Eugene Stockton...

A reflection by Eugene Stockton on the Love of God

In recent days on the forum I've raised the question of what, precisely, do we mean when we talk about the mercy and compassion of God [SEE: "Is 'God' simply one BIG Myth or Metaphor?" LINK]. To what I wrote there I might have added the phrase "the Love of God". This reflection on what we mean by "the Love of God" arose out of a discussion Fr Eugene Stockton has been having in recent weeks with a mutual friend here in the Blue Mountains. When we speak of "the Love of God" what, precisely, do we mean; or is an expression like this incapable of being expressed too precisely? What are your thoughts and beliefs on this subject? Tell us what you believe and think, not what you think someone like Pope Francis or Fr Eugene might like to hear. How do you experience "the Love of God"? ...Brian Coyne, Editor

The Love of God

by Fr Eugene Stockton

If ever there was a word so abused, so banalised and sentimentalised as to be now meaningless, that word is love. Contemplating its supreme expression on the part of God, there is all the more need for careful analysis and specification. In ordinary usage we can distinguish the love of charity, Greek agape, which is the love we might have for someone in need, wishing them well (benevolentia) and supplying their need (a unilateral relationship), and eros, the love which goes out to the beloved, drawing them into union with oneself (a reciprocal relationship). [To be dismissed is a false love which is focused on one's ego, as a vicious vortex, imploding in a black hole]. The process of exocentrism, one's engagement with the other, is an outward movement which can be described in three stages as outlined in The Deep Within, pp.28-29.

The Deep Within by Eugene Stockton

Eugene's book, The Deep Within, is available via our shop HERE.

Divine love is simpler, partaking of both eros and agape. It is the love coursing between the three Divine Persons, as each empties self to the other (kenosis) and as the triune God spills out into the finitude of space and time, to the whole of creation. "God is love" is the startling assertion in St. John's letter [1 Jn.4:8].

One might quibble at that statement, because we normally distinguish between the subject (the one who loves) and the act (of love). But theology tells us that God is simple, without any more distinction, so that in God subject and act are one. Like a waterfall, God is pouring out of Self to the beloved, drawing the beloved into union with Godself.

The Deep Within showed how our prime archetypes in deep consciousness, deriving from the earliest experiences of infancy, are Mother and Father, and how they serve as templates to characterise later experiences of adulthood (pp.53-55). Primal people often applied them to the most awesome entities of their universe, venerating the Sun as All-Father and the earth as receptive, nurturing Mother. While we now recognise Sun and Earth as creatures of God, yet they supply powerful images of the numinous in our cosmos.

Science has shown that the sun is a powerhouse of nuclear reaction, converting its matter into energy, which is radiating out into space as sunlight. That sunlight, shining on the earth, is the source of all its heat, light and power. All life on the earth comes from the sunlight, giving rise to the greenery which lies at the base of the food chain for all living creatures, which in turn reach out to the sun (e.g. green tips and flowers). Even the heat and light which we produce from fossil fuels are drawing on the stores of ancient sun power. That sunlight is all pervasive, like an atmosphere "in whom we live and move and have our being". It is so dependable that we tend to take it for granted, until a crisis blocks it out even to a slight degree. We do well to reflect at times that all that sunlight, and all the benefits it bestows on us, is poured out on us at the expenditure of the sun's own mass converted to energy.

So the sun is a powerful analogy of the Godhead pouring Godself out in love on creation, offering light and warmth and life within the nurturing encompass of Mother Earth (eg. Church, society, family).

The love of God is in every smile, kindly act, noble aspiration. It shines to us through all that is Good, True and Beautiful, drawing us up to the One. Unlike the sunlight the love of God is not automatic, for God is mindful of each one of us as the Lover is mindful of the Beloved. But like the sunlight the love of God is all about us as a spiritual atmosphere, entering into every spiritual motion and channeling through us to our neighbour.

Fickle creatures that we are, we tend to take the all-pervasive love of God for granted. Hence, the importance for society of the vocation of the contemplative, being ever alert to the miracle of divine love. A fitting image of the contemplative (one with an Australian flavour) is the sunbaker, stretched out on the beach, lying still and quiet for long periods, with skin bared to the sun, soaking up every ray of sunlight. Jesus invites us: "Rest in my love" [Jn.15:9].

