Greatness

The infinite distance between body and mind is a symbol of the infinitely more infinite distance between mind and charity; for charity is supernatural.
All the glory of greatness has no luster for people who are in search of understanding.
The greatness of clever men is invisible to kings, to the rich, to chiefs, and to all the worldly great.
The greatness of wisdom, which is nothing if not of God, is invisible to the carnal-minded and to the clever.  These are three orders differing in kind.
Great geniuses have their power, their glory, their greatness, their victory, their luster, and have no need of worldly greatness with which they are not in keeping. They are seen, not by the eye, but by the mind; this is sufficient.
The saints have their power, their glory, their victory, their lustre, and need no worldly or intellectual greatness with which they have no affinity; for these neither add anything to them, nor take away anything from them. They are seen of God and the angels, and not of the body, nor of the curious mind. God is enough for them.
Archimedes, apart from his rank, would have the same veneration. He fought no battles for the eyes to feast upon; but he has given his discoveries to all men. Oh! How brilliant he was to the mind!
Jesus Christ, without riches, and without any external exhibition of knowledge, is in His own order of holiness. He did not invent; He did not reign. But He was humble, patient, holy, holy to God, terrible to devils, without any sin. Oh! In what great pomp, and in what wonderful splendor, he is come to the eyes of the heart, which perceive wisdom!
It would have been useless for Archimedes to have acted the prince in his books on geometry, although he was a prince. It would have been useless for our Lord Jesus Christ to come like a king, in order to shine forth in his kingdom of holiness. But He came there appropriately in the glory of His own order.
… But there are some who can only admire worldly greatness, as though there were no intellectual greatness, and others who only admire intellectual greatness, as though there were not infinitely higher things in wisdom.
All  bodies, the firmament, the stars, the earth and its kingdoms, are not equal to the lowest mind; for mind knows all these and itself; and these bodies nothing.
All bodies together, and all minds together, and all their products, are not equal to the last feeling of charity. This is of an order infinitely more exalted.

   -Pascal, Penses #793

God is Love?

“St. John’s saying that God is love has long been balanced in my mind against the remark of M. Dennis de Rougemont that “love ceases to be a demon only when he ceases to be a God”; which of course can be restated in the form “begins to be a demon the moment he begins to be a god.” This balance seems to me to be an indispensable safeguard. If we ignore it, the truth that ‘God is love’ may slyly come to mean for us the converse, that love is God. I suppose that everyone who has thought about the matter will see what Mr. De Rougemont meant.

Every human love has a tendency to claim for itself divine authority. Its voice tends to sound as if it were the will of God himself. It tells us not to count the cost, it demands of us a total commitment, it attempts to override all other claims and insinuates that any action which is sincerely done “for love’s sake” is thereby lawful and meritorious. ” – C. S. Lewis, The Four Loves

This one shed a lot of light on issues that had been presented to me in the past as being “God’s will” because they were “loving” and therefore “obviously of God” but which I had questioned. And you were right of course, Shawn: what we generally mean when we say the word ‘love’ is usually either ‘storge’, ‘phileo’ or ‘eros’, not ‘Agape’ (the type of love which is  an unconditional and unselfish caring for another). It seems to me that Mr. Rougemont’s point can be applied to other elements associated with God as well, such as truth, and beauty to name a few.

It appears that while God is love, truth, and beauty (among others); and these things are good and of God, these things in and of themselves are not big enough to be gods in their own right and should not be taken as such. Take for instance truth; sometimes it is the right thing to tell the truth as opposed to not, and other times it is the right thing to omit the truth because it would not truly be helpful in the given situation and perhaps cause more damage than good. These godly attributes must all in the end be subject to God (who is the greater, because He alone can encompass these attributes of Himself and not vice-versa), who uses and perfectly combines all of these elements to bring about perfection in every situation.

Agape – Unconditional Love
Charity (agapē, ἀγάπη) is the love that brings forth caring regardless of circumstance. Lewis recognizes this as the greatest of loves, and sees it as a specifically Christian virtue. (- The Four Loves, Wikipedia)

On First and Second Things

I came to suspect I was perceiving a universal law. The woman who makes a dog the center of her life loses, in the end, not only her human usefulness and dignity but even the proper pleasure of dog-keeping.
The man who makes alcohol his chief good loses not only his job but his palate and all power of enjoying the earlier (and only pleasurable) levels of intoxication.
It is a glorious thing to feel for a moment or two that the whole meaning of the universe is summed up in one woman—glorious so long as other duties and pleasures keep tearing you away from her. But clear the decks and so arrange your life (it is sometimes feasible) that you will have nothing to do but contemplate her, and what happens?
Of course this law has been discovered before, but it will stand re-discovery. It may be stated as follows: every preference of a small good to a great, or partial good to a total good, involves the loss of the small or partial good for which the sacrifice is made.

. . . You can’t get second things by putting them first. You get second things only by putting first things first. From which it would follow that the question “What things are first?” is of concern not only to philosophers but to everyone. What is the first thing? The only reply I can offer here is that if we do not know, then the first and only true practical thing is to set about finding out.

—C.S. Lewis, “First and Second Things,” in God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics

“Put first things first and we get second things thrown in: put second things first and we lose both first and second things. We never get, say, even the sensual pleasure of food at its best when we are being greedy.” —C.S. Lewis

When I read this, it made a lot of sense to me and helped me to prioritize things better. (Always brings to mind Matthew 6:33.) I have only put in the ‘meat’ of the matter, but the whole essay is definitely worth reading (as is almost anything C.S. Lewis) and gives a much fuller picture of the idea.