On the Joy of God's Service
The Disciple. Lord, I will speak once more; I cannot remain silent. I will say to my God, my Lord and my King, who dwells on high, `Oh, how great and manifold are Your joys, kept in secret for those who fear You. (Ps.31:19) But what are You to those who love You? What to those who serve You with their whole heart? The contemplation of Yourself is the ineffable sweetness that You grant to those who love You. And this is the supreme manifestation of Your love, that when I had no being, You created me; when I went astray, You led me back to Your service, and taught me to love You. (Isa.57:15)
O Fount of eternal love, what may I say of You? How can I forget You, who have deigned to remember me, even after I was corrupted and lost? You have showed mercy on Your servant beyond all my hope; You have given grace and friendship beyond all my deserts. What return can I make to You for this grace? (Ps.116:12) For it is not granted to all men to forsake everything, to renounce the world, and to enter the life of religion. And is it a great thing that I should serve You, whom all creation is bound to serve? It should not seem much to me that I should serve you; rather is it great and wonderful to me that You should see fit to receive into Your service one so poor and unworthy, and count him among Your beloved servants.
All that I have is Yours and myself with it. (I Cor. 4:7) Yet it is really You who serve me, rather than I You. Heaven and earth, which You created for the use of man, await Your pleasure, and obey Your laws day by day. And even this is little, for You have appointed the very Angels to minister to men. (Ps 91:11) But what surpasses all these, is that You Yourself stoop to serve man, and have promised him the gift of Yourself.
What return can I make for all these countless favors? If only I could serve You faithfully all the days of my life! If only I could render You worthy service, even for a single day! For You alone are worthy of all service, honor, and eternal praise. (Rev. 4:11) You are truly my God, and I Your poor servant, who am bound to serve with all my powers, nor should I ever weary in Your praise. This is my wish and desire; whatever is lacking in me, I pray you to supply.
It is a great honor and glory to serve you, and to despise all else for Your sake; for great grace will be given to those who have willingly entered your most holy service. They will discover the sweetest consolations of the Holy Spirit, who for Your love have renounced all the delights of the flesh. They will win true freedom of mind, who for Your Name's sake have entered on the narrow way, (Matt. 7:14) and set aside all worldly interests.
O gracious and joyful service of God, in which man is made truly free and holy! O sacred state of religious service, which makes man the equal of Angels, pleasing to God, terrible to devils, and an example to all the faithful! O most lovely and desirable service, in which we receive the reward of the supreme Good, and obtain the joy that abides forever!
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