With this cosmic imagery in mind one might paraphrase (from the original Aramaic) the beginning of the Lords' Prayer:

In the heaven's above
all-holy is your name
come to reign in us
May your longing love which fills the heavens
now break out here on earth.

What follows is a recording of the Aramaic Lord's Prayer lifted from a commentary my daughter, Phoebe Coyne, wrote for catholica back in December 2006 [LINK]

The Aramaic Lord's Prayer

Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:2-4
Chant composed in the ancient Dorian mode by Christopher Moroney.
Improvised solo by Covita Moroney

Aramaic is a Middle Eastern language that was the native tongue of Jesus of Nazareth, and common to the Israel/Palestine region during the first century c.e. This musical setting of the prayer of Jesus — sometimes called the Lord's Prayer — includes traditional Middle Eastern percussion, rhythms, and improvisational modal chanting. All the Semitic 1anguages — including Hebrew, Aramaic, and Arabic — use a root system which allows one word to hold multiple meanings. Thus, a tradition of translation arose in the Middle East that led to each word of a prophet being considered on many different levels of meaning.

Abwoon (Father-Mother of the Cosmos)

Abwoon d'bvashmayo, nethqadash shmok. Te-the malkutokh. Nehwé tseby o-nokh, aykano d'bvash'mayo of -ba'r'o. Habv lan lahma d'sunqonan yow-mano, Washboqlan hawbén w'kh-t'hén, aykano dof h'nan shba-qn l'hayobén. W'lo tahlan l'nesyun'eh, elo patson men bisho. Metol d'dilok hi malkutokh, w'haylo, w'teshbuh-to lo'alam 'o-l'min. Amén.


Alternative translation of Aramaic

  Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name   O Birther! Father-Mother of the Cosmos, focus your light within us.  
  Thy Kingdom come   Create your reign of unity now  
  Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven   Your one desire then acts with ours, as in all light, so in all forms  
  Give us this day our daily bread   Grant what we need each day in bread and insight  
  Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us   Loose the cords of mistakes binding us, as we release the strands we hold of others' guilt  
  Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil   Don't let surface things delude us, but free us from what holds us back  
  For the Kingdom, the power and the glory are yours now and forever. Amen   From You is born all ruling will, the power and the life to do, the song that beautifies all, from age to age it renews. Truly-power to these statements-may they be the ground from which all our actions grow. Amen  
  (Translation and commentary from Aramaic Peshitta by Neil Douglas-Klotz, from "Desert Wisdom"- ©1995 Reprinted with permission, all rights reserved,Abwoon Study Circle,
Audio track taken from

Eugene Stockton, submitted to catholica, 05 Sep 2016
This article was originally published on catholica at

"Like the sunlight the love of God is all about us as a spiritual atmosphere, entering into every spiritual motion and channeling through us to our neighbour." ...Eugene Stockton

What are your thoughts on this commentary?
You follow the discussion this commentary generated on the catholica forum HERE.

©2016Eugene Stockton

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The Deep Within by Eugene Stockton

"In barely more than a hundred pages, Eugene Stockton – priest, writer, archaeologist, anthropologist, contemplative – launches his readers into 'the deep within'. His range of reference is astonishing, explained only by the interests that have filled his fifty years of thinking and writing, and then further back to his childhood in the bush of the Central Blue Mountains. From the depths of his own awareness, he invites us all into the depths of "the Kingdom of God within you', of the real self of connections and relationships, too often neglected and ignored by the restless ego of routine life. Guiding the descent into the depths of the true self are a wide variety of religious, philosophical and psychological markers, 'since it is difficult to describe on the surface what is shared in depth'. One constant resource and guide is the Aboriginal experience and Eugene Stockton's long familiarity with the spirituality of the original Australians. In short, there is something both homegrown Australian and genuinely universal about this book. The depths into which this author calls us will be a wondrous refreshment for all his readers." ...Professor Anthony Kelly, Australian Catholic University
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