quality of you, if Jimmy's idea of anti-purgatory is right). If you are in heaven God will love you even more for all eternity, so if by infinite love you mean love that will last for eternity then you are right. But the "quantity" of love that God will bestow on you or any creature is finite. I'm not sure if it is equal to or more than the level of love that you are actually able to recieve. Certainly God will give you after death all the love you are able to recieve, hence the primary meaning of St. Therese's metaphor.

Still, another thought occurs to me. God does give us His Holy Spirit. Now, remember that the Holy Spirit is indeed God Himself not a power of God as the Eastern Christians emphasis hence their discomfort with the Western idea of the Holy Spirit as Divine Love. So we receive the person of God into our souls at baptism (or in post-humous removal of Original Sin), not necessarily the Eternal Love of God as directed to His Son.

Still, we do receive that Love in a sense, and we often here about how we are brought into the Divine Family and share in It's Life and Love, this being the primary joy of heaven.

Does this mean in any sense that we do experience that Eternal Love directed to the Son, being adopted sons of God, sharing in Life and Death of Christ, His divine Kingship, Priesthood, Prophethood, and haveing the Holy Spirit Who is that Divine Love in our hearts and souls? As these thoughts occure to me I feel like I am again on the precipice of a great mystery, part of which may mean that we are indeed loved with that Eternal Love, though we certainly don't merit this. I know I have contradicted myself, but there it is.

Brother Cadfael

Some Day,

Forgive me Brother,
But God does not love you infinetely.
His love for Himself is. His Mercy is infinite.

Mercy is a form of love, and specifically the form that love takes when suffering is still present in the world. So to the extent you are trying to say that His love for me is not infinite, but His mercy is, I would disagree.

J.R.,

I don't think we disagree, but I'll try to dig in a little deeper here.

The amount of love that God gives is infinite, because what He gives is nothing less than Himself. He is infinite, and in no way would it be correct to say that He only gives us a part of Himself. Now He gives Himself not just generally, but to me specifically. Since it is true that He gives Himself completely to me, and does not just give me a part of Himself, it is true that He loves me infinitely. You have also noted that His love for me will last forever, and so we can also say that it is infinite in that sense, but I think we err in limiting it to the temporal sense.

As Ed stated, and many others have repeated in one form or fashion in this combox, I, you and many others in this combox have noted, our capacity to receive God's love is finite, and differs from person to person (only the other two Persons of the Trinity who have an infinite capacity to receive the Father's love).

Thus, it is true to say that (1) God loves me infinitely, and (2) God loves St. Teresa more than He loves me. If I hold on to one truth at the expense of the other, I lose the richness of both. That is what makes this situation like a paradox.

Ed said that it is not a paradox, I think, because on the one hand you are looking at how much love God gives -- an infinite amount -- and on the other hand you are looking at how much a finite creature receives -- a finite amount. I tend to agree with him that it may not be a paradox in the strict sense of the word, because they involve different observations.


Brother Cadfael

J.R.

So we receive the person of God into our souls at baptism (or in post-humous removal of Original Sin), not necessarily the Eternal Love of God as directed to His Son.

I don't think we can separate the Persons of God from the Eternal Love of God, but you seem to have corrected this in your splendid concluding paragraph.

Sean S.

Here's how I like to think of it:

How much does God love St. Thomas? More than my feeble human mind can ever comprehend.

How much does God love me? More than my feeble human mind can ever comprehend.

How much does God love Osama bin Laden? More than my feeble human mind can ever comprehend.

I personally find it doesn't do me any good to think it a whole lot farther than that...at least for me, if I think in terms of a finite quantity, I have a tendency to imagine one that's within my comprehension.

I guess I sometimes think God has a particular love for me that is only for Sean...just as he has a particular love for his mother that is only for his mother, and a particular love for St. Thomas that is only for St. Thomas. He loves us each as individuals, not as "This guy is a level 3 on the holiness chart, so I'll love him like I love level 3s." Sean or Thomas or Mohammed is a unique creation of God, intended for himself, and loved for that.

