In his Confessions, written between AD 397 and 398, Augustine writes:
But what do I love when I love my God? . . .
Not material beauty or beauty of a temporal order.
not the brilliance of earthly light;
not the sweet melody of harmony and song;
not the fragrance of flowers, perfumes, and spices;
not manna or honey;
not limbs such as the body delights to embrace.
It is not these that I love when I love my God.
And yet, when I love him, it is true that I love a light of a certain kind, a voice, a perfume, a food, an embrace;
but they are of the kind that I love in my inner self,
when my soul is bathed in light that is not bound by space;
when it listens to sound that never dies away;
when it breathes fragrance that is not borne away on the wind;
when it tastes food that is never consumed by the eating;
when it clings to an embrace from which it is not severed by fulfillment of desire.
This is what I love when I love my God.
—Augustine, Confessions, trans. R.S. Pine-Coffin, X.6.
Here is Sheed’s translation of the same passage:
But what is it that I love when I love You? Not the beauty of any bodily thing, nor the order of seasons, not the brightness of light that rejoices the eye, nor the sweet melodies of all songs, nor the sweet fragrance of flowers and ointments and spices: not manna nor honey, not the limbs that carnal love embraces. None of these things do I love in loving my God.Yet in a sense I do love light and melody and fragrance and food and embrace when I love my God–the light and the voice and the fragrance and the food and embrace in the soul, when that light shines upon my soul which no place can contain, that voice sounds which no time can take from me, I breathe that fragrance which no wind scatters, I eat the food which is not lessened by eating, and I lie in the embrace which satiety never comes to sunder. This it is that I love, when I love my God.