Ask yourself, why do you love God?
When we say we “love God,” sometimes it isn’t always for the purest motives. We may love God, because he blesses us with many graces, or because he has healed our broken heart.
While basing our love of God on particular events in our lives or the future promise of Heaven isn’t bad in itself, St. Francis Xavier encourages us to love God because of who he is and how he loved us first.
In a similar way that a child loves a parent from the first moments of their life, we too should love God without any strings attached. This type of love can endure any type of hardship or difficulty and will help us when we feel alone and abandoned.
Here is a prayer traditionally attributed to St. Francis Xavier, called his “Hymn of Love,” that illustrates this basic principle, focusing on how we should love God, not because of any future gain or to avoid a future punishment, but because God is God and already showed the depths of his love for us on the cross.
O God, I love Thee, for Thyself
And not that I may heaven gain,
Nor because those who love Thee not,
Must suffer hell’s eternal pain.
Thou, O my Jesus! Thyself didst me
Upon the cross embrace;
For me didst bear the nails and spear
And manifold disgrace;
And griefs and torments numberless,
And sweat of agony;
E’en death itself—and all for one
Who was Thine enemy.
Then why, O blessed Jesus Christ,
Should I not love Thee well,
Not for the sake of winning heaven,
Or of escaping hell;
Not with the hope of gaining aught,
Not seeking a reward;
But as Thyself hast loved me,
O ever-loving Lord?
E’en so I love Thee, and will love,
And in Thy praise will sing,
Solely because Thou art my God,
And my eternal King.