Also, I think it's important to keep in mind that every single person has the power to be a great saint. Maybe not a publicly recognized saint, or one with great talents (St. Thomas' mind, say) but a great one nonetheless.

Melvin

I speak here only of personal experience:

When God blessed me with material blessings (as I realized He did), I produced evil fruit...

For some time, losing those blessings and going through much pain and anguish, I thought God hated me...

Ruminating on the possible fact that God loves some more than others (whatever that might mean), I initially felt anger and resentment toward God...God forgive me...

And then I remembered that God loved me so much that He died for me...and through the ministry of His Church, received me back and forgave all my sins...

Praise be to God!

Karen

God will love you perfectly and in accordance to how He made you. We're all different. I've already accepted that God will likely love His perfect Mother more than me, and even His/Our Mother didn't merit the gifts she received from Him. Just for one example. This question highlights the importance of using one's talents and focusing on trust in God and how we can ask Him for gifts and graces to serve Him. Saint Faustina, however, endeavored not to be loved the most, but to *love* the most.

God died for me. Woah. He wants me to be part of His family. Every Eucharistic celebration I'm invited back as a family member to share in the flesh and blood to be a part of this family God so much wants me to be a part of. THE God, the perfect source of everything--is my Father!

I'm also assured that if I get to Heaven, I'll be "perfected" as only I can be in my own unique way, and that I'll be happy and totally satisfied in such a way that even an eternity in this state won't get tiresome or bore me, and I won't be covetous or anguishing about being a smaller-but-full shot glass among some full gallon-sized saints. I can't help but look forward to this possibility!

Joseph

Brother Cadfael is right.

HE LOVES EACH OF US INFINITELY. JUST BECAUSE AS FINITE CREATURES WE ARE LIMITED AS TO THE AMOUNT OF LOVE WE CAN PERSONALLY RECIEVE, DOES NOT MEAN THAT GOD'S LOVE IS LIMITED OR IN VARYING AMOUNTS OR DEGREES. GODS LOVE FOR EACH PERSON IS INFINITE.

The sun shines in all its fullness on all of us, yet we all recieve it in varying amounts.

amelia

But why is it so important to be aware that God loves some people more than others? This doesn't come up often, well, maybe deep in theology class but it's not an idea that I've seen made a point anywhere in typical fervently orthodox lay Catholic reading material but a couple of blogs. If it's true, then I guess it must be "important," but there must be a reason the point isn't pressed. To my knowledge this blog is written with the expectation and hope that the curious and theologically non-expert will stumble upon it.

I can't imagine it being helpful to my interactions with others to be mindful, as Ed said, that "the next person you meet is either (A) endowed with a greater to be loved by God than you are" or "(B) he was given a lesser share in love of God than you got." I already knew I was supposed to treat people a certain way, and I think it would only be a distraction to stand there contemplating that God supposedly must love one of us in particular "more" (which is different from accepting that God loves some people more than others.)

Am I alone in this reaction to the thread? Maybe I am missing something. Don't mean to come across more confrontational than puzzled.

Joseph

So, the error of some here seems to be that of placing the limitations of the vessel (us) on to the one who fills it (God).

Just because we are limited as the the amount of love we can recieve does not mean that the amount of love given is limited. And so, God loves each of us infinitely.

HENCE, THE LIMITATION IS OURS, NOT GOD'S. The Light shines on all in all its fullness.

francis 03

Ed, you say that "several people are using false categories, leaping to unsupported conclusions, or using misleading analogies. one does not have to be a theologian to see that. just a relatively clear thinker."

Since you are essentially saying here that no "clear thinker" would have made the statements that people have on this thread, it seems very unfair that you make no attempt to back up this statement with argumentation.

It honestly looks to me like you are making summary statements of your opinion on this topic, and then saying that anyone who disagrees can't think very well.

