DEUS, EGO AMO TEO God, I love thee, I love thee---
Not out of hope of heaven for me
Nor fearing not to love and be
In the everlasting burning.
Thou, thou, my Jesus, after me
Didst reach thine arms out dying,
For my sake sufferedst nails and lance,
Mocked and marred countenance,
Sorrows passing number,
Sweat, and care and cumber,
Yea, and death, and this for me.
And thou couldst see me sinning:
Then I, why should I not love thee,
Jesu, so much in love with me ?
Not for heaven's sake; not to be
Out of hell by loving thee;
Not for any gains I see;
But just the way that thou didst me
I do love and will love thee:
What must I love thee, Lord, for then?
For being my King and God. Amen.
In the back of the four-volume Liturgy of the Hours there are poems. Many of them are excellent, and I have read them often. This has always been one of my favorites, but one night when I was reading it during Eucharistic Adoration, it became more than that.
When I was in school, I was taught that a person in mortal sin could be forgiven at the time of death if he prayed a perfect act of contrition, that is, an act that repented for sins, not because of fear of death, but out of love for God and sorrow for having offended Him. Even when I was quite young, I thought, “That’s ridiculous. Who could do that?”
However, that night in adoration as I was reading this poem, the prayer became mine. I felt it, and I knew that I loved God for His own self in a way that I had never comprehended before. I began to understand how in the presence of that love, fear might not be one’s primary motive for repentance.
In thinking about this it occurs to me that this kind of repentance for our hurtful actions is not at all unusual in our daily lives. If I do something that hurts someone I love, especially my husband or children, I might worry about the consequences of that action, but primarily I feel horrible because I have wounded that person. I’m not sure why this doesn’t translate easily into my relationship with God. Maybe it is because I think of His impassibility, or maybe because I was so fearful of punishment when I was younger.
I don’t, by the way, often experience this poem in the way described above. It was a gift for a certain time, and I treasure the remembrance of it, but it was like the Transfiguration. It would be nice to stay there, but that seems to be impossible.
In the breviary the poem is attributed solely to Hopkins, but while looking for the text online, I found that it is a translation of a prayer attributed sometimes to St. Francis Xavier. One source only credits St. Francis with the first few lines. There seems to have been a fair amount of disagreement about the original source, but I think this is the original in Spanish.
No me mueve, mi Dios, para quererte
el cielo que me tienes prometido,
ni me mueve el infierno tan temido
para dejar por eso de ofenderte.
Tú me mueves, Señor, muéveme el verte
clavado en una cruz y escarnecido,
muéveme ver tu cuerpo tan herido,
muévenme tus afrentas y tu muerte.
Muéveme, en fin, tu amor, y en tal manera,
que aunque no hubiera cielo, yo te amara,
y aunque no hubiera infierno, te temiera.
No me tienes que dar porque te quiera,
pues aunque lo que espero no esperara,
lo mismo que te quiero te quisiera.
You can hear the Latin version of the hymn here.
If you pray the Liturgy of the Hours and have ever wondered, “How the heck do I find the melodies to all these hymns?” that link is an incredible resource.
It can also be heard sung in a translation by Edward Caswell here.
—Janet Cupo is a great-grandmother (and a great grandmother) on temporary (maybe) sabbatical from the workaday world.