St. Bernard of Chiaravalle
The basis is love, which is the essential law of the Trinity. It is not, of course, a law imposed by God from the outside. "It should not be considered absurd that I have said, that God lives within a law, I would not say it if it was not a law of charity. What, in fact, maintains the supreme and blessed Trinity ineffable unity, if not charity?.
The four degrees of the love
It is, therefore, a law of the Lord which holds the Trinity in unity and encloses it in a bond of peace. But do not believe I conceive charity as a quality, as some accident. I conceive it as the very substance of God, which is not a doctrine neither new nor unusual, as John says, "God is love." Therefore charity can be rightly called God. " Without the love of God there would not be God!
God has shown his love in the highest degree through the Incarnation of the Word. God knew well that the creatures are flesh, and that they are only capable of carnal love, that they would only give momentum to a saving love of their flesh. He knew the man's heart, he knew, therefore, what means were able to shake the man's feelings. Therefore, seeking to regain the noble creature, God said: If I force them against their will, I will only get a donkey and not a man. He will not come back either freely or spontaneously, and will not offer a sacrifice with all his heart. And I'm supposed to give my kingdom to asses? Does God care for oxen? I'll try then - God continued - to get him back to me through fear. Maybe he will be able to be converted and live. And God threatened men with punishment more terrible than you can imagine: eternal darkness, immortal worms and unquenchable fire. But even so the man did not return to God. Then God said, man is not only a scared being he is also a greedy being : I will promise him what he wants most.
Men crave gold and silver and the like, but most of all they crave to live. About this there is no doubt! It is quite clear! And God said: If men desire this earthly life, miserable, difficult and precarious, how much more will they want my life, quiet, eternal and blissful. And God promised man eternal life and what eyes have never seen, what ears have never heard, what the human heart has never dreamed of. But God saw that all this came to nothing. And God said: I just have one last thing. Man has not only fear and desire, but also love. And nothing else is stronger than love to lure him. For this reason God came in the flesh and manifested itself so lovable, a kind love that no one can posses. And he gave his life for us. God, therefore, chose the path of incarnation not because his work could not be accomplished in any other way, his project for humans, but because it was necessary to let the carnal man touch everything that can hold love, the heart of a God who is love.
In this way, man has become debtor of love to God." This is the root and the compendium of Christian spirituality, in a word, man must love God! You, love is inherent in the very nature of the human heart and this is the gift of God "Charity creates charity, the substantial creates the accidental. This is the eternal law, which creates and governs the universe. Nothing is left without law, as itself, it is the law".
To what extent and why man must love God? The answer is that of Augustine: "So you want to hear from me the reason and the way in which we must love God? I say unto you, The reason for loving God is God Himself, the measure is to love without measure."
Christ is everything: without him everything is desert and death: "It is absolutely worthy of death, he who, O Lord Jesus, refuses to live for you, indeed, he is already dead. A man who has no taste for thee is foolish, he is nothing and nothing is to be considered a person who does not care to live only for you. " In short, "Jesus is honey in the mouth, sweet melody to the ear, joy in the heart.
In concrete terms, the living love is identified with doing always and in everything the will of God "like a droplet of water within a large amount of wine seems to lose its entire nature and takes on the flavor and color of the wine, like iron, put on the fire and made glowing, stripped of its original shape to become completely like fire, like the air traveling from the sun takes on the its brightness, so that not only it seems lit, but looks the same, so in the saints every human feeling, to a certain extent ineffable, must fade and transition to the will of God.".
But to take the way of love, only thing is a prerequisite, to convert, to abandon one's own will, through humility. Conversion is, therefore, to learn the difficult art of humility and humility is simply to have an accurate assessment of one's self. "Humility is the virtue by which man is believed despicable because of a very exact knowledge of himself. And that is: we are great, because" no creature is closer to God than the one made in the image of God. "But Also we are small due to the presence of personal sin. "Pride is the desire of being great. Conversion, therefore, is to resume, to regain, laboriously, what is native in the human nature: humility. Man is, by nature, humble! Pride, however, is a product invented by the devil, and exported to humans. We must, in other words, look into the depth of our hearts, get, with hard work and diligence, an accurate assessment of ourselves. In fact, pride and arrogance, the great enemies of the Christian life, are born from ignorance of ourselves. The more you ignore yourself, the more you run into the danger of falling into pride.
From humility is born charity toward others. Our misery before God makes us take our rightful place even in front of others. Through the exact knowledge of ourselves we come to the knowledge of the weakness of others. We, through our own weakness and frailty, reflect, almost like in a mirror, that of our brothers: The Christian, "starting from his own misery, will meditate on that of all the others. God leaves us to our own faults, because we understand those of others. Indeed we and others are made of the same stuff. Hence a single conclusion is possible: as I have compassion for my personal miseries and I do not condemn myself, so I will never take a strict attitude towards the brothers who sin, I'll be open to infinite forgiveness. You are a seriously ill and will not be able not to have compassion for your sick brother who is like you. Indeed, "only a sick person can understand and have compassion for another patient. "Christians "from their own sufferings learn to sympathize with those of others".
In this context, we understand the need of prayer, as an expression of love. For this we should always pray, always pray to God: "All the time not spent thinking of God, you must consider it as lost time." We must not get in prayer once or twice, but frequently and assiduously by submitting to God your wishes and, at the appropriate time, even out loud".
Prayer is an encounter with the Lord while you're so small. "And you have been deprived of grace, you can be sure that the reason was your pride, even if you do not see it, even if you do not realize it.
It is only to seek God for himself. "You do not pray correctly if you are looking for something else besides Christ, or if you are looking for Christ, but do not look for for himself".
In other words, fervent. The best time for prayer is the night. "He who wants to pray should choose the suitable time and place. And it is more convenient and helpful to pray when you are at rest, especially during the night, then prayer is born freer and purer. Arise, then during the night, the beginning of thy vigils, and pour out your heart like water before the Lord thy God: How secret prayer is if done at night, and it is only known to God and the holy angel that will to present it on the altar of Heaven ... How serene and quiet it is, without being disturbed by noises! Finally, how pure and sincere it is, without being smeared by the dust of the earthly concerns".
Prayer must be accompanied by fasting, but not only external. We have no illusions! "The devil is not afraid of those who fast only on the outside." Fasting is not only punitive or to provide for the needs of the hungry. Mainly aims to support the prayer "Prayer gets strength from fasting. Fasting strengthens prayer, as it sanctifies fasting and submit it to God." Fasting and prayer are "like brothers, each of whom brings help and comfort to the other".