"Let no one wear a mask, otherwise he will do ill; and if he has one, let him burn it."

St Philip Neri

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"For what would it profit us to know the whole Bible by heart and the principles of all the philosophers if we live without grace and the love of God?"

Thomas á Kempis

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"God speaks to us without ceasing by his good inspirations."

The Cure D'Ars

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Blessed John of Rusybroeck   (1293-1381)

 

THE ADORNMENT OF THE SPIRITUAL MARRIAGE (cont)

 

by Blessed John of Rusybroeck

 

THE SECOND BOOK

3. Of the Inflow of the Grace of God into our Spirit


From this unity, wherein the spirit is united with God without intermediary, grace and all gifts flow forth: and out of this same unity, where the spirit rests above itself in God, Christ the Eternal Truth says: Behold, The Bridegroom cometh, go ye out to meet Him. Christ, who is the light of Eternal Truth, says: Behold: for through Him we become seeing; for He is the light of the Father, and without Him there were no light, neither in heaven nor on earth. This speaking of Christ within us is nothing else than an inrush of His light and His grace. This grace pours into us in the unity of our higher powers and of our spirit; wherefrom, through the power of the grace received, the higher powers flow out to become active in all virtues, and whereto, because of the bond of love, they ever return again.

In this unity lie the power for, and beginning and end of, every natural and supernatural work of the creature in so far as it is wrought in a creaturely way, through grace and Divine gifts, and by the creature's own strength. And therefore God pours His grace into the unity of the higher powers, that therewith man may always fulfil the virtues, through the power and the richness and the thrust of grace. For God gives us grace, therewith to work; and above all graces He gives Himself, for fruition and for rest. The unity of our spirit is our dwelling-place, in the peace of God and in the riches of charity; and there all the manifold virtues are gathered together, and live in the simplicity of the spirit.

Now the grace of God, pouring forth from God, is an inward thrust and urge of the Holy Ghost, driving forth our spirit from within and exciting it towards all virtues. This grace flows from within, and not from without; for God is more inward to us than we are to ourselves, and His inward thrust or working within us, be it natural or supernatural, is nearer to us and more intimate to us, than our own working is. And therefore God works in us from within outwards; but all creatures work from without inwards. And thus it is that grace, and all the gifts of God, and the Voice of God, come from within, in the unity of our spirit; and not from without, into the imagination, by means of sensible images.

 

4. Showing how we should found our Inward Life on a Freedom from Images


Now Christ says in ghostly wise in the man who is turned within: Behold. Three things, as I have said, make a man seeing in his inward exercise. The first is a shining forth of the grace of God. The grace of God in a soul is like a candle in a lantern or in a glass vessel; for it enlightens, and brightens, and shines through, the vessel, that is, the righteous man. And it manifests itself to the man who has it within him, if he be observant of himself. And it manifests itself through him, to other men, in virtues and in good example. This flash of divine grace inwardly stirs and moves a man with swiftness, and this swift movement is the first thing which makes us see.

Of this swift movement of God there springs from the side of man the second thing, which is a gathering together of all inward and outward powers in the unity of the spirit, in the bonds of love.

The third point is the freedom which allows the man to turn inwards, without hindrance from sensible images, as often as he wills and thinks upon his God. This means that a man must be indifferent to gladness and grief, profit and loss, rising and falling, to strange cares, to delight and to dread, and never be attached to any creature.

These three things make a man seeing in his inward exercise. If you have these three, you have the foundation and the beginning of the inward practice and the inward life.[42]

 

5. Of a Three-fold Coming of our Lord in the Inward Man


Even though the eye be clear and the sight keen, if there were no loveworthy and desirable object, clearness of sight would neither please nor profit a man. And this is why Christ shows to the enlightened eyes of the understanding what they shall see, to wit, the inward coming of Christ their Bridegroom.

Three ways of this special inward coming of God are found in those men who exercise themselves with devotion in the inward life; and each of these three comings raises a man to a higher degree and to a more inward exercise.

The first coming of Christ in inward working drives and urges a man in his inward feeling; it draws him with all his powers upwards to heaven, and it calls him to unite himself with God. This driving and drawing we feel in the heart, and in the unity of all the bodily powers, and especially in the desirous power. For this coming stirs, and works in, the lower part of man; for this must be wholly purged and adorned, and inflamed and drawn inwards. This inward urge of God gives and takes, makes rich and poor, brings weal and woe upon a man; it causes hope and despair; it burns and it freezes. But no tongue can tell of those gifts and works and contraries that here come to pass.
This coming with its working is parted into four degrees, each one higher than the other, as we will show afterwards. And with it the lower part of man is adorned in the inward life.
 

 
   
 
42. The three points here described—the enlightenment or impulse of grace, concentration of mind, and the deliberate expulsion of distracting thoughts and images—are summed up in the exercise which ascetic writers call Recollection, and which prepares consciousness for the contemplative state.