"Though the path is plain and smooth for people of good will, those who walk it will not travel far, and will do so only with difficulty if they do not have good feet, courage, and tenacity of spirit. "

St John of the Cross, OCD - Doctor of the Church

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"O Lord, my God, who will seek you with simple and pure love, and not find that you are all one can desire, for you show yourself first and go out to meet those who seek you? "

St John of the Cross, OCD - Doctor of the Church

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"Obedience is a short cut to perfection."

St Philip Neri

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Blessed John of Rusybroeck   (1293-1381)

 

THE ADORNMENT OF THE SPIRITUAL MARRIAGE (cont)

 

by Blessed John of Rusybroeck

 

THE FIRST BOOK

23. Of Three Enemies to be overcome by Righteousness


Now, if we wish to possess these virtues, and to cast out their opposites, we must possess righteousness, and we must practise and preserve it in purity of heart unto death; for we have three powerful adversaries, who tempt us and make war on us at all times, in all places, and in many ways. If we make peace with one of these three, and become subject to him, we are vanquished; for the three of them agree together in all iniquity.

These three adversaries are the devil, the world and our own flesh; and this last is the nearest to us and often the worst and most harmful of all three to us; for our fleshly lusts are the weapons with which our enemies make war on us. Idleness and indifference to virtue and the glory of God, these are the causes and the occasions of the struggle. But the weakness of our nature, our carelessness and ignorance of truth, these are the swords with which our enemies often wound, and sometimes conquer us.

And for this reason we should build up a wall and make a separation within ourselves. And the lower part of ourselves, which is beastly and contrary to the virtues, and which wills our separation from God, we should hate and persecute, and we should torment it by means of penances and austerity of life; so that it be always repressed, and subject to reason, that thereby righteousness and purity of heart may always have the upper hand in all the works of virtue. And all the suffering, grief, and persecution, which God sends us through these enemies of virtue, we should gladly bear for the glory of God, and for the honour of the virtues, and that we may obtain and possess righteousness in purity of heart; for Christ says: Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness sake: for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. For a righteousness which is maintained in suffering and in virtuous deeds is like the penny which is counted as heavy as the kingdom of God; and with it is bought eternal life.

And with these virtues a man goes out towards God, towards himself, and towards his neighbour, in good customs, in virtues, and in righteousness.
 

24. Of the Kingdom of the Soul


Whosoever wishes to obtain and to keep these virtues should adorn and possess and rule his soul like a kingdom. Free-will is the king of the soul. It is free by nature and still more free by grace. It shall be crowned with a crown that is called charity. The crown and the kingdom shall be received from the Emperor, Who is Lord and Master and King of kings; and the kingdom should be possessed, ruled, and maintained in His name. This king, free-will, should dwell in the chief city of the kingdom; namely, in the desirous power of the soul. And he should be clad and adorned with a garment of two parts.

The right side of his garment should be a virtue called strength, that therewith he may be strong and mighty to overcome all hindrances, and to ascend up to heaven, into the palace of the most high Emperor, and to bow down his crowned head before the most high King, with love, and with self-surrendered desire. This is the proper work of charity: through it the crown is received, through it the crown is adorned, through it the kingdom is maintained and possessed in eternity. The left side of the garment should be a cardinal virtue called moral force. Through it, free-will, the king, shall quell all immorality, and fulfil all virtues, and shall possess his kingdom in power, even unto death.

This king should also choose councillors in his kingdom: the wisest in the country. These should be two divine virtues: knowledge and discretion, enlightened by the light of Divine grace. They should dwell near the king, in a palace called the rational power of the soul, and they should be clad and adorned with a moral virtue called temperance, so that the king may always do or leave undone according to their counsels. By means of knowledge our conscience shall be cleansed of all its failings and adorned with all virtues; and by help of discretion we shall give and take, do and leave undone, be silent and speak, fast and eat, listen and reply, and act in all things according to knowledge and discretion, clad in the moral virtue called temperance or sobriety.

This king, free-will, should also appoint in his kingdom a judge: that is, righteousness. This is a divine virtue when it springs from love, and it is one of the highest of moral virtues. This judge should dwell in the heart, in the midst of the kingdom, in the irascible power. And he should be adorned with a moral virtue called prudence; for righteousness cannot be perfect without prudence. This judge, righteousness, should travel through the kingdom with the king's own power and majesty, and furnished with the wisdom of the councillors, and with his own prudence. And he should set up and cast down, judge and condemn, kill and leave alive, put to the torture, blind and restore sight, raise and suppress, scourge and chastise, extirpate all vices, and order all things according to righteousness.

The common people of the kingdom are all the other powers of the soul, which should be grounded in humility and godly fear, and should be subject to God in all virtues, each power according to its own character.

Whosoever possesses, maintains, and has ordered, the kingdom of his soul in this way, has gone out with love and with virtue towards God, towards himself and towards his neighbour.

And this is the third of the four principal points which we would consider.