Ed Peters

hi f03. I have not made the errors you suggest, but i dislike, in com box arenas, going back and showing that i did not say what X heard, essentially retracing ground that anyone can read for themselves and draw conclusions on. in fact, i have given several reasons for my positions, which almost no one is even touching on, let alone countering; instead, my adversaries (golly, I'm a lawyer people) are the ones who are simply restating their positions with no attempt to meet the proofs, examples, analogies that I have offered. as if restating an erroneous position makes it suddenly true. oh well. people can and do live happy holy lives without understanding the topic we are discussing here, and whatever duties toward the common good I might have had in this matter have been satisfied by my posts, so "cui bono amplius"? kindest regards, f03!

Dan E.

It has been stated rather emphatically throughout this discussion that God loved some saints more than others ("I don't know whom God loved more, Francis or Clare. But we can be sure it was one of them."), and presumably this would be the same for the eleven apostles (leaving out the "son of perdition"). The point has also been made that God loves His son, Jesus, infinitely because only Jesus had the capacity to be loved to that scale, being the perfect being that He was. What then are we to make of the prayer from Jesus to His Father in John 17?

"O righteous Father, although the world has not known You, yet I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me; and I have made Your name known to them, and will make it known, so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them."

...so that the love with which You loved Me (the perfect, infinite love which has been emphasized in several posts above) may be in them...

From my reading I hear Jesus asking the Father to love the Apostles as He loved Jesus. This would be infinitely according to many posters here.

Brother Cadfael

Ed,

I've been noodling over your question about angels.

I had to dig out Peter Kreeft's book on angels first, to satisfy myself that your premise was true. According to him, angels are more individually different than humans because each angel is a distinct species, "as different from another angel as cats from dogs." It is thus reasonable to assume (even if not certain) that each angel has been granted a different degree of lovableness by God, and to conclude that God loves one angel more than another.

I guess what I'm having difficulty with is what point you're trying to prove that has not already been accepted by the majority of posters here?

For God, to love is to give Himself completely to the object of His love. This is true for each Person of the Trinity, and it is true for each human loved by God, and I can conceive of no way this would not also be true for angels. He thus loves each angel infinitely, but loves some angels more than others (depending on the capacity of each individual angel to receive God's love).

So, I end up in the same place, and angels don't really change much. (I'm sure my guardian angel understands!)


Brother Cadfael

Dan E.,

From my reading I hear Jesus asking the Father to love the Apostles as He loved Jesus. This would be infinitely according to many posters here.

Yes. Salvation is, literally, entering into the inner life of the Trinity, and our capacity to receive God's love grows to the extent Christ is within us. We participate in His life, and in the love He receives from the Father. That is fundamentally why "He must increase; I must decrease."

Fr. Seraphim Beshoner, TOR

I wonder if we aren't looking at this from too much of a Western perspective. I would like to throw in St. Gregory of Nyssa's concept of Epektasis. The traditional Western understanding is that we are like the shot glass with some finite capacity for God's love that is unchanging. Gregory's understanding would be that while our capacity for God's love is always finite, it also is always increasing. Therefore, we will always grow in our capacity, but never be able to fully accept the infinite love that God offers. This also fits in with the Eastern conception of Theosis.

Each of us is called to, and has the capacity for, becoming god [in so far that this is humanly possible]. No human being has more of a capacity for this than any other [except for Jesus, of course]. However, our personal capacity is not necessarily as developed as someone else's capacity is - i.e. The Blessed Mother's capacity is much further developed than mine is].

I also think about those whom the comments have identified as most loved by God. These are also those who would have identified themselves as the worst of sinners.

Richard

Personally I don't think this is a good thread. It causes confusion and implies something it is not.
We don't want to "create" or imply or confuse an unfair God who has our human traits of unfairness and injustice.

Ryan Herr

Well, I was away from internet access for a few days, which may have been good - I probably would have been overactive monitoring and responding in the combox and gotten myself all worked up.

Jimmy, thanks for addressing the question, you are very helpful. I was looking at things from your perspective #1 of 4.

