Monday, 7 May 2012

Unruly Wills and Affections

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:

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.
Thomas Traherne, Centuries of Meditations 2:69.

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.

1 comment:

Fiordelisa said...

These remind me of Thomas A Kempis:

"Grant me always to will and desire whatever is most pleasing and acceptable to You. Let your will be mine, and let my will ever follow and be conformed wholly to Your own. Let me ever will and not will in union with Yourself, and be unable to will otherwise than You will or do not will." The Imitation of Christ. III. 15.

I laugh ruefully when I read that passage, because it seems we would have fewer bumps, bruises, and disappointments, less painful discipline from above, if we could just give up and only will what He wills and get our unity with Him over with at once, and one seems to sense the writer's impatient, almost exasperated longing for the same. Yet it is God who seems to love to wrestle with us (Israel: He struggles with God).

"It was such a romp as no one had ever had except in Narnia; and whether it was more like playing with a thunderstorm or playing with a kitten Lucy could never make up her mind.” (CSL, The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe) It goes a bit rough on us sometimes! Another rueful laugh.

A perfect place to insert these peaceful and beautiful photos. I agree that they simply had to be shared. Rich color, composition, and mood.

I have just discovered your concept of Three Thoughts: I love how the Spirit strings together thoughts from different sources faster than one can write them down. You've captured the experience well. I pleasurably anticipate reading some of the others.

As always, thank you.