The Freedom of Love – Two Selections


“God created man like an animal who has received the order to become God,” says a deep saying of St. Basil, reported by St. Gregory of Nazianzus. To execute this order, one must be able to refuse it. God becomes powerless before human freedom; He cannot violate it since it flows from His own omnipotence. Certainly man was created by the will of God alone; be he cannot be deified by it alone. A single will for creation, but two for deification. A single will to raise up the image, but two to make the image into a likeness. The love of God for man is so great that it cannot constrain; for there is no love without respect. Divine will always will submit itself to gropings, to detours, even to revolts of human will to bring it to a free consent: of such is divine providence, and the classical image of the pedagogue must seem feeble indeed to anyone who has felt God as a beggar of love waiting at the soul’s door without ever daring to force it.

From Vladimir Lossky’s essay “The Creation”

Such a mystery – that God should stand at the door and knock – like a beggar of love – never daring to force it.

The Agony

Philosophers have measur’d mountains,
Fathom’d the depths of the seas, of states, and kings,
Walk’d with a staff to heav’n, and traced fountains:
But there are two vast, spacious things,
The which to measure it doth more behove:
Yet few there are that sound them; Sin and Love.

Who would know Sin, let him repair
Unto mount Olivet; there shall he see
A man so wrung with pains, that all his hair,
His skin, his garments bloody be.
Sin is that press and vice, which forceth pain
To hunt his cruel food through ev’ry vein.

Who knows not Love, let him assay
And taste that juice, which on the cross a pike
Did set again abroach, then let him say
If ever he did taste the like.
Love is that liquor sweet and most divine,
Which my God feels as blood; but I, as wine.

George Herbert (1593-1633)

About Fr. Stephen Freeman

Fr. Stephen is a retired Archpriest of the Orthodox Church in America, Pastor Emeritus of St. Anne Orthodox Church in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. He is also author of Everywhere Present: Christianity in a One-Storey Universe, and Face to Face: Knowing God Beyond Our Shame, as well as the Glory to God podcast series on Ancient Faith Radio.


7 responses to “The Freedom of Love – Two Selections”

  1. ConfesSword Avatar

    Father, bless.

    Who was George Herbert?

  2. fatherstephen Avatar

    Anglican Priest and Poet – an amazing poet.

  3. Natalia Avatar

    THANK YOU, Father!
    I’m Russian and don’t have a good command of English, but I admire George Herbert’s poetry more than I can say, the poems of this Anglican Priest are very dear to my Russian Orthodox heart… I’m happy to see that George Herbert is appreciated on my favorite blog!

  4. fatherstephen Avatar

    For Christian poets in English, there is no one I like better.

  5. Moses Avatar

    Wow who would have thought it was an Anglican saying those Orthodox words in poetry!

  6. fatherstephen Avatar

    Late 16th and early 17th century, there would have been many fine Anglicans – relatively Orthodox in their theology.

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