Some are wondering, does it really matter if God loves some more than others? We all seem to be clear that God loves everyone. (The Catechism is clear on this too - see paragraph 605.) In my opinion, we would do well to remember that God loves each of us very much. I mean, in his first encyclical B16 reminds us that God "lavishes" His love on us. St. Alphonus Ligouri has written: "Consider that no one - whether friend or brother, father or mother, lover or spouse - loves you more than your God. ... He went so far as to become a little Babe and to live in poverty and die on a cross for our sake. He even placed Himself under the species of bread so as to be with us always and in the most intimate union. In short, so great is God's love for you that He seems to love no one but you."

So, if God loves all of us, and loves us more than any of our family and friends could ever love of us, why bother to ask if God loves St. Clare more than St. Francis? I guess I still have strong feelings about the matter because it seems like going around saying that "God loves some people more than others" without any sort of explanation can cause much confusion and discouragement. In my opinion, in this case the confusion and discouragement should have been very predictable, and hence preventable. We do no service to the truth by being precise without being thorough or pastoral.

Ryan Herr

Fr. Seraphim wrote, "[St. Gregory of Nyssa's] understanding would be that while our capacity for God's love is always finite, it also is always increasing. Therefore, we will always grow in our capacity, but never be able to fully accept the infinite love that God offers."

Ed Peters previously wrote, "... be careful in saying "God loves us all infinitely". The Father loves the Son "infinitely" because the Father is capable of loving infinitely AND BECAUSE THE SON IS CAPABLE OF BEING LOVED INFINITELY. I am not sure you can say that about angels or humans."

I am left wondering whether indeed it is proper to call God's love for mankind or for individual men 'infinite.' As in the original related question, does this have tension and depend upon our perspective and usage of terms?

According to my hazy memory, Frank Sheed writes that true infinity cannot be divided into smaller parts. However, I might be taking him badly out of context.

chris K

The Father can only love what is good. And who is good but the Father. What therefore God loves in anyone or any creation is only that which reflects His own love. He can therefore only love us as He sees His Son reflected in us. He's looking for Himself. It really has nothing so subjectively personal in that love ... as from our point of view we always argue according to our own needs. He had to give St. Teresa a personality with what it would take to carry out His own will in her. She could, being human, fight at times against her own weaknesses which would cause a certain suffering ... so that she herself could feel that God must not like her very much since "He treats His friends" in such ways! Nevertheless, He would get what He willed through her. We should not be worried so much about our needs or competitions of love to somehow equate our worthiness ... but leave that all in God's hands. In the "Divine Will" messages to Luisa Piccaretta, whose cause is now being studied, there is a new introduction to actually living in that Divine Will and different from that which has been in the past thinking, only submitting oneself or even living some mystical union. What God is ultimately seeking is Himself freely given rein in ourselves as His other "hosts" as St. Faustina or Elizabeth of the Trinity spoke of. That is, participating in His "sun" which can give life to all through only a few who live this Divine Will. And that is to be the new era of "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven". He then, is the focus, not ourselves or our capacities. Mother Teresa lived mostly in the dark night never knowing one way or the other her own worthiness or fulfillment. Probably we will all see that if we had only trusted more He could have done more ... since each is needed ... and each falls short ... except of course Jesus and His mother.

Mordocai

I think of God's love as a comparable to the love of a mother.
Perhaps one child leads a life of sin, another a holy life.
Ask any mother which of her kids she loves the most, and each one (if she's any kind of mother at all) will tell you, I love both my children with all my heart.
Perhaps one child she loves with a broken heart?...
But that last sentence was just kind of a reflection question. My point is, it's like the Prodigal Son and his father I would think.

Kevin from Ohio in Virginia

I wonder how much any of this matters in the grand scheme of things. It's fun to discuss and debate things to an extent, I suppose, but are we ever going to be able to know with 100% certainty who's right and who's wrong until we stand in His presence and experience His love on a first hand basis? I doubt that any of us can begin to grasp the basics of God's love, let alone the intricacies of it, until that day.

