Incomparably Better

From On the Divine Commandments (1375)

Whenever we introduce any creature that we regard as the equal of or superior to God into our heart’s chamber, we commit serious spiritual adultery by introducing a most vile paramour in the place of the most excellent spouse, now abandoned. Hence Isaiah 57: “You have discovered yourself near me and have received an adulterer.”

The bond of this spiritual marriage is based sufficiently in the love of God. God does not require worldly goods of you nor bodily strength nor a puffed up knowledge. He requires only to love the bride, and this is enough. Concord alone makes this marriage, so that it is only dissolved by hatred of God. So neither poverty, nor worldly obscurity, nor infamy, nor weakness, nor absence of worldly knowledge may impede.

One can have, and should have, this bond. Nothing is more simple in the power of man than the love of God, nothing more delightful than this, nor is anything so steadfast. So you have, everywhere and always, an object for your love…

If we grasp for honors due God, or devote ourselves to some other creature, or conspire to do one or the other, do we love God? Chiefly it is the doctors and priests who have the responsibility of teaching the law of God to the people, who are guilty of this. In the final chapter of John, Christ charges Peter under a triple interrogation, understood as conditional, that if he loves Christ, he should feed his sheep (John 21). How do those of us with this charge love God but neglect the sheep?…

God is incomparably better, more venerable, and more lovable than any other creature. So handing over to a creature the worship due to God is an incomparably more serious sin than taking away the reverence due a creature. All happiness or created beauty is only a vestige or a shadow of the beatitude of the uncreated…

However many properties of the heart there may be, we can learn to love God from them and to discern whether we love him with the whole of it. To this, it is suitable that lances balanced upon a heart appear in lessons on the cross… We should regard the opened heart of the crucified Christ on the altar and conform ourselves to it.

John Wycliffe (ca. 1331-1384) was an English priest and theologian, who began an influential translation of the Bible into English. He was a strong critic of aspects of Catholic doctrine and piety, and was an important influence on the Hussite Movement in Bohemia and the later English Reformation. He is commemorated on the liturgical calendar of some Anglican churches on October 30.



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