(This is Neil.) In his current “Life in Christ” column, Fr John Breck continues his series of translations from the late Fr Lev Gillet’s Amour Sans Limites, published in 1971 as the work of “A Monk of the Eastern Church.” I’ve excerpted from the first six parts of this series; you can find links to these excerpts here and here.
Once again, you can find biographical information about Gillet in an article in Jacob’s Well by Fr Michael Plekon that can be found here. The statement of Metropolitan Evlogy of Paris, Gillet’s own bishop, can surely also be applied to Fr Lev Gillet:
Men like St. Seraphim of Sarov and St. Francis of Assisi and many others have in their lives accomplished the union of the churches. Are they not citizens of the same holy and universal Church? At the level of their spiritual life they have gone beyond the walls which divide us, but which, in the fine expression of Metropolitan Platon of Kiev, do not reach up to heaven.
Here, then, is another excerpt from Amour Sans Limites. Fr Lev Gillet is imagining God addressing us:
“What does ‘love’ mean, when it is God who loves, God who Himself is Love? Every form of love is a movement from one being towards another with the desire to unite with the other. The directions, forms and varieties of this movement are innumerable. They span the range from less than human to more than human. Yet there is always a tendency toward union, toward a desire for union, whether possessive or sacrificial.
“My Love for persons is a movement of myself toward them, not only to be known by them or to be in some way imitated by them. That movement allows me to unite myself to them, to give myself to them.
“My Love, Love in its incorruptible essence, Love without limits, is never entirely absent. God is never absent. At times such Love seems barely to exist, yes. It can be undetectable, covered by hatred, by all sorts of perversions, or by a layer of instinctive brutality. Yet I still work through it. No matter how deformed love may be, I can make it rise to the level of a conscious and total gift. Love has a great many different aspects, it’s true. But there is only one Love.
“You are loved. Isn’t there a place for the most ‘insignificant’ person in the flame of the Burning Bush? A soul, a person whom I love, though, is not insignificant. You are loved. It is you whom I love. This is no universal affirmation; I’m not speaking here about groups of people. I am speaking about you.
“Certainly you are all, collectively, my ‘beloved,’ whom I have created by my Love. You are members of a single body, which is my own Body. But now, my child, I am speaking to a single person: to you, and to no one else. I am calling you by a name I have given to no one else.
“Yes, I am calling you by a secret name, one reserved for you from all eternity. It is a different name from the one others use to address you. It is the name written on a white stone, a name no one knows, except (if they are attentive to the gift) the person who receives it.
“In the heart of God there is given to each of you the possibility to discover and make apparent to others a different facet of the unique Diamond. You yourself are that facet. Whatever life may have handed you, you are a unique aspect, a particular aspect, of the link that joins each person to divine Love. You are a ray of Love, shining forth from Love, even if at times that ray may seem broken….”