I do know that He loves me, and that works for now.

Some Day

To Brother:
Mercy is an act of love. So is justice.
God does not love you infinitely. Not to say that you are a generally bad person, but that no one recieves that but Himself. If God loved us infinetely than it would be a waste, for starters.
We are incapable of returning that love. God Himself is, in such a way that it generates 2 other Persons apart from the Father. Now God loves us alot. Maybe He loves a creature to a degree that it is UNMEASURABLE, but not infinite.
Our Lady's perfection is unmeasurable even by the angels, yet she is not infinite.
....
And as for people saying it might make God seem unfair... nothing is fair if God didn't make it so or the competent authority, the Church.
Some said it might be unpastoral to say all truths.
It is true, not all truths are meant to be told.
But this is one that should be, so long as it is explained correctly.

Matthew L. Martin


Did anyone cite the Summa in the previous discussion?

Whether God loves all things equally?

Does God love more the better things?

Some Day

The Summa beats all.
A great link to end the dicussion.

Brother Cadfael

Some Day,

With respect to the relationship between love and mercy, Pope John Paul II says the following in Dives in Misericordia.

It is precisely the mode and sphere in which love manifests itself that in biblical language is called "mercy." . . . one encounters a problem of major importance with reference to the meaning of terms and the content of concepts, especially the content of the concept of "mercy" (in relationship to the concept of "love"). A grasp of the content of these concepts is the key to understanding the very reality of mercy. And this is what is most important for us."

and

"mercy is an indispensable dimension of love; it is as it were love's second name and, at the same time, the specific manner in which love is revealed and effected vis-a-vis the reality of the evil that is in the world.

Are you saying that God is not infinite? Or that He is not Love? Or that Jesus Christ is not God? Or that He did not die for me? Or that He does not give Himself to me in the Eucharist? Or are you saying that He just gives a part of Himself to me in the Eucharist?

Which is it?

There is nothing unfair about the notion that God loves others more about me. It's not fair for Him to love me at all, but He still does. And the fact that I don't deserve any love, or that He loves others more than me, does not change the fact that He also loves me infinitely.

Some Day

He loves you so much you can never measure it.
But not infinite. Prove it He loves you infinitely. You can't. You usually argue good things but this is not one of them.
This is a sin Lucifer participated in.
You basically are saying God love the Blessed Mother and you the SAME!
Please Brother.
He loves you so much you can't measure it.
That doesn't make it infinite.

Rhys

Asking, "God, who do you love more, x or y?" seems a lot like asking, "Jesus, who will sit at your right hand when you come into the kingdom?"

people are individuals. I don't think you can compare the love God has for them in terms of more or less.(except in terms of blessings or the other things as Jimmy mentioned) It is probably simply different. It's just comparing apples and oranges.God would probably think we are asking the wrong questions. God loves each individual person 100%. Now stop arguing what the percentage points themselves signify.

Discussing it any further than that goes beyond what we can handle in our fallen state. Any comparing of people involving terms of "more" and "less" in this way brings us into dangers of envy, pride and despair.

Brother Cadfael

Some Day,

Thanks. At this point, I think it's probably best to say that we disagree on this point and move on.

But just to clarify, I am not saying that He loves me as much as He loves the Blessed Mother (or any of the Saints, for that matter). I really think you are missing my point here, but if you're not getting it from my previous posts, I'm not sure what else I can say.

Lily

I think one reason this is hard (impossible?) to get our heads around, is that comparing the saints--who are, by definition, enjoying the Beatific Vision--with those of us who have been sitting up, surfing the web because we can't sleep. & who are grumpy & selfish & bad-tempered & have forgotten to change the cat's box again...That kind of dividing line is pretty dramatic. I doubt if the human mind can get around it.

