The Love of Learning and The Desire for God: A Study of by Jean Leclercq

By Jean Leclercq

The affection of studying and the need for God consists of a sequence of lectures given to younger priests on the Institute of Monastic reports at Sant'Anselmo in Rome through the iciness of 1955-56.

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It is in order to reach God that one must love, desire, and wish for death, which does not eliminate the suffering or fear of death. It must be accepted, consented to, at the hour when God sends it, as the means for being united to Him. Furthermore, if desire for God is ardent, it is also patient. It grows under the trial of time. 31 The importance given to desire confers on St. Gregory's doctrine an extremely dynamic quality. It is concerned with constant progress, for desire, as it becomes more intense, is rewarded by a certain possession of God which increases it still more.

He is also blind because of his sins which constantly turn his eyes back upon himself and on what is least good in him. But he can be raised (sublevari) above himself by the Spirit of God. 48 Man cannot help but desire this, prepare himself for it through detachment, asceticism; in other words, by the "active life,'' through the reading of Scripture and meditation on the mysteries of Christ, the objects par excellence of Christian contemplation. Then, sometimes, under the divine breath, the soul is elevated above its function of animating the body, and the mind beyond its customary modes of knowing.

It is the one which is written in the most graceful and harmonious language, best adapted to interpret the realities of the spiritual life: a Latin already "mystical," and which anticipates that of the great monastic authors of the following centuries. As he did in beginning his grammar, Smaragdus puts at the head of his Commentary a poem which proclaims its purpose. Here again the winning of eternal life is the only consideration. The way for the monks to rise above themselves as far as the "heavenly kingdoms" is the Rule.

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