About this time every year I post this prayer, the Collect for the Fourth Sunday after Easter in the Book of Common Prayer:
O almighty God, who alone canst order the unruly wills and affections of sinful men; Grant unto thy people, that they may love the thing which thou commandest, and desire that which thou dost promise; that so, among the sundry and manifold changes of the world, our hearts may surely there be fixed, where true joys are to be found; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Hearing it yesterday at College Evensong, it made me think of this, a prayer of St Anselm:
Illuminatio mea, tu vides conscientiam meam,
quia "Domine, ante te omne desiderium meum";
et tu donas si quid bene vult anima mea.
Si bonum est, domine, quod inspiras,
immo quia bonum est, ut te velim amare,
da quod me facis velle,
da ut quantum iubes tantum te merear amare.
Laudes et gratias tibi ago pro desiderio quod inspirasti;
laudes et preces offero,
ne sit mihi donum tuum infructuosum,
quod tua sponte dedisti.
Perfice quod incepisti,
dona quod me benigne praeveniendo immeritum desiderare fecisti.
My light, you see my conscience,
because, "Lord, before you is all my desire,"
and if my soul wills any good, you gave it me.
Lord, if what you inspire is good,
or rather because it is good, that I should want to love you,
give me what you have made me want:
grant that I may attain to love you as much as you command.
I praise and thank you for the desire that you have inspired;
and I offer you praise and thanks
lest your gift to me be unfruitful,
which you have given me of your own accord.
Perfect what you have begun,
and grant me what you have made me long for,
not according to my deserts but out of your kindness that came first to me.
And that made me think of this:
Thomas Traherne, Centuries of Meditations 2:69.
We are all prone to love; but the art lies in managing our love: to make it truly amiable and proportionable. To love for God's sake, and to this end, that we may be well-pleasing unto Him: to love with a design to imitate Him, and to satisfy the principles of intelligent nature, and to become honorable, is to love in a Blessed and Holy manner.
This is not an art I've mastered; has anyone?
The pictures are unrelated; I took them last week, like them, and can't imagine another occasion on which I might post them.