I do know that I can understand that St Teresa loves me, I can understand that God loves St Teresa, & I know that I am an unprofitable servant who can't keep up the housework, much less please God....
And yet, you see, it was St Teresa who wrote somewhere, that "His Majesty showed me" (how I love that phrase!), that if no one but she had ever been going to respond to God's offer of forgiveness, that Jesus Christ would have come to earth & died on the cross for just Teresa de Ahumada....
Another time, she also said, that Teresa & 2 pennies is worth 2 pennies; Teresa, 2 pennies & God are worth everything. But--though she never would have said so, she was, after all, a saint in the making, & therefore, more loveable. (Which brings us,by way of a fullish circle, back where we started from.

Brother Cadfael

As to why questions like this one are useful to bat around on blogs like this, the notion that God loves everyone equally is, it would seem to me, the first step to marginalizing Mary and the Saints. I'm not saying that everyone who believes the former necessarily believes the latter, but it is certainly easier to disregard the Blessed Mother if God loves you just as much as He loves her.

Some Day

That is what I', saying. If you say God loves you infinite, then He loves you the same as Himself ,Mary, Luther and Mohommed, because infinity has has no degress or anyways to diminish it into smaller things.

Tim J.

What's scary is that I understood that.

Joseph

God loved Satan and all the fallen angels infinitely. He loved Judas infinitely. He loved them the same as He loves us. Infinitely.

However, the tragedy in this is that they did not love Him in return.


Joseph

The difference between the Blessed Mother, St. Teresa and the average person IS NOT in how much God loves each them (He loves each infinitely), IT IS IN HOW MUCH THEY LOVE GOD.

While in part our capacity to love is determined by God Himself in the measure that He created us (ex.- a shot glass, a teacup, a pitcher etc), but it is within this confine that we ourselves determine the degree or measure by which we love Him in return.


Joseph

So the difference between the Blessed Mother, St Teresa and your average Joe is not in the degree that God loves them, but in the capcity and degree by which they love Him.

The Blessed Mother is an ocean of love.
St. Teresa is a pitcher of love.
Many of us are a tiny shot glass of love.

But, God for His part loves us all infinitely.

Joseph

Now, if the Blessed Mother is an ocean of love, and St. Teresa is a pitcher of love, and many of us are shot-glasses of love, then the argument could indeed be that since God created us "vessels" in varying capacities, He therefore loves us in different amounts.

And this is how "God wills for some things a greater good." thereby loving one more than another as St. Thomas states in the "Summa".
Such a love however in the Divine Will. But at the same time in the Divine Esssence, God loves each person infinitely.

While a mystery, this is how it is possible that God can love one person more than another (ie. in the measure of good that He wills for each -Divine will), and how He can love each person infinitely at the same time(ie. in the Divine Essence).


Some Day

Sorry,
It is not a mystery as there is no infinite aspect to His love in relation to creatures.
Some say every act of God is infinite.
Not exactly true. God does not exercise His right fully upon condemnation of a soul to Hell. Hell is infinitely soft compared to an offense however small to God. Why? Because God is infinite and an offense to an Infinite Being, the only one ofcourse is God, deserves an infinite punishment, as an extreme only God can make. That is why the Redemption had to be paid by "another"infinite being. Our Lord, being the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, was the only one who could pay the debt to an infinite being. God is the only one who can "pay" to God.
This proves that God doesn't do everything infinitely. God is Love, so that is why He can infintely love Himself. He loves us in what He made good in us. Only God is an entirely self-sustaining being who can love with such intensity.
That is a mystery. How can One God, the Father, contemptate Himself, and generate (is that the right word, I only know it in Latin and Spanish) the Son, and the Father sees the Son, Loves Him Infinitely, and the Son, being the same God, infinitely loves the Father, and that love is so "infinite"that it generates a third Person,
the Holy Spirit...THAT IS A MYSTERY!
One can spend eternity contemplating that...
And I hope all of us will
God Bless

Brother Cadfael

Some Day,

I agree with pretty much everything you have said with respect to the differences in how God loves each of us. I do not question that He loves some more than others, and the Blessed Mother most of any created being.

