Beware of self-love, the rival of the love of God

Seventeenth Spiritual Maxim of Jean Nicholas GrouSeventeenth Spiritual Maxim of Jean Nicholas Grou.

Nothing indicates better the nature of self-love, or should make it more hateful to us, than the idea that it is the rival of the love of God. St. Augustine says: “men are their wills.” We can bestow our whole love on but one only of two objects: God or self. If we put God first and refer all things to Him, then His love will make us good and pleasing in His sight, imparting a supernatural value to all our actions, and perfecting us as we grow in purity and simplicity. If, on the other hand, we refer everything to ourselves, our self-love will upset God's order in us, rendering us most displeasing to Him, vitiating actions otherwise holy, and lowering us in proportion to the sway it exercises in our hearts.

These two loves are entirely opposed to one another. They are not only rivals but enemies, disputing the possession of our heart. No compact or truce is possible between them; they hate one another, attack and persecute each other to the death. The total extinction of self-love, either in this world or in the next, opens heaven to us and ensures our eternal happiness; whilst the extinction of the love of God in our heart, when we pass out of this life, is hell and constitutes our eternal misery.

When a Christian really gives himself to God and to His service, divine love takes possession of his heart, sets up its throne therein and at once proceeds to drive out self-love, the latter resisting with all its strength Attacked and driven from one place to another, it takes refuge wherever it can, retreating from hold to hold until it hides in the innermost recesses of the soul. This is its last refuge, from which it is extremely difficult to dislodge it. There is no device by which it does not endeavour to harm and weaken its assailant, and to lessen, if it cannot prevent, its ultimate victory. It is always dangerous, even after defeat; and often, when we think we have crushed it, it will arise more formidable than ever. ...

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