Let us not amuse ourselves to seek or to love GOD for any sensible favors (however elevated) which He has or may do us. (-Br. Lawrence)
When I read this, I couldn't help but thinking of a writing from Bernard of Clairvaux. Now, I must admit that it is not exactly what Br. Lawrence is talking about, but hey this is my blog post and my stream of consciousness, so I'm going to go in that direction anyway.
Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153) was a member of the Cistercian Order of monks in France. He was responsible for many of the reforms that allowed the Cistercians to survive throughout the years. Born to French nobility, Bernard entered the monastic life following his mother's death, at the age of 23. Given the title "The Doctor of the Church," he was known for his eloquence and his writings still remain very influential today.
One such writing is a treatise entitled, "On Love." In this, Bernard lays out what he calls "four degrees of love" that correspond pretty closely with Br. Lawrence. They are as follows:
1. When man loves himself for his own sake
2. When man loves God for his (man's) own good
3. When man loves God for God's own sake
4. When man loves himself for the sake of God
Bernard felt that this last stage of life could not be reached prior to the resurrection. Trapped within our mortal bodies, we could not achieve a pure love for self for the sake of God. Therefore, the highest level we could achieve on this earth is to love God for God's sake. In other words, we should not love only ourselves (the selfishness of the first degree), or for the blessings God gives us (the second degree), but we love God for God. We desire God's will alone. We desire nothing more than to know him. We become completely enraptured just by God's existence. We devote our whole lives to seeking this God and arrange our lives so that nothing else gets in the way of this pursuit.
This is what I want for my life, but I'm not there yet. I find myself too often in the selfishness of the first and second degrees. Oh god, purify my love for you, that I may desire you and you alone. If I were never to receive another blessing, another answered prayer, another gift, another comfort or consolation, you would still be worthy of my praise. Make my life a prayer. Amen.