Rather than simply repeat myself, however, I have a question for you. Do you agree that when God loves someone, He gives Himself to the person that He loves?

J.R. Stoodley

All right, my turn to chime in again, and I don't care if anyone accuses me of flip-floping. I think I am coming to a fuller realization of the issue.

We start with our own existence and our own human nature made in the image and likeness of God. These things are good and make us good, lovable creatures, and further make all men (male and female) equal.

Man then falls, bringing something disordered into his being and tending to fall into sin, thus incurring moral guilt. Still, God gives gifts, blessings, to men, and not equally to all men. Furthermore God loves what is good in a man or woman, so between the differing levels of goodness in people and the differing blessings bestowed on them God loves them to differing degrees, though still very much.

To start at the fall again, we begin as outlaws, rebels. Then a mans faith is credited to him as rightiousness and he and his decendents become slaves of God. When some of those slaves come to understand what their master is doing they become his friends, since a slave does not understand what his master is doing. This progression, though made possible only by God's grace, is based in natural changes in the intelect and will of individual persons. Of course this progression does bring the individual closer to God and makes him or her more loved by God, though it is still not nearly enough to bridge the chasm between the soul of a fallen man and God.

Then God does something radical. It was not proportunate to our own merits, or proportunate to the level of love God had for us based on the criteria already mentioned or those listed by Jimmy.

God took on a human nature, and with that human nature offered His divine self totally for us. He breathed His Holy Spirit, His Eternal Love, into our very souls and brought us into the divine family ins such a way that we the baptized are indeed sons of God, coheirs of the Kingdom, and in heaven become so identified with God himself (while retaining our own identities) that we can be called gods ourselves.

God loves God with the Infinite Love, and creatures with a finite love, but now he brings some creatures into that Infinite Love Himself. As someone quoted before "so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them." As the Son is in the Father and the Father in Him, so now we are in Christ and Christ in us. Thus we are in the Father and the Father in us, and the Holy Spirit Who is the Love of the Father and the Son is in us and we in Him. When we die in a state of grace and are purified then we enter even more fully into this Divine Life of Love and are as much as possible deified. We are deified not because of our natural human nature or our merits but because we have received as a free gift the Infinite Love of God, which is to say God Himself has given Himself to us and has now recieved us into the Kindom of His Son, our Kingdom.

This is not the sin of Satan. We do not seek to usurp the throne of God but are invited to sit on it with God like a child sitting on his father's lap.

Nor does it deminish the greatness of the saints or of Mary, unless that greatness was being considered apart from their relationship to God, which would be wrong. It remains that Mary alone was preserved from Original Sin. It remains that she perfectly fulfilled her vocation and offered herself to God more totally than anyone else. It remains that she alone, besides Jesus, lived a full human life with no sin. It remains that she was chosen by God to be his human mother. It remains that in his human heart Christ must love her above all other humans. It remains that she is the most exalted member of the Church and has been proclaimed Queen of the Angels and Queen of Heaven.

Yet all these things are gifts from God, and though some are connected to the Infinite Gift, they themselves are finite. She could not be given more of God than we were because we were all given the entirety of God. We are given Him in Baptism, in Confirmation, and we have recieved Him in the Eucharist many times, and in Heaven we recieve Him just as totally but this time with as much direct perception of it on our parts as possible. It appears that the level with wich we love God in return is fixed upon our deaths, and that this level determines to what level we personally experience the Infinite Love of God, but all in heaven and to some degree all those in sanctifying grace are brought into that Love.

So the finite love and blessings given by God to men vary, and for those separated from Him by Original or personal mortal sin that is all the love they have, though they are offered more. For those who accept what is offered God gives the Infinite Love He has for His Son, making them too sons of God, inasmuch as this is accepted by the individual and allowed to transform them.

Some Day

Rather than simply repeat myself, however, I have a question for you. Do you agree that when God loves someone, He gives Himself to the person that He loves?


