The Four Degrees of Love: Part 4

For the final part of our four-part series of the “Degrees of Love” study circle we did using the article “Four Degrees of Love (Berard of Clairvaux)” by Soul Shepherding‘s Bill Gaultier, we come to the depth of love which is:

The 4th Degree of Love: Self-Love for God’s Sake (Being United with God’s Love)

(from Gaultier’s article)

Blessed are those who can attain the fourth degree of love. Then they will love themselves only in God! “Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains… O Lord” (Psalm 36:6). For this love is a mountain of great elevation that is fertile and rich. “Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord?” (Psalm 24:3)…

Perhaps an example of the fourth degree is the beloved St Therese

As Wine To Water

To reach this condition is to be godly. For as a drop of water disappears in a barrel of wine, taking the taste and color of wine, so is this state. Or like a bar of iron that is heated and red-hot and becomes like the flame itself, so is this return to divine love. Or just as air becomes so radiant with the light of the sun that it appears to be the very sunlight itself, so it is with the saints whose human love is transmuted by the will of God Himself…

As The Mother of a Newborn…

Our final thoughts on this article about the Four Degrees of Love were taken back to the moment of first being a mother. In that moment, we realized that our lives are no longer our own. We have now embarked on a journey in which even our body is no longer ours. Our first priority is now someone else, someone helpless. How much we glimpse the love of God in this; to look upon a soul that now encompasses a piece of our heart, our very being? It takes tremendous self-abandonment to become a parent. How reckless a love that is limitless, merciful, and hope-filled; a total immersion of self into another. We remarked that–perhaps–this a glimpse of the fourth degree of love.

Photo by Pixabay on

When will my soul, inebriated with divine love, learn to be unconsciously self-forgetful, and simply be a broken vessel (Psalm 31:12)? Then it will hasten to God to depend upon Him and cling only to Him. Then will my spirit be at one with God (1 Corinthians 6:17), saying, “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Psalm 73:26).

We were reminded of the story of the water bowl that was cracked and as it was carried along the path from the well, leaked drops of water along the way, whereby beautiful flowers grew. The fourth degree of love is one in which we abide with God forever as empty vessels and hearts that beat only for the Lord and souls. As with God, nothing is wasted. Not even our deepest wounds and cracks. It is therein that we (if we permit Him in) become filled with the life-giving waters of God’s pure love.

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