Brother,
I don't know if you are trying to get me to contradict myself, as I imagine you are going to point out that if God gives Himself, then He being Love, and being Infinite, then therefore He loves a person infinitely.
You have presented a dificulty to me. God gave Himself on the Cross, and He gives Himseld in by the Eucharist.
Now you got me thinking.
And I will respond tommorow.
I am now in a doubt to be quite honest. I don't want to argue just to argue. It is to give glory to God. And you presented a good question, which may change the way I was thinking. May.
I'll look in to it.

Brother Cadfael

Some Day,

You are pretty much right in guessing where I was going. Even if it doesn't change your answer, I'd be curious to know why not.

Puzzled

So, God loves us all, He just doesn't like us all?

Liz

I heard a wonderful homily last year that was sort of on this topic. The priest said he had been asked if God loved the poor more than the rest of us, and this brought to his mind a question from his youth that had troubled him: did his mom love one of her children more than the rest, and if so, WHOM? Him? Or not? He was terrified of the answer, whatever it might be. So the question of his parishioner preyed on him. One day he found himself riding a bus and getting into a conversation with the mother of 13 kids. He decided it was time to face his questions, and asked her if she loved one of her children more than the rest. She looked surprised and said "of course!" Cringing, but needing to know the answer, the priest asked "which one." The woman smiled, and said "whichever one needs me the most that day."

This story doesn't add to the theological discussion going on here, but I think there is a truth in it.

Sister Beatrice

It remains that she was chosen by God to be his human mother. It remains that in his human heart Christ must love her above all other humans. It remains that she is the most exalted member of the Church and has been proclaimed Queen of the Angels and Queen of Heaven.

A woman in the crowd called out, "Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you."

Jesus replied, "Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it."

And, "My mother and brothers are those who hear God's word and put it into practice." (Luke 11:27-28, 8:21)

Brother Cadfael

Sister Beatrice,

Well put. And Mary, of course, heard God's word and and obeyed and put it into practice like no other creature.

Some Day

Brother,
You are correct.
God loves infintely due to that fact that He is Love and He is Infinite.
Ergo, God loves everyone infinitely, and even in sending a soul to Hell it is an infinitely merciful act as an offense to an infinte being, God being the only one, deserves an infinite punishment. Since we are not infinite, then the punishment becomes an eternal punishment.
I agree with you and take it back.
Sorry. Good stuff on your part.

Brother Cadfael

Some Day,

Thanks. The idea that an infinitely good and loving God could send someone to hell for eternity, and that that is actually an act of infinite mercy, is difficult to grasp. True, but difficult to grasp.

Mary Roy

God doesn't make shot glasses, we do. His love isn't earned, or measured out in shots. His Love is a gift. It is the same gift that is given to each of us. It is if anything it is more like life itself - one person is not more alive than another (although it looks that way somethimes)... God's love is the same. It is not a matter of it being some by-product ideology of our egalitarian culture that we have come to think that God loves each of us equally. It is a matter of our understanding of perfect love. Personally I'm not perfect and not capable of perfect love - but just because I measure out my imperfect version of love in shot glasses doesn't mean God does. He gives each of us exactly the same infinate amount of love.
If you don't believe me then try this out... trust me - it will blow your mind... for the next few hours, days, weeks (hell make it a habit) imagine that God in God's eyes you are loved every bit as much as the most holy person you know (like Mother Teresa for example). Imagine Him looking at you and loving you and you being as important in His eyes as every saint that has lived and is living (His perfect love is like life). You should be feeling pretty damn good, confident and very very loved. Just bask in that wonderful feeling for as long as you can every day. You are going to notice that people are going to notice it, they will seem happier, kinder, more tolerant towards you, and you are going to start looking at them differently too... because you wlll start to recognize that He loves them just as much as he loves you... they just might not be like you - using His gift.
One God = One Love

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I just found this site - Thankyou for sharing all the wonderful thoughts


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